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School of Podcasting


May 26, 2014

Today we tackle the hype around soundcloud.com as a podcasting solution and compare it to some of the other top podcast media solutions that have been around. I apply my criteria, and see who makes it, and share my opinion on why some of them still make me nervous. 

Note: For the record you can get a free month at blubrry.com or Libsyn.com using the coupon code sopfree you will see that even though using those codes benefits me financially, those companies don't always finish on top. 

The Opening Players

Amazon S3
Buzzsprout.com
Podomatic.com
Libsyn.com
Blubrry.com
Podbean.com
Spreaker.com
Soundcloud.com

My Criteria

1. Don't mess with my file. What I upload is what I want people to download.
2. Give me the ability to have an unlimited back catalog (unlimited storage)
3. Don't limit my audience size (unlimited bandwidth)
4. Don't control my feed, and make it easy to leave if I choose to do so. I need to be able to put in an iTunes redirect script.
5. Give me support.
6. Charge me for your service so you can stay in business
7. Give me stats so I can see what's working. It would be nice if they were accurate.

This kills the following:

Amazon S3. No stats, and your start cheap, but get really expensive if I get popular. (my last bill was over $40).
Podmatic - Limited bandwidth, limited storage, and no way to leave (you hijack my feed)
Buzzsprout.com - You change my file, and I have to ask to leave.
Spreaker.com - You mess with my ID3 tags, and there is no way to leave.

That leaves:
Soundcloud.com
Libsyn.com
Blubrry.com
Podbean.com

Pricing

I tried to get the hosts to line up in a fashion that we could compare apples to apples. It's not easy. For the most part I chose the price point closest to $20.  Here is what I found.

Soundcloud is the cheapest coming in at .0021 per meg (that's almost free)
Podbean comes in at .03 per meg of storage  (300 megs per month)
Libsyn.com comes in at .05 per meg (400 megs per month)
Blubrry.com comes in at .08 per meg (250 Megs per month)

Note: If you want stats that provide details of where your downloads are coming from (countries) you need to have the $79 a month plan for 1.5 gigabytes of storage (which is overkill in 99% of the cases). With this in mind, I am taking podbean out of most of this discussion.

For me, I typically recommend the Libsyn.com account for $20. You get more than enough space and the ability to get a smart phone app. You also get deluxe stats.

Player

1. Soundcloud wins this one hands down. Reason? It's just cool. Does everything but play in a new window.
2. Blubrry Powerpress plugin provides the ability to stream, play in new window, or download.
3. Libsyn's player can do the same as the Powerpress player with some tweaking

My choice: I use the blubrry powerpress plugin to put a player on my site (you can use this even if you're not using Blubrry for hosting). Why not Soundcloud? Because soundcloud stats are not integrated with Libsyn or blubrry like Stitcher stats (hello Soundcloud if you're going to be in this space you better meet your neighbors). This means using soundcloud and another host will require you to check your stats in more than one place. At this point I'm getting negligible plays from the soundcloud website.

My favorite player for putting in a sidebar is the one from the Blubrry network (free).

Stats

Blubrry and Libsyn stats are very simliar with a slight edge to Blubrry for being more user friendly. Libsyn actually gives you more information (cities). Soundcloud can give you some of this information but not the platform (iphone, windows, etc) that Blubrry.com and Libsyn.com

1. Blubrry.com - great content, pretty, and easy to understand and exportable. Blubrry.com offers free stats that show downloads and a few other items.
2. Libsyn.com - very similar to blubrry.com (each shows some items the other does not) and exportable. If you're not using the $20 a month plan you get a download numbers only stats.
3. Soundcloud - Basic stats with some geographic location.
4. Podean.com - as mentioned earlier their stats are pitiful (download only, and can only be viewed one episode at a time) unless you 're using the $79/month.

Unique Capabilities

Soudcloud

Soundcloud's player is one of the coolest things on the planet. It makes your content easy to share, it works everywhere you can add a button to the player (for purchasing something, itunes, etc). The one thing it doesn't do is offer the ability to play in a new window.

Blubrry.com

Blubrry's key is ease of publishing. Once your audio file is done, you can enter your show notes (blog post) and when you upload the file it will take the title of your post and add it to the mp3 file in the ID3 tags. It will also "tag" the other fields in your file.

You do all of this from within the blubrry interface.

Blubrry.com has a distribution on the following:

  • Roku TV Box
  • Boxee TV Box
  • GoogleTV
  • Android
  • LookeeTV
  • Samsung SmartTV
  • And More!

Libsyn.com

Libsyn has a quick publish feature where you can enter your ID3 tags, and upload the file using an FTP software to a specific folder. The information from within your media file is then used to create an episode post on Libsyn.com This posting can then be replicated on your WordPress site, facebook page, tumblr.com, blogger.com, Linkedincom, youtube.com

If you have $20 a month plan or higher, you can get a smartphone app for your podcast for free. You can charge people for this, or you can spend a little money to get an Apple developer's license and give it away for free (you do need to pay an $10 a month to libsyn as they will provide the customer support for the app).

Libsyn also offers the ability to sell your back catalog. Top podcasters Marc Maron, Adam Corolla and others use this tool which you can find here.

Podbean

For $79 a month, you can manage your mailing list through podbean (or you can use a tool like Awber designed to handle mailing lists).

Frequently Asked Podcast Questions on Soundcloud

Can I have more than one podcast on Soundcloud? Kind of. I have all my old outdated (out if print if you will) shows on there as a test. There is only one RSS feed. If you are using your own website and rss feed you could use them as "just a media host."

What's the limitation of their free account? You can only upload a certain amount of files. When I first played with them, I would have to delete a file to upload a new one.

Fishy Things About Podbean and SoundCloud

While Libsyn and Blubrry have representatives in all of the podcasting communities. They are at our conventions. We know them by name. Todd, Mike, Angelo, Rob, Elsie, Krystal. Podbean and Soundcloud have no presence that I've seen. They have their websites and pretty much that's it.

Pobean does not list their address on their website. If you want it its:

501 Silverside Road, Suite 105 , Wilmington , DE , 19809 , United States
Phone: +1 514 969 1917

Why would you not list your address unless you don't want to be found?

Soundcloud has been around since 2008

5 million official SoundCloud apps have been downloaded. In 20012 they celebrated 10 million sound creators.

according to crunch base they've receive 123 million. In 2014 they received 60 million. Yet their podcasting tools are in beta, and you have to request to be in it.

Why is this still in beta after three years (it launched in January of 2011)?

 Summary

So is Soundcloud a legitimate podcast solution? They do pass all of my criteria, so with that I could say yes. For me, I am still a little nervous about a system that's been in development for THREE YEARS and has not come out of beta. I think their interfaceS (remember they are in the middle up upgrading heir interface) makes their system unfriendly, and their stats are not on par with the two companies I recommend which are Blubrry.com and Libsyn.com

I am using them as an additional distribution point to see if I get any traction over there. In reality, like any other platform, you get out of it what you put into it.

Shout Outs!

Thanks to Neil, "You were wrong Dave" Smith of undercountryradio.com for sharing his pain.

Check out the UK Podcasters event if you're in the UK

Joing the School of Podcasting today and avoid the pains of podcasting, or take a live coaching class