HOW TO MAKE A PODCAST
is intended as a fairly simple guide to making and posting a podcast.
For more detail, please see Apple's Podcast Technical Specifications Page.
you need to record your first podcast episode in an audio editor, and
save it as an .mp3, .m4a,
.m4v, .mov or .mp4 file (not
Windows Media, RealMedia or Flash).
The last three are video formats; .mp3 is audio only (you can embed
one image); .m4a is audio only but can accept chapter markers with
individual images. The facility for doing this has been removed from GarageBand as from version 10.0.0 (and Podcast Maker is no longer available); for Macs Fission and Feeder can do this (I've not tried them.)
The link you will put in the feed must be directly
to the media file, not to an embedded player of the sort provided by
various file-sharing services (including YouTube videos which won't
work). Don't include any spaces or
in the name - stick to plain letters and numbers, and - or _. Upload
this to your webspace and
note the URL by which it can be accessed. (The company who provides
your internet connection may offer webspace, or there are plenty of
other companies who do.) Your URL should begin with http: - https://
(secure connection) is not advisable. (Omitting the http or using https
will cause some podcast creation programs to fail to create the
necessary 'enclosure' tag.)
Some people intermix episodes with and without playable media to match
the way their weblog is constructed; this can cause problems. In any
case iTunes does not display episodes with no media. You should also
note that if when you submit your feed the top episode is one without
playable media the Store will reject the submission as it checks only
the top episode and won't notice the others which have media.
To complicate matters, Apple now require the server you host your
media files on to have 'byte-range support' enabled - basically this
means coping with requests for only part of a file at a time, which is
required for the iPhone to be able to play podcasts - and refusing to
accept podcasts where this is not the case. You should confirm with any
proposed hosting service that they support this: if they don't (or
don't know what it is) you should find another hosting service.
Now you need to write
the 'feed' file which tells iTunes and other services about your
podcast. There are programs which can do all this for you and
make the process a lot simpler: one such, for Macs, is Podcast
Maker (though it's been reported that it doesn't work reliably with
OSX 'Lion' and above) - Feeder offers similar facilities; iWeb (now discontinued)
and RapidWeaver can also do this; I don't know about
Windows but there must be
similar programs. There are also online services such as Blogger, Podbean or LibSyn which will handle
a lot of the work for you but will also leave you with less control.
A SAMPLE FEED
Personally I wouldn't mess about writing my own XML
file, but if you are
going to write the file yourself: copy the sample XML file
below and paste it into a plain text
text editor. Amend the sections in red (of
course they'll probably be black in the text editor) with suitable
information. Note that there must be no line breaks between the
< and > tags (the browser display may have put some in).
<title>THE NAME OF
<link>THE URL OF
THE WEB PAGE ABOUT YOUR PODCAST</link>
<copyright>℗ & © YEAR, AND YOUR NAME (OPTIONAL)</copyright>
PARAGRAPH DESCRIBING THE SUBJECT OF YOUR PODCAST</itunes:summary>
BRIEF SENTENCE ABOUT YOUR PODCAST</description>
EMAIL ADDRESS FOR VISITORS (OPTIONAL)</itunes:email>
OF AN IMAGE FOR THE PODCAST" />
A CATEGORY FROM THE APPLE LIST (SEE BELOW)">
A CATEGORY SUBTITLE"/>
SUBTITLE FOR THE EPISODE</itunes:subtitle>
DESCRIPTION OF THE CONTENTS OF YOUR EPISODE</itunes:summary>
<enclosure url="THE FULL
URL OF THE MEDIA FILE FOR THE EPISODE" length="FILE SIZE IN BYTES" type="FOR
AN MP3 FILE - audio/mpeg" />
<guid>THE FULL URL
OF THE MEDIA FILE FOR THE EPISODE</guid>
E.G. Wed, 15 Jun 2005 19:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
KEYWORDS FOR SEARCHING</itunes:keywords>
IF CONTAINS ADULT MATERIAL, OTHERWISE no</itunes:explicit>
These are the 'type' attributes inside the 'enclosure' tags for the different file types -
For an explanation of how the various tags appear in iTunes please
see this page.
Apple provide a list of suitable categories here
and it's best to stick to them. The URL for the media file given in the
'enclosure' tag must be a direct link to the file, not using a
script to force a download, and scripts redirecting to the actual file
may not work - this includes URL shorteners such as tinyurl. Also, your
episodes cannot be password-protected (and you
cannot charge for your podcast).
A caveat: if you are
hand-writing the feed you cannot use the '&' character directly,
e.g. 'Apples & Pears'; you must use the html code for it: 'Apples
& Pears'. A loose '&' in your feed will cause it to be
unreadable (since its presence indicates the start of a code which you
are not supplying or concluding).
The 'Podcast image' which appears
on the iTunes Store page (see the illustration below) is referenced in
the 'itunes:image' tag; it needs to be .jpg or .png, 1400 x 1400 px,
and less than 500 kB. Some people have found that it can take
days to show after the podcast first appears, or if you change it it
can also take several days before the change comes into effect. (If you
decide to change it you must also change the filename.) Note
that when people subscribe to a podcast they do not see this image: the
explanation for that is here
the feed as a plain text
with the name rss.xml or podcast.xml - or any
name but the extension must be .xml (and not .txt). You would be
advised to make everything in the URL lower-case as apparently the
iTunes Store has taken on occasion to failing to recognize URLs with
capital letters in. Upload the feed to your
When you come to add further episodes, duplicate the
<item>...<item> section and place it above
the present <item> section (so you get latest items on
unless you want them on the bottom of the list). Enter the data for the
new episode (note that the 'guid' tag must be different from other
episodes, usually put the URL in again), save and upload.
To test your feed: open iTunes: from the 'Advanced' menu choose
'Subscribe to Podcast'. Enter the URL of the feed file (not
the audio file) and hit return. If the feed works your podcast and
episode(s) will appear in iTunes and you can check if it plays. If so
you are ready to submit it. (You can delete it from iTunes at this
If it doesn't work, go to http://www.feedvalidator.org/
enter the feed URL - this will show any errors. (It may throw up a few
There is more detailed information on diagnosing a podcast feed on this page
Although this is a technical
help page, it may be worth adding a warning about copyright. Many
podcasts consist of 'mixes' of commercially issued recordings taken
from CDs or downloads. Using such material without proper clearance
(which you are unlikely to get) is a breach of copyright - the fact
that you are not charging for your podcast is irrelevant, and buying a
CD gets you the right to listen to it privately, not to broadcast it.
the Store staff spot that you are doing this they will remove your
podcast; and though many people do it and get away with it because
no-one notices, at least one podcast creator has received a demand for
$25,000 plus legal costs and claims for loss; I doubt he has any
defence against this. So it's something you may want to at least bear
in mind when planning your podcast.
There is a range of 'podcast safe' music available which allows you to
use it in a podcast: Google 'podcast safe music' for a number of sites
FEED TO THE iTUNES STORE
If all is well, you can submit your podcast. You will need to be logged
in to the iTunes Store. Enter this URL in your browser: https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/publishPodcast
(There have been cases of people getting error messages doing this: if
so, try https://buy.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/publishPodcast
will open iTunes to a pane where you can submit the podcast:
again, enter the feed URL, not
the URL of the media file. iTunes does not store your media, it just
uses the contents of the feed file to provide the details and access on
the iTunes Store. (None of this will cost you anything).
take some days before the podcast is accepted, since each new podcast
has to be checked. You may be rejected for unauthorized use of
material, bad language and sexual content, libel, or racist comments -
but of course you would never do any of those things, so you should be
When your podcast is accepted, iTunes will give you a URL
which will open iTunes to your podcast. You will also eventually be
able to search on its title, though this can take some time to become
available. However searching just on the category in the iTunes Store
is most unlikely to throw up your podcast. There are thousands of
podcasts out there, and it would be quite impossible to display on one
page the entire list for any category. What you see are 'featured'
podcasts, chosen by Apple as being special; please see this Tech Note
: note that there is no way you can
influence the selection other than making your podcast really special
(bribery won't work).
When you want to add an episode, upload it and amend
and reupload the feed file as described above (new episodes above the
old ones). It usually takes at least 48 hours for the new episode to
appear, though subscribers see the changes immediately (since they are
accessing the feed directly, not through the Store). Regrettably the
iTunes Store provides no way of monitoring the
number of people who visit your podcast.
As there have been some recent, and rather confusing, changes in the
way iTunes handles the display of podcasts it may be worth noting them.
By default only the most recent episode shows when you first subscribe.
To show all episodes click 'Feed' at the bottom of List view or the
'Feed' button at top right in My Podcasts view.
In both views you can delete both downloaded or un-downloaded episodes
from both views by control- or right-clicking on the name of the
Each episode can be double-clicked to be played as a stream without downloading
it first (so you don't have to wait for it to download fully). Click
the cloud icon at right to download it (as you will have to to sync it
to an iPod). Note that if you click the cloud icon to the right of the
title of the podcast itself, rather than an episode, you will initiate
a download of all episodes.
CHANGING YOUR FEED
In order to move iTunes to a new feed you have to have access to
the old feed to be able to add a tag to it. You need to add the
following tag to the top section of the feed, between the 'channel' tag
and the first 'item' tag.
<itunes:new-feed-url>NEW URL FOR YOUR
iTunes will normally pick this up quite quickly but you should leave it
there for subscribers for at least 2 weeks - when they next check their
iTunes application will transfer its attention to the new feed, and
indeed this is the only way of retaining your subscribers. Be very
careful when typing
in the new URL because if you make an error and redirect iTunes to a
non-existent URL you will not be able to retrieve the situation and
your podcast will cease to function. You should note that this
redirection is permanent once effected: removing the tag from the old
feed has no effect.
Since it's necessary to have access to the old feed in order to be able
to move the iTunes Store to a new feed, problems arise if you don't
have access to the old feed - either because it's on a server which has
become defunct or you can't access for any reason: or because you are
using one of the online service which write the feed for you and
doesn't allow you to modify it directly.
In this case you are rather
stuck. A couple of people have reported success in getting the Store
staff to move their podcast to a new feed by emailing them at email@example.com
don't know how likely success in this is. Failing this, you will need
to abandon the old feed
altogether. You should attempt to get the old podcast removed from the
(though there have been a number of reports
that iTunes Store staff are simply not bothering to carry out this
- and submit your new feed as an entirely new podcast. You will
probably need to make a small change in the title, as a bug in the
Store software may tell you that the podcast has already been
submitted: and of course you will lose any subscribers or comments.
To check what iTunes is up to, click 'Subscribe Free' in the Store page
for your podcast. Go to the Podcasts section in the sidebar: you should
see your podcast listed in the main pane. Control-click (Mac) or
right-click (Windows) the line for the entire podcast (not an episode)
and choose 'Copy Podcast URL'. When you paste into a text program you
will see which feed iTunes is working from.
Using a 301 redirect
You need only read this section if you have control of the server and
know how to implement a 301 redirect. If this is not the case you can
ignore the rest of this page.
Let's call the original feed URL 'A' and the new feed URL 'B'.
A 301 redirect on the server causes all requests for A to be redirected
to B, whether they come from iTunes, web browsers or other RSS clients.
Most browsers will remember this redirect even if it is removed from
the server, at least until their cache expires at which point they may
revert to trying to access A.
When you add the 'itunes:new-feed-url' tag to feed A, the iTunes Store,
iTunes application and (I assume) the podcasts app are permanently
redirected to B. Once they have accessed A and seen the tag they will
always access B in future for that podcast. This tag has no effect at
all on browsers or on any other RSS client.
Therefore if your subscribers and visitors are only using iTunes, then
all you need to do is to add that tag to A. You can remove the old feed
after a couple of weeks as by then all subscribers will have had a
chance to check the feed and be redirected. The Store will redirect
when it next checks the feed, usually within a couple of days.
However if anyone is using some other RSS reader the 301 tag is
essential to keep them up to date. If you enable one, then obviously
iTunes will be redirected to B and will not see the redirection tag.
However it's probable that as soon as you remove the tag iTunes will
revert to looking for A.
For this reason, if you are implementing the 301, you should add the
tag to B. This has the result that iTunes looks for A, gets directed to
B, sees the tag, and makes B the URL it always checks in future for
that podcast, whatever happens to the original server. (That would be
important if, for example, you were changing hosts or the original
server went permanently off-line - it's been known to happen.)
As already said, the really important caveat is to make absolutely sure
you have the redirect correct. If you implement the
'itunes:new-feed-url' tag but get the URL wrong, you can't undo it -
anyone seeing the tag will be redirected to a non-functioning URL and
you have no way of getting them back.
© Roger Wilmut. This
site is not associated with Apple.