What is an RSS feed?

RSS (RDF/Rich Site Summary, or "Really Simple Syndication") is a file in the XML format. If you open an RSS feed in a text editor, you may notice it looks similar to the source code for an HTML page.

A feed contains a <channel> tag, which details important information about the content of the feed, and a number of <item>  tags, which in the case of a podcast, represent each episode.

How do they work?

Blogs have historically used RSS feeds so that people can subscribe to a website in an app like Feedly (or the now defunct Google Reader), allowing them to read new blog posts without having to constantly check the website for updates.

RSS feeds are used in podcasts to allow directories to show the episodes of a podcast, and more importantly to allow podcast apps (like Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts or Overcast) to automatically make new episodes of a podcast available to users. Some automatically download new episodes, whereas others notify the user that a new episode is available to play.

Why do you need an RSS feed?

Put simply, if you don't have an RSS feed, you don't have a podcast. YouTube channels, MixCloud pages, or even SoundCloud pages on their free plan are not podcasts. A podcast specifically refers to syndicated media, which means audio and video content hosted on the web, with an RSS feed that listeners, apps and directories can subscribe to. So if you want a podcast, you need an RSS feed.

What to do with your feed

Podiant provides RSS feeds for you, and listeners can subscribe directly to your feed if they know how to. This is usually done by copying and pasting the feed URL into a podcast app (or podcatcher). The app then automatically checks the feed several times a day, and notifies the user of new episodes.

Listeners will see an RSS button on the homepage of your podcast's website (hosted by Podiant). You can also find the RSS feed in the right-hand column of your Podiant dashboard.

To make subscribing to your show easier, and to increase its potential audience, you should submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts (formerly the iTunes podcast directory). Apple maintains a comprehensive directory of podcasts that listeners can search, and they can subscribe to shows via iTunes on the desktop, or the Podcasts app on iOS.

To submit your podcast to Apple:

  1. Login to your Podiant dashboard, or go to https://podiant.co/podcasts/ and select the name of your show
  2. Click "Podcast" in the left-hand menu and select "Subscription links"
  3. Follow the link underneath the "Apple Podcasts" heading and accompanying text box.

Once you've submitted your podcast, Apple will review it and email you the address of your show within their directory. Typically, Loda the Podiant robot will pick this up for you, but if you don't get a message from Loda after a couple of days, you can take the URL Apple email you, and paste that into the "Apple Podcasts" box. The URL will look something like this:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/show-name/id1234567890

If it doesn't follow that format, it's probably not an Apple Podcasts directory address.

Once you provide your Apple Podcasts address to Podiant, your podcast page ("http://mypodcast.podiant.co/", for example) will show a button for Apple Podcasts, which links listeners through to the podcast directory or the iOS Podcasts app.

Submitting to other directories

Not everyone uses iTunes, iOS or even the Apple Podcasts app on their iOS devices. However, many other apps and directories use the iTunes Store as a basis for their own databases, so after a day or so, your show should start to show up when searched for in apps like Pocket Casts and Overcast.

You can add buttons for these apps - and others like TuneIn and the Google Play Music Store - by following the steps in the above section, and following the link listed under the section named for the app or site you want to submit to.

Like Apple, Google has a manual submission process, so it will take a day or so to hear back from them. Also note that services like Spotify have a rigorous selection process so they may not accept your submission. This is sadly out of our control, as Spotify does not provide an open directory to which anyone can submit.

How your feed is used and updated

Any relevant changes you make to the settings of your podcast, any edits you make to existing episodes and of course the addition of new episodes, will trigger an update to your RSS feed.

Your feed is a static file that is cached and served via a CDN (content delivery network) to make it fast. But it may take up to 15 minutes for changes you make to your content to show up on your feed.

Further delays are added by apps and directories, and are out of our control. Apple Podcasts, for example, checks feeds regularly but not very frequently, so in some circumstances it can take up to a day before an episode appears on the Apple Podcasts website. However, people who are already subscribed to your show via their iOS app should receive your episode within an hour or so.

Apps like Overcast work slightly differently. Overcast's servers check for new episodes (instead of each app doing it simultaneously). Overcast's servers then tell its app that a new episode of a podcast is available. Again, this can sometimes take longer than 15 minutes.

Problems with your feed?

If you've waited for an hour or so, and you haven't seen a change to your feed, you can check it via the Podbase Validator. If the feed appears valid but you're still not seeing a change, contact us via the button at the bottom-right of your dashboard, and we'll see if your feed needs a manual refresh.

Leaving Podiant and transferring to another provider

If you want to leave Podiant and use another provider, you'll need to delete your podcast from Podiant (this won't delete everything straight away). When you do so, you'll be asked if you want to provide a redirect URL. Your new podcast provider will give you your RSS feed URL (this is not the same as a website address, and it won't start with http://feeds.podiant.co/ ). Paste that URL into the box when prompted, and we will instruct podcast apps to use your new feed.

How this works

What we will do is add an <itunes:new-feed-url>  tag to your current (Podiant) RSS feed. This will instruct podcast apps to subscribe to your new feed URL, instead of picking up episodes from your Podiant feed.

Your Podiant site and feed will remain for 30 days. This will give podcast apps plenty of time to pick up the new feed URL. After this time, we will remove all of the files we host for that podcast, and will allow someone else to use the subdomain you originally signed up with, should they wish to. As part of your transfer process, the host you move to should be able to help you move your audio and metadata across.

301 redirects

Sadly, at the moment we are unable to provide a 301 redirect. This is purely a technical limitation, and not because we don't want to help you move on. However, the <itunes:new-feed-url>  tag should work fine, and is respected as a standard way of instructing podcast apps to follow a new URL.

It happens because our CDN does not currently allow us to create redirect rules (automatically forwarding one URL to another). As soon as we are able to provide this service, we will.

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