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(by Elsie Escobar) One of the top questions that podcast hosting and distribution companies get on a daily basis, multiple times a day, is this (or a variation thereof):
I published my latest episode and it’s not showing up on iTunes, what’s wrong? Help!
Before I get into how to troubleshoot this and save you some hair-pulling, stress inducing time, Apple does not want you to refer to Apple Podcasts as iTunes.
They are very much wanting the podcasting industry to say Apple Podcasts when referring to their behemoth podcast directory.
That also applies to your calls to action (listen in Apple Podcasts,) your tagging of social media (@ApplePodcasts not @iTunes) and the podcast buttons that you use on your website: Apple Podcasts or Apple Podcasts/iTunes, NOT just iTunes.
Got it? Ok, moving on.
Understanding The Apple Podcasts Directory
Apple Podcasts/iTunes is, at it’s core, a very large storefront where you can find, subscribe to and listen to podcasts and their episodes. Apple Podcasts (AP) does not host anybody’s media files. AP serves as the access point. It is 100% a directory.
Using the storefront metaphor, AP serves to call your attention and invite you to shop. If you are interested, you tap on the item you like and find out information about it: the title, the description, and of course the episodes.
If you like what you see, then you take action: you can subscribe, download, and listen.
What you do on that storefront sends a message to wherever the media files are living (generally a podcast-specific media host) and they serve the file to the end user.
Basic Apple Podcasts Response Expectations
Write this down: Anytime that you take action with your podcast RSS feed, change an episode name, change the name of your podcast, change your artwork, update your podcast description, release a new episode, etc. EXPECT CHANGES TO TAKE PLACE WITHIN A BUSINESS DAY OR SO.
Yep. Not an exact science.
Is that clear?
If you update your show description → 24 hours or so.
If you change your podcasts artwork → 24 hours or so.
If you replace your media file → 24 hours or so.
Can it happen sooner? Yes, it can.
But please set your expectations accordingly.
Re-updating or continuing to change something over and over again will not make things go faster. Remember, rule of thumb is that AP will reflect updates within 24 hours, give or take.
How To Troubleshoot Why Your Episode Is Not Showing Up In Apple Podcasts in 6 Easy Steps
Step 1: Subscribe to your own show.
This is the number one way to find out if anything is wrong.
Subscribe to your show in Apple Podcasts as well as two other podcast apps of your choice. If you happen to have access to iOS and Android, subscribe to one in each platform.
Why is this important?
Ninety-nine percent of the time, if your latest episode is showing up and you can play your episode in all of your apps, there is nothing wrong with your episode nor your podcast.
All of your subscribers are getting your latest episode.
All people searching for your podcast can find it and see your latest episode.
All other directories, Spotify, Overcast, iHeartRadio, etc., are also getting your latest episode.
Step 2: Make sure that your RSS feed is valid.
As robust as RSS feeds are, sometimes they can be easily broken.
My suggestion is that you validate your feed every time that you publish a new episode. Make it part of your workflow. It will take you seconds to do, and also save you time in troubleshooting when things happen to go wrong.
You can validate your feed by going to a feed validator. Here are two of my favorites:
Go to either of those feed validators, enter your RSS feed, and press “Enter.” These feed validators do their thing and give you a yes or a no on whether or not your feed is valid.
If it is valid, go about your business. All is well.
If it’s not, look at the “errors” shown and fix them yourself – or you can contact your podcast hosting and distribution company’s help desk for help. These folks are there to help you fix these feed errors, use them.
There is another feed validator in the mix, one that is well known: feedvalidator.org. Unfortunately, that validator often gives errors when there aren’t any. It’s best to avoid using that validator for your podcast feed validation.
Why is this important?
Since AP gets it’s information from your RSS feed, when something is wrong with the feed it could cause issues with updates and the storefront. Once the errors are fixed, the store receives the updated feed and it adjusts to reflect the newest changes.
Step 3: Make sure that your Artwork is up to spec.
One noted matter that causes issues in AP in updating the storefront is podcast artwork not being the right size and dimensions. This includes both podcast show artwork and podcast episode artwork.
Apple shares some guidelines here.
In this Libsyn Helpdesk article these are the suggested specs:
Under 500kb Use rGB color space
Be a JPG, JPEG, or a PNG file
In dealing with the Apple Podcasts Directory not updating, podcast hosting companies noticed that podcast show and episode artwork that was larger than 500 kb seemed to be an issue.
In addition to making sure that your artwork is square and within the required dimensions also make sure that the file size is no bigger than 500 kb.
After making sure that you’ve checked Steps 1 - 3 and all is well, it’s time for Step 4.
Step 4: Refresh your feed in Podcasts Connect
You must sign in with the same Apple ID with which you submitted your podcast into Apple Podcasts.
From the dropdown menu in the top-left corner choose My Podcasts.
Click onto your podcast artwork.
At the bottom left of that page there is an option to Refresh Feed, click on that.
And now…Step 5
Step 5: Wait 24 hours
Remember? We started this whole article with this.
You might not have to wait that long.
To remind you, anytime you make updates to your podcast RSS feed, whether it be artwork, title, author, description, or publishing an episode, Apple states to wait 24 hours before the changes take place.
Most of the time changes happen instantaneously – sometimes they take a few minutes and sometimes it takes up to 24 hours.
If you have gone through steps 1 - 4 and all is well, then you hang for 24 hours.
That is what most podcast hosting support teams will tell you to do.
And speaking of podcast hosting support teams, here is the final step.
Step 6: Reach out to your podcast hosting or podcast RSS provider’s support team
If after 24 hours, your podcast episode is still not showing up in the AP Directory, then contact your podcast hosting and distribution host for help.
Make sure that you tell them what you have already done: you see the episode on your feed, you’ve validated your feed, you have the proper specs for your podcast artwork, you’ve refreshed your feed in Podcasts Connect and you have waited 24 hours.
This will help the support team better assist you.
If you see a fellow podcaster pulling out their hair because ITUNES IS NOT SHOWING MY LATEST EPISODE!!!!!
Calmly let them know that it’s Apple Podcasts and share this article with them. They will thank you.
Elsie Escobar is the Community Manager (aka Podcasting Happiness Expert) at Libsyn. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Elsie’s podcasts are The Feed: The Official Libsyn Podcast and She Podcasts.
Omg what an awesome article! Thank you Elsie! Can I translate it to portuguese and share, linking back to this original article, of course, on this free podcasting forum? I am in a journey to make information about podcasting accesible for brazilian and portuguese speaking producers, and language has proven to be one of, if not *the* greater barrier that my fellow producers ecounter. Thanks so much in advance, even if you can’t or won’t give the permission, I understand that there are many reasons for not doing so and I won’t make light of the privilege it would be if you choose to give it. The forum I am talking about is podosfera.org It os organized by a small but passionate brazilian host company but it is and always will be a free space.