(Updated on November 2018) iTunes, first introduced by Apple in 2005 was the first smartphone app to host podcasts. Not only is iTunes the first distribution outlet for podcasters, but it also is the most popular. In the world of podcasting, you can’t say you are a podcaster without submitting your podcast to iTunes. Though new syndication points have recently launched on platforms, like Google and Spotify (and it appears that Pandora will soon join the game as well) Apple remains the main and most popular podcast distribution outlet. In fact, in 2018 it rebranded to be named Apple Podcasts. With an entirely new iPhone app, it now holds 500k available podcasts and has reached over 50 billion downloads.
Can anyone get a podcast on Apple Podcasts?
Yes! Anyone can create a podcast and publish it on Apple Podcasts. In fact, posting a podcast on Apple Podcasts is completely free, so the process is relatively simple. There are just a few steps to be done in order to put your podcast on Apple Podcasts.
One factor to take into consideration is that Apple Podcasts’s system doesn’t host your file, so you can’t upload podcasts directly. You do however, need to submit it by providing Apple with an RSS Feed of your podcast. An RSS feed is important because it contains all of your podcast’s information, including title, image, description, mp3 file URL and category. RSS feeds are necessary to distribute or syndicate your podcast— it’s essentially the URL for your show.
If you’re not an expert on hosting and creating RSS Feeds, don’t worry! The simplest thing to do is to submit your podcast to a hosting platform, like Spreaker, Podbean or Libsyn. These podcast hosting platforms automatically create the RSS Feeds for you and make the submission process much easier.
What are the requirements for a podcast to be approved by Apple Podcasts?
Once your podcast’s episodes are hosted and you have the RSS Feed, there are just three final tasks to complete before you can submit the podcast to Apple Podcasts
- Your podcast artwork must be formatted as a square JPG or PNG image, and at least 1400 x 1400 to 3000 x 3000 in size in RGB color space. We recommend a 1400 x 1400 JPG image. Remember to design your podcast graphic for scalability. That way, even if your cover art is scaled down or blown up, any text is still legible. Start by creating your artwork with the smallest size first, like 125 x 125 or 55 x 55. If it still looks good and you can clearly make out what’s there, it’s perfect!
- Your podcast should not break any copyright or trademark protection rules. Any artwork you utilize to market your podcast will have to be either your original work or be licensed for use from the creator/copyright owner. If you’re not artistically inclined, you can browse sites like Creative Market, where you can license a ready-made graphic, or Dribbble, where you can source and artist to make a custom graphic for you. As with any work-for-hire, you will want to be sure that your agreement with the designer or artist gives you full rights to register the copyright for the art.
- Your RSS Feed must be publicly accessible. Password protected feeds are not accepted by iTunes.
Here are some additional steps we also recommend, so that your podcast is successful as possible on iTunes:
- Choose a unique title for your podcast to avoid your show from being confused with others. The best podcast names engage your audience, educate them on the purpose of your podcast, and encourage them to keep listening. One of our favorite podcasts, The Morning Toast, follows these principles in their own title. As a daily morning news show, the title implies that listeners can tune in in the morning and can also expect a new episode everyday.
- Choose catchy artwork for your podcast— it’s the first thing people will look at. As the old saying goes, first impressions only happen once. Your podcast artwork is the first thing your audience will see, so be sure that it’s enticing and unique. Read our suggestions here for making great podcast cover art.
This is how Podcasts are listed on the iTunes app.
Test the RSS Feed and submit your podcast to Apple
Now that your podcast is hosted and set up properly, you can check out your RSS Feed to ensure that all the metadata is showing up correctly. To do so, you can use a Podcast RSS Feed Validator. Validating a podcast feed ensures that any other site or app is able to read your feed. For example, your podcast feed may work well in Apple Podcasts, but may not be readable to other sites. Running your RSS feed through a Podcast RSS Feed Validator, like this one, helps to resolve any problems in your feed’s readability.
Apple has a specific format that must be followed to submit a podcast. First, head over to Podcasts Connect, Apple’s portal dedicated for podcast creators. It’s important to note that you must have an Apple ID to log into the portal. If you’re a Mac or iOS user, it’s likely that you already have one. If not, you can create one here. Once you’re logged into the portal, you will find your Podcasts Connect dashboard. You can utilize the plus sign in the upper left hand corner to add a new show to our directory.
Then, you will be prompted to enter and validate your RSS feed address. If your RSS feed is validated, you will then be able to submit your podcast for review.
After your podcast is submitted for review, you will be locked out and unable to make any changes. The review process isn’t long, it typically takes 24-48 hours at most. When your podcast is approved, you’ll receive an email from Apple saying so.
Getting iTunes errors while validating
When submitting your podcast for review by Apple Podcasts, there are a few submission errors that could occur, causing your podcast to fail validation. An RSS feed validator should help to prevent that, but here are a few common validation errors:
- Bad RSS feed URL: This error is displayed if your podcast is hosted on a platform that isn’t HTTP compliant. You need to contact your web hosting provider for assistance.
- Inaccessible feed: Check your feed carefully. Make sure you have spelled everything correctly. Podcast connect doesn’t allow spaces in a URL. Make sure to replace them with underscores. If you are using WordPress, you may have to reset permalinks.
- Bad artwork: When you upload a podcast to Apple Podcasts, artwork matters a great deal. Check if your artwork meets the requirements for submission to Apple Podcasts.
- Timeouts: Podcast connect will display this error message if your feed takes a long time to load. You will need to reduce the size of your RSS feed. 1 MB feed size is okay. But, try to keep it under 512 KB for better results.
If you have any additional questions about publishing a podcast to iTunes, visit Apple Podcasts’s frequently asked questions page.