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Posts tagged with "podcasts"

Apple Podcasts Marketing Tool for Social Media Released

Apple has released a free web app that lets podcasters create artwork and links to promote their shows on Apple Podcasts. The app offers several customization options that should appeal to a wide variety of creators who want to market their shows on Apple’s service. Still, there are a couple of limitations worth keeping in mind.

Apple's tool offers several options, but the marketing messages are limited to a predefined list.

Apple’s tool offers several options, but the marketing messages are limited to a predefined list.

At its core, Apple’s tool makes it easy to generate promotional artwork in several predefined sizes along with links that can be posted to social media to promote a show, an episode, or an Apple Podcasts channel. Six size choices cover the standard artwork specifications for most social networking services. By default, the artwork is generated with a purple gradient that matches the Podcasts’ app color scheme, but you can change it to whatever you like.

Shows that offer Apple Podcasts subscriptions can promote bonus content and other perks to users.

Shows that offer Apple Podcasts subscriptions can promote bonus content and other perks to users.

There are several messaging options tailored to whether a show is free or offers a subscription version.

There are several messaging options tailored to whether a show is free or offers a subscription version.

The tool also provides several predefined messages that are applied to the artwork, the number of which depends on whether a show is free, paid, or free with a paid option. Shows that rank among Apple Podcasts’ Top Shows have the option of promoting their rankings too. However, there is no option to craft your own marketing message for the artwork, which is a little disappointing but not surprising.

Promotional art comes in multiple sizes for different social networks, and URLs can include affiliate parameters.

Promotional art comes in multiple sizes for different social networks, and URLs can include affiliate parameters.

The app generates full and shortened URLs, too, with the option to include affiliate parameters if you participate in Apple’s affiliate linking program for services.

Apple’s new marketing tool for social channels works well and generates good-looking artwork with minimal effort, making it a nice option for anyone with limited time and resources. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the tool is limited to Apple Podcasts. The messaging options are limited too. You’ll need a different solution if you’d rather promote your podcast’s own website, another podcast directory, or use a marketing message not offered by Apple. Still, because such a large percentage of many shows’ audiences listen using Apple Podcasts, the company’s new tool is an excellent way to reach those listeners and potentially grow that segment of your audience.


Automating Podcast Sessions in Audio Hijack 4 with Shortcuts and Timery

Audio Hijack 4 and Timery.

Audio Hijack 4 and Timery.

For the past week, I’ve been rethinking my approach to time tracking with the Timery app with a focus on simplicity and automation. I appreciate the insights into my habits and patterns afforded by time tracking and Timery’s excellent Reports view, but lately I’ve felt like my setup with projects, tags, and sub-tasks was too convoluted since it was based on a structure I designed years ago.

My daily routine is different now – and it’ll continue to change in 2022 – and I wanted to get rid of the overhead caused by a time tracking system that was too granular. For time tracking to be effective, you need to remember to start a timer whenever you’re working on something; too much friction in the process – such as having to carefully pick from a list of similar projects – defeats the whole purpose of it. There’s also the opposite problem – forgetting to stop a long-running timer – which John explained and fixed in a separate story for Automation April.

So I went back to the drawing board of my Timery projects and reorganized everything with simplicity and ease of activation in mind. I cleaned up my saved timers and shortcut that activates those timers, which I can now trigger system-wide via Raycast on the Mac and the Shortcuts widgets on iPad. I split my work projects into three main areas – MacStories, Club, and podcasts – removed redundant sub-tasks, and grouped related activities under the same tags for more reliable filtering.

How I access my saved timers from the Home Screen.

How I access my saved timers from the Home Screen.

The approach worked well for MacStories and the Club, but podcast timers turned out to be a different beast. You see, when I sit down to record a show like Connected or AppStories, I need to take care of key tasks such as making sure my audio inputs are correct, checking out notes for the show’s outline and intro, and keeping an eye on the Connected audience in Relay’s Discord server. These tasks distract me from time tracking and, as a result, I often forget to start a timer for when I begin recording and, conversely, stop the timer when I’m done. I could automatically start a timer when a calendar event for a show is due in my calendar, but that also doesn’t work for me since it doesn’t account for the time before we actually record the show when I may be chatting privately with Myke and Stephen. Wouldn’t it be great if there was One True Way to automatically start tracking my real recording time when I start talking into the microphone for a show?

As it turns out, thanks to the latest update to Audio Hijack – the new version 4.0 that recently launched on macOS – there is. So for this week’s Automation April story, I’m sharing the custom system I created to trigger a single shortcut that starts time tracking in Timery based on the show I’m recording in that specific moment. Let’s take a look.

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Apple Podcasts Follower Metrics Are Now Available

Last month, I wrote about Apple’s plans to expand the analytics available to podcasters who offer free shows. Yesterday, the new metrics for free shows went live on Apple Podcasts Connect with an announcement from Apple.

The metrics report on a show’s Followers, the term Apple uses to describe anyone who follows free podcasts by selecting the plus button in the Apple Podcasts app. “Subscribers” is reserved for anyone who signs up to receive episodes of paid shows

The new analytics are explained in detail in a support document on Apple Podcasts for Creators. If you’re a podcaster, you’ll find the new metrics under the Analytics tab on Apple Podcasts Connect. The company says that the new Follower metrics allow podcasters to:

Get a breakdown of followers per show and easily measure followers across shows. Once a show is selected, you can view the number of net new followers over the last week, month, 60 days, and all time. Navigate to the Trends menu to view a graph of followers over time and the number of net new followers on a specific day or during a specified range.

The new statistics also report the listening habits of Followers and anyone who doesn’t follow your show.

It’s good to see Apple’s podcast analytics offerings expanding. Apple is just one source of listeners, but it’s a big one that, for many shows, is the dominant source of listeners, so having more anonymized data on user behavior should help guide podcasters in their promotional efforts.


Overcast Redesign Enhances Podcast Navigation with an Emphasis on Playlists and Recent Episodes

I’ve used a lot of different podcast apps over the years, but the one I return to most often and have used the most is Overcast by Marco Arment. The app’s customizability, Smart Speed and Voice Boost audio enhancement technologies, and Shortcuts support are unrivaled among podcast players. I also appreciate that when episodes of the shows I love are published, they usually appear in Overcast first.

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Apple Expands Analytics and Other Features Available to Podcasters

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, in a post on the Apple Podcasts for Creators webpage, Apple announced an expansion of the podcast analytics it offers, which podcasters can sign up to use at Apple Podcasts Connect.

Apple is adding a new metric called Followers, the term Apple uses to describe listeners who subscribe to a free podcast. The company already provides analytics that track listener numbers, engagement, and plays. Still, Followers could give podcasters who are considering offering a paid subscription version of their podcast an idea of its potential audience. The new statistic will be available next month from the Analytics tab of Podcasts Connect and can be viewed over 60 days, a week, a month, or all time.

Apple will also provide a chart showing the total time a show has been listened to for a chosen period and what percentage of those listeners are followers of the show. A graph of a show’s followers over time and the gains or declines in followers will be available in the Trends tab too.

Until now, subscription-based podcasts had to be uploaded as WAV or FLAC files and processed on Apple’s end before being available for subscribers. Podcasters can now upload MP3 versions of their shows instead, which is a welcome change. We offer a subscription version of AppStories on Apple Podcasts. Although producing a WAV version of each episode isn’t a burden, uploading such a large file and waiting for it to process on Apple’s servers has been one of the few points of friction in the process, so I’m glad that has been eliminated.

If you offer subscriber podcasts through Apple Podcasts, Apple has also added new customization options for the subscription banners in the Apple Podcasts app. Finally, for podcasters who want help getting a podcast and subscription set up, the Apple Podcasts team is available to provide direct assistance.

It’s nice to see Apple continue to evolve its subscription offerings. I don’t pay much attention to metrics, but I know for some podcasters, they are crucial for attracting advertising. Still, over longer periods, analytics like those Apple will offer next month should make it easier to spot audience and listening trends, even if it is only from the Apple Podcasts slice of a show’s audience.


MacStories Unwind: It’s All About the Picks

It’s hard to believe that we’re already closing in on the 100th episode of MacStories Unwind, part of an experiment that we launched in the spring of 2020, just as lockdowns were taking hold around the globe. Unwind grew organically from the music, movie, TV show, videogame, and other media recommendations Federico and I share with each other all the time. However, like many things we do, Unwind was also an experiment – two experiments, really.

First, Unwind was designed to test ways to better integrate MacStories, Club MacStories, and our podcasts by providing listeners with a recap of the week across everything we do. Second, the show served as a proof of concept for the Club MacStories+ A.V. Club, a sort of book club for all sorts of media that has become a pillar of our Club MacStories+ Discord community.

Unwind is nearly two years old now, and what we’ve learned is that our Unwind picks – the weekly segment where we recommend a wide range of media – has become the highlight of the show for many listeners. Unwind picks are our favorite part of the show too, allowing us to share our many interests outside of the tech world. So late last year, we began experimenting with a series on our favorite TV shows and movies, videogames, and music of 2021. We’ve taken the approach further this year, giving our Unwind picks room to breathe and eliminating the weekly recap from the show.

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Apple Podcasts Names Its Best Show and Newcomer of 2021

On the heels of the Apple Music Awards, Apple has announced its picks for the Best Show of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, along with the Top New Show, Top Free Channel, Top Show with Subscription, and Top Channel with Subscription. 2021 saw Apple move into subscription-based podcasts and channels that allow podcast producers to create collections of shows, both of which are reflected in the top charts announced today. According to the company’s press release:

“2021 marked the start of a new chapter for podcasting with shows that moved us in ways unlike ever before,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “We are honored to recognize the phenomenal creators who are redefining podcasting with this year’s best shows, and to help more listeners around the world discover, enjoy, and support their inspiring work.”

Maya Shankar, host of A Slight Change of Plans.

Maya Shankar, host of A Slight Change of Plans.

The 2021 Apple Podcasts Awards winners are:

Apple’s Podcasts editorial team has also created a curated collection of Top Shows and Top Episodes of 2021 and reported the year-end Top Charts of the most popular free and subscription-based shows and channels. Those lists, along with the award winners, can be found in a special Best of 2021 section of the Apple Podcasts app.

Podcasts continue to be one of the hottest media categories, experiencing rapid growth and experimentation with new business models, including subscriptions like Apple Podcasts program. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions got off to a rocky start earlier this year, but it also isn’t nearly as difficult to use as some people suggest in my experience. I expect that over time, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will continue to grow as podcasters explore new ways to build sustainable shows.


Apple Releases Hooked, an Apple Original Podcast with No Ties to Other Properties

Benjamin Mayo writing for 9to5Mac reports that Apple has published its first podcast that isn’t tied to a TV+ property or Apple News. The show, called Hooked, is a true-crime story featuring career bank robber Tony Hathaway. As Mayo notes, the show is listed as an ‘Apple Original podcast.’

Perhaps more notable is that there doesn’t seem to be a standard RSS feed associated with the show. Instead, the show’s first four episodes and trailer are available only via the Apple Podcasts app. Of course, a feed could be added, but if one isn’t, this would mark Apple’s first foray into exclusive audio content, something which Spotify has been doing for quite some time.

During an investor call last week that Podnews reported on, Spotify declared itself the number one podcast provider in the US and over 60 other countries based on an Edison Research report. As a result, it would come as no surprise if Apple has begun competing head-to-head with Spotify with its own exclusive audio content in the highly-popular true-crime category. At the same time, though, one of podcasting’s strengths has always been its open nature, and it would be a shame to see that further eroded by Apple, which has been a steward of the format for so long.

Update: Although not indexed and available in all podcast apps yet, Hooked does have a traditional RSS feed, which can be found here.

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Relay FM’s Third Annual Fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Is Underway

Recently, Relay FM, which was founded by our close friends Stephen Hackett and Myke Hurley, kicked off their annual fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help combat childhood cancer. This year’s third annual fundraiser has already raised over $70,000 with a goal of $333,333.33, and we’d love it if MacStories readers would join us in supporting this cause.

You can make a donation by visiting here.

If you’re a MacStories reader, there’s a good chance you have listened to one of the shows Federico co-hosts on the network or have another favorite, in which case you may have already contributed. However, if not, please do consider donating.

St. Jude plays an important role in the fight against childhood cancer, treating kids and doing research with other medical facilities around the world. Your donations help ensure that families aren’t charged for treatment, travel, housing, or meals, so their sole focus is helping their child get better.

Relay FM will be raising money for St. Jude through the end of September with the highlight of the drive being Podcastathon, an eight-hour extravaganza featuring special guests from your favorite Relay FM shows. Mark your calendar for Friday September 17, 2021 from Noon to 8 pm Eastern US time to watch Podcastathon, which will be streamed at twitch.tv/relay.fm.

Thanks in advance for checking out Relay FM’s fundraiser for St. Jude and to all who donate.