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Giving the Unheard a Voice

S15E3: Podcast Hosts!

In this season, The Way of The Podcaster, I’m delving more deeply into my podcasting philosophy. Today’s instalment, Podcast Hosts, looks at what to expect from a host from the Less is More viewpoint. 

What is Podcast Hosting?

A few definitions to kick us off. A podcast host is a repository of your audio files. It is from here your podcast player draws the file. Whenever you upload/publish to your host your RSS feed is updated. The predominant force in podcasting, Apple Podcasts, notes the new episode in their directory and all the other apps pulling from that directory update the feeds in their players. There are some exceptions and I’ll get to them later. That is how the majority of podcast apps/players let your listeners know your new episode is ready.

Your host keeps your audio files for as long as the company remains solvent and, with paid hosting, you make your payments. For free hosting options, there are some time limits or limits on the total amount of audio or no limits at all.

This many years into the interwebs we should all be aware that when a thing is free, we are the product being on sold to another entity. This can happen with paid services too but the probability is lower with a paid service. 

Hosting services generally do more than just host audio files. They provide statistics of some sort and all stats are not born equal. They can assist with pushing your show to those players who do not draw from Apple and they provide you with a simple RSS feed in an https:// location for lodging with Apple Podcast Connect.

Less Is More to a Point

Before we look at the free and paid options let’s circle back to Less is More. In the case of gear and software, the fewer components the better, in my opinion. There is a point though where less is less. Using the built in mics on a laptop rather than a mic of some sort would diminish the quality of a show. The same is true with hosting options. If we remember from the start of this episode, a host holds your audio files and makes them available to podcast apps so that listeners can hear them. This is the absolute minimum requirement. I look for hosts that add benefits such as pushing a show to those systems not drawing from the Apple Podcasts directory. In this area there’s an opportunity to jump on the Less is More approach. 

Most of the hosts allow you to push your show to Spotify, Youtube, Youtube Music, Samsung and maybe one or two others. The trick is to find a host with all these and as many other services as possible. The mentioned services, take your audio file and change it in some way to host it themselves. The “create their own walled garden” effect. It is a quirk of history that Apple, the ultimate walled garden company does the exact opposite. Life is full of oddities like this. Now if your host does not provide a “one and done” way of placing your show with these off RSS feed entities, you can lodge your show with them, one at a time, each with their own different websites and forms. This is unnecessarily time consuming and fraught with error.

The third requirement you need from your host is stats. Here the world becomes very complicated. There is an agreed industry standard: the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). If you plan to add advertisements to your show, you’ll pretty much need a host certified with this system. They have a few quirks and they are designed for advertisers but they are the best industry standard available.

Free Hosting

The place many new podcasters go first is SoundCloud. It’s free (at the base level) you receive three hours of hosting a month. The ability to push your show outside the RSS system is limited to nil. The stats available are, well, iffy. There’s a whole industry out on the interwebs that will create clicks for cash. This will bump your stats but anyone in the podcast and music spheres discounts these as irrelevant. The music sphere I just mentioned is another clue as to why you shouldn’t bother with soundcloud, it is primarily a music creation platform.

However, SoundCloud is a great example of what most “free” hosting provides. Not much. A limited, there are exceptions, number of uploads and/or downloads per month, basic if not actual dodgy stats and a limited ability to spread your show to the farthest corners of the listening world.

The benefits are you can start without a cash cost, you can experiment with your show before going to a more professional footing and if you discover the Way of the Podcaster is not for you, no financial harm done.

As I said, I started off on Soundcloud and transitioned to Libsyn after a month or two. It was a long time ago and I’ve stayed with Libsyn ever since. I have used Podbean, both paid and free options, and transitioned the paid across to Libsyn. The free option was chosen for a client organisation as they had funding constraints and the show scope fitted within the upload limits of five hours. Not perfect but a really good fit for the client who is happy to have their show out in the wild and good enough stats to meet their compliance requirements.

Paid Hosting

The old saying, “You get what you pay for” exists for a reason. As I mentioned I’ve paid for hosting with Podbean and Libsyn. The differences are quite instructive. Libsyn starts at $5 per month plus another $2 to have access to stats. Podbean (after the free option) starts at $9. Both upload without difficulty, audio is available without issues, the stats are basic but useful. A major difference is in the off RSS feed options. Libsyn and Podbean offer plenty of options from other podcast systems, Spotify, Amazon Music and Youtube being the big three, to socials and website systems, WordPress and Blogger. They both offer players for your website. From a personal choice perspective, I prefer the Libsyn player and its integration with WordPress which I use for all my sites. You can see both players at my “Current Project” page, link in the show notes. 

There are plenty of other paid options out there. The things to look for are:

  1. Up time
  2. Stats
  3. Distribution
  4. Costs

By maintaining the just enough is enough mindset you’ll find the hosting provider you need. Remember, you can always change hosts. So before you sign up, make sure your hosts will facilitate this process. I’ve never had an issue moving from SoundCloud nor from Podbean to Libsyn. Libsyn is an older company in the space which might be a thing to consider.

Libsyn’s been around since 2004, the birth of podcasting and still doing well so that brings a level of comfort as a customer. Another old school hosting service is Blubrry, 2005, that has a good reputation too. I’ve never used them but they have longevity on their side. Their base hosting packages start at $12 a month. I should add here, all the prices quoted are in USD so if you use AUD, UKP, Euros or Kenyan Shillings, you’ll have to make the adjustments.

Bringing It All Together

Find yourself a host who meets your requirements where you are now. As a beginner you might consider a free service or the basic service from a paid hosting service. Look for distribution options, quality of stats and upload/download limits per month. 


A bit like gear and software, once you have a host you’re happy with, set and forget for twelve months. Gear, software and hosting can be reviewed annually if you think you need to. I’ve been using the same gear for 6 years, the same software for 5 and the same host since 2016. These are the three areas that seem most confusing for the new podcaster when really they are the least important, once you have them up and running. Decisions need to be made but once made can be set aside for a year or longer. 

The thing that really makes a difference is the presentation and that will be the subject of the next episode.

In Show Links

Apple Podcast Connect

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)


Current Project: