RogerBW's Blog

Getting your podcast onto iTunes and Spotify 12 March 2021

One of the podcasts I work on has been on iTunes for a while, which was done back when it was easier. Now the other two are as well, and they're all on Spotify too. Here's how to achieve this, from a standing start.

Mind you, I'm not really sure why this is regarded as a good idea. I just get my podcasts via RSS, download the episode files, and, er, listen to them. But some of the listeners apparently find this Terribly Difficult. And I suppose some luckless wight might actually stumble across us…

You need to sort out the RSS feed first. This is still something like a standard, though not a well-documented one. Apple lists a set of required tags, but not the formats for them: for example they say you need an <itunes:image>, but not that it needs an href attribute rather than text content:

<itunes:image href="/path/to/artwork" />

Apple also insist on having artwork, at least 1400 pixels square even though it'll hardly ever be displayed at that size, with an appropriate extension (.jpg/.png).

That's the easy bit. You also need an Apple ID. But not just any old Apple ID… first you have to create it which is fine (though you have to give them a phone number to abuse). Then you need to get it accepted as a thing that can talk to Apple Podcasts. And that means running iTunes.

Now for those of you using Windows or Mac this is easier. There is no Linux version of iTunes. (Yes, you cannot legally put a podcast on iTunes without paying for a proprietary operating system.) So I ended up building a Windows X VirtualBox guest, and installing iTunes on that. All you have to do then is fire it up once, log in, go through the billing information pages (you can continue without giving them your credit card details, though how may not be immediately obvious), then shut it down again.

Now you can get at Podcasts Connect and give it your podcast's feed address, validate the feed, and send it for human review - which may take a day or two and you may or may not get told about it when it's completed.

iTunes seems to sort episodes by order of appearance in the RSS feed,; if you want other information for the listener, like episode numbers or groupings, you'll have to put them in the individual item's <title> or <description> tags.

Spotify is less faff, in large part because you only need a simple login with them, not an Apple ID that will do lots of different things and therefore needs to be protected. (You can use your Apple ID here, or a Facebook login, but the sort of people who'd be happy to do that probably aren't reading this blog.)

Unlike Apple, they insist on having an email address in the RSS feed to which they can send a confirmation code. Having this in an <itunes:owner><itunes:email> tag set apparently wasn't enough for them; it worked when I added the older <managingeditor> and <webmaster> tags, though they're now deprecated. (Like Apple, they give you minimal diagnostics if the thing doesn't work – "you must have an email address" but not where or how. I suppose a typical podcast creator these days is relying on a third party to build their RSS feed for them and couldn't use the diagnostics even if they were given.)

Also unlike Apple, Spotify will promptly download all the episodes in your feed, presumably to transcode them or something.


  1. Posted by J Michael Cule at 01:26pm on 12 March 2021

    I can see that I should have given you more than a nod and 'Yes, yes, fine' when you told me about Spotify this week.

    (INSERT APPROPRIATE FANFARES AND ANIMATIONS OF FIREWORKS HERE.)

    I suspect that all this (or something very like it) is behind the numerous times I try to get the computer to set something new up for me and it crashes without telling me why.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:43pm on 12 March 2021

    Nothing involved in any of this has anything to do with any computer of yours.

    (If you're trying to use Spotify or iTunes, search me guv, I don't use the things I just put up content for other people.)

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