When we launch a new podcast, we start by releasing a trailer (a short audio teaser). This is similar to the way movie studios releases trailers to promote upcoming films. While the teaser does help with advance promotion, that’s not the only reason we do it. The main reason we produce a teaser is to ensure that when we publish the first episode of a new podcast series, that episode is released everywhere simultaneously. Here’s why:
Podcasting: Hosting Companies vs. Directories
In podcasting, there are two different types of platforms: hosts and directories. A host — such a Libsyn, Blubrry, Art 19, Spreaker, or Omny Studio — is the location where a podcast’s audio files are housed. The host serves the same purpose that GoDaddy does with a website. Of course, nobody goes to GoDaddy to visit a website; instead, they pull the website files into a browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. The same is true in podcasting. People don’t visit the host to listen to a podcast; instead, they access the podcast files through a directory like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Understanding Podcast RSS Feeds
When we’re getting ready to launch a podcast, we set it up on a hosting platform. We then need to connect our hosting account to all of the different directories that listeners will go to to access the podcast. We do this by connecting the host to the directories with an RSS feed.
An RSS feed is a web-based feed that podcast listeners can use to automatically receive new episodes of their favorite shows. When a podcast releases a new episode, its RSS feed is updated with the new content. This update is then pushed out to all subscribers, who can then choose to download the new episode. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” and it’s an incredibly efficient way to keep podcast fans up-to-date on new episodes. In order to subscribe to a podcast’s RSS feed, listeners need a podcast app or software that supports RSS (such as Apple Podcasts), or they can simply copy-and-paste the podcast’s RSS URL into their app, and they’ll start receiving new episodes as soon as they’re released. I find it easiest to think of the RSS feed as a pipe: every time we upload a new audio file to the host, it gets pumped through the pipe to the different directories.
Podcast Trailers Get the Launch Timing Right
To connect the pipe to a podcast directory, there needs to be an audio file in it. But when we first submit an RSS feed to each of the directories, they can take days or even weeks for the submission to get approved. So if that first audio file in the pipe is the premiere episode of the podcast, it might go live in Spotify tomorrow but now show up in Apple Podcasts until next week. This uncertainty can disrupt the promotional plan behind a podcast launch.
That’s why we use a trailer as the first audio file when creating a new podcast. It allows us to submit the podcast’s RSS feed to different directories and provide enough lead time for the various approval processes. Once the teaser goes live in all of the directories, we can safely upload the first episode to our host, knowing that it will get pushed out and published to all of the different destinations at the same time. In short, by using a trailer to set up the podcast, we can ensure a simultaneous launch of the first episode.
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