Wow, but are the podcast-aware Twitter people, Facebook groups, Discord channels, Slack workspaces and seemingly everywhere else going wild. The speculation about what Apple might say leading up to the event was rampant. And after yesterday's 2.5-hour long keynote event, a lot of that speculation was confirmed.
Today, I want to give you, the working podcaster, some specific advice as to what you should change about your podcast. So skip the speculation and guessing. Because I have the answers you are looking for. If you missed the keynote speech for Apple’s WWDC19, I’m about to give you the highlights from that speech with very exact steps you need to take to ready your podcast for this brave new world.
Are you ready? You might want to take notes because it’s a little complicated.
The first thing you need to change about your podcast is…
Well, yeah. That... That's what I have written down here. Nothing.
Not that there weren't big announcements made at the event. Clearly, there were big announcements, and many of those announcements made at WWDC19 will certainly impact podcasting.
But probably* don't need to change anything for your show. No, you really don't.
This is not the first time you've heard that Apple was making changes, right? We, the podcast pundits, have been talking about this basic fact for some 20 months or longer. Yesterday was just (looked at through a very narrow lens) just validation of our speculation.
But there were some very cool things announced at WWDC19. Three, I think, are most germane to podcasters.
The break up of iTunes
The release of the new operating system for Mac computers, mobile devices, and more signals the end of iTunes. In its place will be three new (?) apps, one for each type of content. Music will be in Apple Music. TV & video content will be in Apple TV. And podcasts will be in Apple Podcasts. Yes, just like on your iPhone. But with Catalina, that will be mirrored on Mac computers as well.
This is causing lots of podcasters to freak out. But as I covered on yesterday’s program, links to the old iTunes ecosystem will all translate into Apple’s new Apple Podcasts system. At least for a while. It's only a matter of time before those redirects are phased out, so just get it done now and not be surprised later, OK?
While you're in there, do the links from your website really still say iTunes? Really? Seriously? In June 2019? It’s been almost two years since Apple started telling all of us to stop calling it iTunes. If you were a holdout because “hey, some people still use iTunes”, that excuse is going away, along with the words “iTunes”. So change it. Now.
Apple leapfrogs their podcast search problem
Search sucks on Apple Podcasts. And has always sucked. At the keynote, they announced the new Apple Podcasts experience will use AI and machine learning to take a completely different approach to solving their own search problem.
Rather than doing basic (oh, so basic) word-matching in a limited number (read: two) fields, artificial brains inside Apple Podcats will be churning through the actual audio files of podcast episodes, using machine learning and AI-powered robots in some virtual back room, effectively documenting every word you say on your show (that’s your cue to freak out, privacy-wonks). No, we humans probably won’t be able to read these transcriptions. But Apple does plan on using these robot-readable transcriptions to make Apple podcast search better.
In theory, the new search results inside Apple Podcasts should return results based on the actual spoken contents of the audio. And you need do nothing about this for what I hope are obvious reasons. Sure, maybe you want to be a little more strategic in the actual words you utter during your episodes. But in all honesty, you should already be making the kinds of content people are looking for, talking about that content in the same way other people talk about it. But don't try and think of ways to “keyword stuff” your audio. Please?
Adding commentary to enhance the Apple Podcasts experience
I may be getting excited over nothing, but I saw a new enhancement for Apple Music that I hope they also add to Apple Podcasts. So note: This is pure speculation on my part. But if Apple Music can display lyrics to songs as you are listening to that song, they can do something similar for Apple Podcasts.
This could mean that read-as-you-listen text -- a complete transcription, highlights, extra info, etc. -- presented right on the screen. Of course, we’ll have to provide that text. No, the machine-interpreted data Apple’s computer brains generate isn’t going to cut it in this form. If Apple does support this, it’ll mean you need to do a better job of crafting the “show notes” that go inside your episodes. Not the “show notes” that act as a landing page on your website for that particular episode, but the text you place inside of the episode itself.
To recap, there’s nothing you, the working podcast, need to do to prep for Apple’s coming changes. Well, probably nothing. Unless you do need to make an adjustment to that whole “iTunes” situation you should have done months ago. So go do that.
If you need help doing that (or other things), get in touch with me, because I would love to help you, your business, your podcast take advantage of all the new things coming down the pipe. That's what I do. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and go to PodcastLaunch.pro to see a list of all the services we offer our clients.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.