What is podcast hosting and why do I need it?
In order to submit your podcast to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google, you'll need a valid podcast RSS feed. The RSS feed is a collection of episodes for a single podcast (formatted using a language called XML). Podcast apps (like Spotify and Apple Podcasts) read your RSS feed to get your podcast title, cover art, episode titles, audio file location, and show notes.
To create a podcast RSS feed, you'll need:
A webserver to host MP3 files,
A way to create new episodes, and add show notes,
A way to publish new episodes, and update the podcast's RSS feed,
A way to generate, update, and host, the XML file for your feed.
This is where a podcast hosting company comes in. Their software allows you to create episodes, upload your recorded audio, add show notes, and publish your episode to an RSS feed. Once you have a valid RSS feed, you can submit it to podcast directories and players like iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and Stitcher.
(Just like you need "website hosting" for your website, you need "podcast hosting" for your podcast.)
Here's how it works on Transistor.fm:
What's an RSS feed, and why do I need it to make a podcast?
RSS originally stood for "Rich Site Summary," however, it's now more popularly known as "Really Simple Syndication."
A podcast RSS feed is a collection of episodes for a single podcast, formatted using a language called XML. When a listener views your podcast in their podcast player, the RSS feed is what provides information on your:
Podcast cover art
Episode MP3 location
Episode cover art
Episode show notes
Episode publish date
You submit your podcast's RSS feed URL to Apple Podcasts and Spotify in order to appear in their directory.
Here's an example RSS feed URL for my podcast:
To ensure your podcast's RSS feed is valid, you can use a validator like Podbase.
Why can't I just upload my podcast to Apple Podcasts?
Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts don't host audio files for podcasters.
You'll need to use a podcast hosting company to host your MP3 files and generate your RSS feed. Then, you'll submit your RSS feed to all the different directories and players.
Which podcast hosting company should I choose?
If you want to create a podcast, there are many podcast hosting companies to choose from.
For professional podcasters, we built Transistor. Thousands of creatives, brands, and professionals use our software to upload their audio, write their show notes, and publish new episodes. They also get stats on how many people are listening to each episode, what countries they're from, and what podcast apps they use.
Some podcast hosts also provide an embeddable player you can use on your website. Here's what Transistor's looks like:
The speed of downloading and streaming your podcast is determined by how fast your podcast hosting company is. Daniel J. Lewis wrote a good guide on this here:
"About half of the providers offer extremely-fast hosting for North America, but slow down in other parts of the world. Transistor had consistently fast downloads to every test region (including Sydney and Singapore)."
In his guide, Daniel also discourages people from using Soundcloud for their RSS feed, citing that they "were consistently the slowest."