8 Best Podcast Hosting Platforms 2018
An Overview and Review of the Best Hosting Platforms
07.09.18 | Podcasting Basics | By: Jon Street
If you’ve ever gone through the steps to purchasing a home you know that it can be a real…process. Translation? It can be an absolute headache. It’s rare to hear someone say their home-buying experience was a total breeze. It’s usually time consuming and it takes a lot of dedicated patience. But putting it into perspective, you are looking to invest in something that will be a long-term asset which will be a home for your family; a place of comfort and enjoyment for years to come. And that takes time to find. It’s rare that people fall in love with the first house they look at. Rather, they spend hours looking to see what’s available, they schedule walkthroughs and then finally, after finding the right one, they submit an offer while crossing their fingers that the deal doesn’t fall apart on them. It can be a painstaking process but with the end goal of finding that little piece of paradise to call your own. It’s not just a pile of brick and mortar you’re after, but rather a place to live in, a shelter, a place to connect with friends or loved ones. It will be an important part of ongoing life and it needs to be the right fit. The point? Well, in a similar way a podcast also needs to find a home. It needs a place to call it’s own, where it can settle in to live and be heard by the world; a place where it can get connected to the podcast directories for consumption. And finding the right place can be a bit of a process as well. Now obviously the importance of this decision is very trivial when compared to the decisions around buying an actual home. But in many ways it can seems like an equally headachey process. And just like many home buyers seek guidance or input from trusted sources and those around them with knowhow, podcasters also need some advice on what to look for in a podcast hosting platform. When you start the process of looking there are many questions that are raised: What is it? What do I look for? What are the options? How are they different? How do I choose? Is this a one-time decision? I know it can be (more than) a little overwhelming. With these questions and others in mind I hope to offer you a simplified overview that will help you navigate the world of podcast hosting platforms with the aim of giving you a guide to understand what to look for and how to make the buying decision on the one that’s right for you.
Best Podcast Hosting Platforms of 2018:
What is a podcast hosting platform?
In a previous article we discussed the barebones basics of what a podcast hosting platform is with the aim of helping the reader understand how it’s important to the process of getting a podcast live. Following the analogy offered above though, the hosting platform is the home where your podcast lives. It is the place all of your episodes will be uploaded to be broadcast to the world. And since most people will not hear your podcast directly from the hosting platform (with some exceptions), the hosting site generates a “signal” called an RSS feed, which links the hosting platform to the different podcast directories where people will listen to it, sites like iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn, Spotify and even YouTube. Needless to say finding and setting up the hosting is an essential step in the process of getting your podcast out to the public since without it, your podcast won’t exist!
What to look for in a hosting platform?
There a lot of options when looking for podcast hosting platforms. And there are an ever-growing number of hosting sites to choose from in 2018. There are a variety of options each host offers that can either simplify…or complicate the decision making process. There are variations based on the listener target demographic, features, pricing, ease of use, compatibility with landing page or website, networking options, monetization and variations on how to track your analytics. These are all important elements that people find real value in. So as you set out on the journey it’s important to get your bearings to know what you’re really in search of. What’s important to others might not be important to you. The challenge, especially for first-time podcasters, is knowing what is most important and understand what’s most valuable. Knowing the headache this has caused for our own podcasters I want to help by offering a brief overview for you in hopes of helping to bring some sort of clarity on this idea of podcast hosting platforms. While we can’t go into great detail on all of the options, I will offer a simple overview of 8 of the most popular platforms and share about our experience with each one.
The Platforms 2018
Overview: PodBean is a household name in the podcast hosting world. However PodBean is unique because it is not only a hosting platform but it has also become a platform for the direct consumption of podcasts as well. Think of it like another podcast directory. While most hosting platforms are simply the home for the podcast which sends episodes to the directories, PodBean offers a place where their podcasts are featured, categorized and presented for direct consumption. This is a real advantage to the podcasts they host because they offer greater exposure in some regards than other traditional hosting platforms.
- Website builder and full-featured podcast site
- Reliable cloud hosting
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
- iTunes and play store support
- Search engine optimized
- Your own domain and branding
Differentiators: While most podcasting hosts offer support around advertising and monetization, PodBean is quickly growing its influence through offering advertising, premium content and crowdfunding options for podcasters who are looking to grow their listenership in the future. They also see the growing value in video for podcasting and are gearing their offerings to support that medium as well.
Learn more about PodBean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NmybFhbM0k
Overview: Liberated Syndication, known as Libsyn, is the largest and oldest podcast hosting platform. It’s been around nearly as long as podcasts have been and they pioneered the concept of hosting and publishing podcasts. Yeah, really. It’s no surprise then that in many ways it’s seen as the godfather of hosting platforms. That being said, they are not always as user-friendly as many other platforms around and their setup process can be a little…clunky. But because of their notoriety and the respect many people give them as the leader in the industry, they are a real contender for the home for your podcast. They offer a variety of features for every level of podcaster, from initial publishing/hosting to analytics and advertisement opportunities. Most people are drawn to them because of they are the household name in podcast hosting with great customer support.
- Unlimited Downloads
- Media Hosting – audio and video
- Your own webpage for your show
- An Apple Podcasts and iTunes compatible RSS feed for your podcast
- HTML5 video and audio player
- Single click multiple destination publishing with OnPublish
- Network App Listing
Differentiators: Unlike most hosting sites who can only broadcast your RSS feed to all of the directories, Libysn offers the ability for you to publish your content to specific directories which enables you to appeal to specific audiences. This allows you to be unique and offer something special or exclusive to certain target audiences of your listeners.
Pricing: $5-$75/month (based on storage needs); Use promo code “RECORD” when signing up at Libsyn and receive the rest of the current month and the entire next month for free*.
Learn more about Libsyn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPpfk_PKCNw
Overview: Buzzsprout, like many of the other platforms listed, is well-known and respected in the industry. What they offer is a solid and reputable hosting platform for podcasters that ensures their podcasts get where they need to go. All pay plans include, unlimited storage, 250GB bandwidth per month, the podcast migration tool, and no advertising. Also when you signup using this link, Buzzsprout will give you a $20 Amazon gift card.
- Unlimited Storage
- 250GB Bandwidth Per Month
- The Podcast Migration Tool
- No Advertising
Pricing: Free-$24/month (based on length of uploaded audio and length of time hosted)
Differentiators: An easy to use platform with a free plan option and Add-On service of 128k Stereo Optimization
Learn more about Buzzsprout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpVp5WaAyKo
Overview: A less well-known option as the previous entries, Spreaker is a unique and refreshing option that is providing a new take on the podcast hosting scene. What makes their philosophy so unique and appealing is that they market themselves to the streaming and engagement needs of our modern day. While most hosting platforms are pretty plain-vanilla when it comes to direct engagement with the listener, Spreaker interestingly enough offers an audience chat feature for direct interaction with listeners as they stream your episodes. Additionally they are building on that modern day mantra by self-promoting themselves as the trendy podcast listening platform. While they offer a wide variety of podcasts, they are known for their pop-culture and celebrity host podcasts which embibe their heartbeat.
- 5 hours to Unlimited Audio Storage
- Embedded Player
- Multiple Shows
- Chat While Streaming Live
- Distribution to iTunes, Sonos, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Amazon Alexa
Pricing: $0-$120/month (based off of hours of audio uploaded) Use promo code “RECORD” when signing up at Spreaker and get a free month of hosting
Differentiators: Because they are focused more on appealing to our modern streaming culture, their pricing structure is based off of hours of streaming. They also offer a unique live audio streaming feature as well as greater simplicity to publish your podcast episodes to YouTube, Sonos and iHeart radio.
Learn more about Spreaker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE6BaODiKGU
Overview: audioBoom is another well-known name but they have a bit of a unique flavor. While most hosting platforms are geared towards the individual podcaster, audioBoom has the advantaged corner on a unique part of the podcasting market. While they do offer the prototypical hosting opportunities for the average Joe, they are also positioned to be a great asset for podcasting networks and radio groups looking for a simple, clean interface to oversee all of the podcasts in their network. They appeal themselves to be the solution to the network looking for a one-stop-shop to oversee multiple podcasts at once. And they do a great job. Not only that, if you’re a heavy-hitter in the podcasting world they also offer some real (and amazing) opportunities for monetization and advertisements through their well-connected network of podcasts.
- Publish up to 5 episodes per month
- Up to 10,000 plays per month
- Distribution via Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, GooglePlay and Stitcher
- Advanced analytics
- Embeddable Players for your website and social media integration
Differentiators: As mentioned, their biggest differentiator is the support and partnership they offer they target clients as they are geared towards larger podcast networks and conglomerates.
Pricing: Plans start at $10/monthly
Learn more about audioBoom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfpeUT2mLic
Overview: Blubrry is a hosting platform that seems to be gaining tremendous traction, though their name doesn’t seem to be doing them any favors. No, it’s not blubbery, like a whale, it’s blueberry like the fruit. You’re welcome. While their overall services are compatible to other options and their publishing interface is a little…lackluster and clunky, they do offer tremendous value to the marketing-minded podcaster. Blubrry’s claim to podcast fame is their tremendous WordPress page management and plugin support, right from the homepage. With so many podcasters looking to boost SEO and overall exposure through marketing opportunities like websites and landing pages, they are appealing to this need through tailoring their services to offer a hassle-free option to podcasters looking for solutions.
- Storage with no-fault overage
- Professional Statistics
- Long-tail podcasting
- FTP or Web upload options
- World-class CDN (over 35 data centers worldwide)
- Free migration
- Media validation
Pricing: $12-$80/month (based on upload storage)
Differentiators: As mentioned, apart from their plain-Jane user interfaces and overall meh-ness, the fact that they simply integrate with WordPress sites and offer seamless integration of your podcast and your website, it’s worth the look.
Learn more about Blubrry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=r4BO7PVspGA
Overview: Now it may be a surprise to many podcasters that this name is being mentioned. SoundCloud has been a tycoon in the music industry for years, but they are now transitioning to be more relevant in the podcasting world as well. And it makes sense. Similar to PodBean, SoundCloud is not only a hosting site but also marketed to offer direct consumption through their platform, with great notoriety. And while they are no doubt successfully gearing themselves towards broadening audio art platforms, the reality is that they are new to the podcast space and seem to still be figuring out what matters to podcasters. Their analytics and user features are still limited but their experience does offer a unique blend of social networking and podcast hosting.
- 3 hour-unlimited hours of monthly uploads
- 175 million unique monthly listeners
- Embedded players
- Twitter cards
- Timed comments
Pricing: Free-$16/month (based on length of uploaded episodes)
Differentiators: Though their blunders in the podcast hosting space seem to be apparent (yet getting better), they do offer a direct messaging feature which allows you to connect with your listeners and enhance the listeners overall user experience.
Learn more about SoundCloud: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18&v=nyScT_UviKM
Overview: In many ways Anchor seems to be the new kid on the hosting block, but they are doing everything they can to offer some refreshing, unique and original. Similar to Spreaker’s aim at appealing to the binge-consuming and celebrity needs of our culture, Anchor has designed it’s entire hosting platform around the world’s craze with mobile devices. They are identifying themselves as the mobile-friendly podcasting host that is tailoring their services around the phones and handheld devices. They offer the ability to record your podcast episode on your phone, upload or share it to their platform, add in your own additional tracks or intro/outro music and publish it to the major directories, without having to get up off the couch.
- 100% Free (with strings attached)
- Automatic transcription
- Mobile friendly
- Straightforward analytics
Pricing: Completely free (well sorta… read on)
FREE – Too good to be true? Be aware that when you use Anchor there are some drawbacks, here is one from their Terms of Service, “By submitting User Content through the Services, you hereby do and shall grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free, fully paid-up, sublicensable and transferable license to use, edit, modify (including the right to create derivative works of), aggregate, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Content in connection with the operation of the Services, the promotion, advertising or marketing of the Services, or any other purposes. You agree that this license includes, without limitation, the right for Anchor to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make User Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Anchor for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such User Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such User Content use. Such license shall survive the termination of your Account or the Services.” Anchor is a great free platform if you are ok with them using, editing, modifying, reproducing, and distributing your podcast.
Differentiators: Anchor’s marketing labels their hosting services as be free. While this leads one to question the profitability of their model, it seems to be working as they are offering other unique features like one-click directory set-up that seems to be appealing to podcasters near and far.
Learn more about Anchor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXDXHcyPfPA
Who We Recommend
This is merely a sampling of the options out there for your podcast hosting. But what I wanted to offer was a broad, diverse sampling to help you see the differences available to you as you being your search or look for a new home. And while that is all well and good, the reality is the nature of our work necessitates we give direct guidance and advice for our clients and partners. As many people ask, who do we choose? At Resonate Recordings as of 2018, we have decided to partner with PodBean for podcast hosting. PodBean has a unique blend of being approachable, affordable, user-friendly and they just get what matters to podcasters. Not only that but they offer their podcasts unique features that others can’t. From their own branded podcast which interviews the podcasters they host, to unique partnership opportunities, they are looking for ways to make themselves valuable to their podcasters. And what’s more valuable than offering you a free month of hosting? Want to learn more? Call the Resonate team today to learn more about this exclusive offer.
Obviously there is a lot of content here. Hopefully we’ve made the ewaters a little easier to navigate. Our recommendation is that you choose an options not just based off of your needs now, but your possible future needs. Find a platform that is willing to get behind you through the features they offer and the support they will give you as your listenership grows. Find out what specific features they offer for new podcasters and seasoned podcasters to see what might be best for you. And remember, just like when buying a home, it doesn’t have to be a “forever” decision. You can migrate the hosting of your podcast to another platform whenever you;’d like and with (usually) minimal headache. Need help finding out how to do that? The Resonate team is here to help!
*Terms for Libsyn promo code:
1. The promo code is only valid for new users with a new show on Libsyn. Users with additional shows already on Libsyn cannot redeem the offer.
2. Your billing information is required at time of account set up to use the promo code.
3. If users cancel their billing during the first partial month – then the account is suspended at the end of that month.
4. If users make changes to their level of service during the free period – the free offer is suspended & the account transfers into payment mode. Users will be charged a prorated amount for that current month.
By: Jon Street
As the Production Manager at Resonate Recordings, Jon leads the production team and ensures that all our podcasters have everything needed to release consistent high-quality episodes. Jon and his family are from West Palm Beach, Florida and now live in Simpsonville, KY.