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Libsyn is one of the oldest and most famous
Why a Media Host for a Podcast?
Media hosts specialize in hosting and delivering media–like audio files. They have the right infrastructure to make sure things go smoothly.
When signing up for a media host, you create your podcast by adding the title and description, uploading your cover art, and then uploading your first episode when it is ready.
It’s the one-stop-shop directories like iTunes and Spotify will pull all the data from in order to list your podcast on their platform.
There are two ways to use a media host – either to host your entire podcast
What Does Libsyn Cost?
One of the first things most people want to know is how much it is going to cost for hosting on Libsyn. While there are many free hosts popping up, Libsyn definitely has a cost associated with it.
The best argument for using Libsyn is really that they've been in business since 2004. Like I just mentioned, there are free services available, but when a service charges a fee they have a higher likelihood of staying in business. If they die, your show will die with them.
I've been told by several podcasters that the lack of a free trial has chased them away from Libsyn. You are able to sign up for as little as $5 a month. There are also tiers from $15 to $75, enabling them to cater to any kind of podcaster.
Most people will be able to get away with the $5, $15 or $20 tiers.
The major difference between all the tiers is storage. Libsyn plans are completely tied to how much space you're taking up on their servers.
How Much is Enough Storage?
With Libsyn, the more you pay the more storage you have on a monthly basis. This has zero to do with how many downloads you get (those are unlimited) but is all about the amount of content you can upload in one month. Your allowance renews monthly at the start of the month, so there is never a penalty for a large back catalog of episodes.
- Paying $5 a month gets you 50 MB of storage
- Paying $15 a month gets you 250 MB of storage
- Paying $20 a month gets you 400 MB of storage
The storage allowance and the episodes are definitely related. It depends upon 3 things–the number of episodes published in a month, the length of those episodes and the bitrate you use to encode them.
If you use 96kbps mono you will get a good balance between file size and sound quality for spoken word content. One hour of audio would be close to 41 MB. You could run a 15 to
What Makes Libsyn Stand Out?
Libsyn pride themselves on empowering you to be found anywhere that podcasts are consumed, and have tools that allow you to tweak and tailor this.
With Libsyn’s Destinations you can publish to any day/time in the future to the minute to each directory, independently of each other.
So you could release your episode a day early on one platform – for example, Spotify – before it becomes available everywhere else. You can even create a completely different show title on Spotify too, without altering how it looks in places like Apple Podcasts.
Libsyn was the launch partner for Spotify’s podcasting endeavors and are now working with Pandora in a similar vein. Podcasting on Pandora is still in Beta, and content in there is hand selected, but Libsyn customers can get in touch to put their own show’s forward for consideration.
Some other places you can publish to easily through Libsyn are iHeartRadio (after your show is 2 months old), Youtube (where it converts audio files to video automatically), Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Radio Public.
Your Personal Podcast App
When you are at the $20 tier or higher you get a dedicated iOS/Android app for your show developed by Libsyn.
With app downloads in the hundreds of billions each year, there are worse places for your content to be discovered.
To get the app, you pay a $50 setup fee and then $10 additional per month on top of the normal monthly subscription.
You can use the destination tools to adjust the release day/time of new episodes for your app. You can release early or even exclusive content on there in order to encourage listeners to download it.
No Altering of Files
Libsyn will not alter your files in anyway. If it is a 256kbps stereo file you upload, the listener downloads that exact file on their end.
You do have the option of using Libsyn to embed metadata into your file though. This basically shows details and artwork that’ll be viewable on the mp3 when downloaded directly onto a computer.
Metadata isn’t as important as it once was because most listening takes place in apps where users never actually see the file. But it’s still good practice to add it to your episodes, and this is an easy way to add it into your publishing workflow.
You can get basic download number stats from $7 a month, but if you’re a stats junkie, you’d need to be on at least the $20 tier to access their more advanced offerings
These advanced stats mean you can break your downloads down into countries, regions, and the types of apps and browsers used to listen to your episodes.
Website Integration and Embedded Player
When you create your account with Libsyn you get a default website for your show. The URL will be podcastname.libsyn.com, but you can set it up with your own domain name if you'd like.
If you have your own website already, you can choose to ignore or delete this webpage. On the other hand, you can customize it and make it look really good. For good examples of Libsyn webpages see The Story Behind, The Feed, and Podcast411.
If you’re running your own website on WordPress then you can set it up so you can publish new episodes there from directly inside Libsyn. Another option is to download the Libsyn WordPress plugin which means you can publish episodes from your own site. One gripe I have with this plugin is that there’s no way to position the player inside the episode post – it’ll always just be right at the top. A third way is to publish inside Libsyn, then copy the episode embed code over to an episode post on your site.
Libsyn has a decent looking player which will display your cover
Hosting Multiple Shows
You need a separate account for each individual show, but you can manage these all from inside your account, so you don’t need to constantly log in/log out. It’s just a case of switching tabs from one show to the next.
Libsyn does also offer a service called LibsynPro which caters to podcast networks. LibsynPro is for enterprise customers, celebrities, government agencies, professional media companies and those looking to do lots of video podcasting. Pricing is based on how many different shows (RSS feeds) you manage and how much download bandwidth you get. This service offers unlimited monthly uploads, and does allow you to have multiple shows on one account.
What About Advertising?
Libsyn can hook you up with advertisers if your show is hitting around 5000 US downloads per episode within a month of its release. These are big numbers though, and not a lot of shows will ever reach that level.
They also offer the capability to offer dynamic ad insertion. This feature comes at an extra cost, but enables you to cut out old ‘baked in’ ads and replace them with dynamic ones that can be rotated or replaced over time.
For most podcasters though, the best way to do sponsorship is to approach companies directly.
The Verdict on Libsyn
Libsyn is definitely one of the best hosts available today. They stay very involved with podcasting as a medium. They even have their own podcast called The Feed.
Their website is quite dated and clunky. Most people who see it for the first time comment on this aspect. It doesn't look user-friendly at all.
For advanced stats they charge $20 a month and that seems quite high to me.
I had been using Libsyn and had no complaints about it except for the price. I was paying $120 a month for 5 shows on Yogi's Podcast Network. I switched to Simplecast and paid $60 a month for those same 5 shows.
The major advantage Libsyn has over Simplecast is they publish to all the social media sites for you whereas Simplecast does not have such a feature yet. I overcame this by hiring a $5 an hour virtual assistant to publish my episodes to social media.
At this point I still feel strongly that Simplecast is the best deal on the market right now and would highly recommend them.