Podcast media hosting explained and compared

Podcast Media Hosting 712x400 Podcast media hosting explained and compared

Learn all of the popular podcast media hosting models and how LibSyn will be changing in February, 2014 for their current and new customers.

Before I explain LibSyn‘s change (“monthly reset storage” below), you should understand the different models media hosting companies

Confusing: “rolling storage”

podcast media hosting rolling storage conveyor belt e1391115134516 712x400 Podcast media hosting explained and compared

Photo Credit: xmacex via Compfight cc

LibSyn and Blubrry have previously employed a “rolling storage” model for quite some time. Let’s say you get 100 MB per month. With “rolling storage,” you could upload a 20 MB file today, and you would get that space back in exactly thirty days from when you uploaded/activated the file. If you upload another 20 MB file next week, you would get that space back another thirty days from then. And so it goes. The potential storage is unlimited, but you only upload so much at a time.

The easiest way to picture this is as a conveyor belt. The belt can only hold 100 MB at any time, but anything you place on that conveyor belt will consume space for 30 days from when you placed it.

This is often confusing and frustrating to podcasters. Even I have struggled sometimes to figure out whether I have enough space to upload an extra episode today, and then another episode in a few days.

This all changed for LibSyn in February, 2014, and Blubrry changes in August, 2014.

Limited: “fixed storage”

podcast media hosting fixed storage hard drive e1391115227778 712x400 Podcast media hosting explained and compared

Photo Credit: William Hook via Compfight cc

Some media hosts (like PodOmatic, Spreaker, and SoundCloud) will treat your storage as a regular web hosting company would and give you “fixed storage.” These plans are like hard drives; you can use the storage at any time, but once you fill it up, you need to delete stuff or upgrade.

This method is the easiest to understand because you can know that your limit never changes or resets. But this model can also be difficult for growth because you may eventually run out of space and have to remove old episodes if you can’t afford to add more storage.

Crazy: “unlimited storage”

podcast media hosting unlimited storage speed limit e1391115335356 712x400 Podcast media hosting explained and compared

Photo Credit: the.Official via Compfight cc

Amazon S3 and Rackspace CloudFiles are popular file hosts for much more than podcast media. These and similar companies will host as much as you give them, but they’ll charge you for how much you store and how much it gets downloaded. The more you grow, the more expensive this gets.

Other companies, like one plan from SoundCloud, will offer unlimited storage but place limits on how much your media can be downloaded. This is fine for small audiences, even if you have a lot of content. But if you have a large audience and release a lot of content, you may hit these bandwidth limits every month.

This unlimited storage but unlimited bandwidth is like a speed limit to your podcast’s growth (although actual download speeds aren’t affected).

Easy: “monthly reset storage”

LibSyn‘s and Blubrry‘s new media hosting model, which I call “monthly reset storage,” is a lot easier to understand.

You can use your upload storage at any time within the calendar month; the storage will reset on the first day of each  month. Your potential storage is unlimited, but you can only upload a limited amount per month.

If you pay for 100 MB per month, you can upload up to 100 MB at the beginning of the month or the end. It really doesn’t matter because you’ll get another 100 MB to use for the next calendar month. If today is the last day of the month, you could fill up the rest of your 100 MB today (even if it’s for episodes you’ll publish next month), and you’ll get a new 100 MB of space to use starting tomorrow.

No matter how much of your upload limit you use, or when you use it, you get it all back on the first day of every month. It’s like a glass that you can fill slowly or quickly throughout the month, but the glass gets emptied for new content every month. (Your old content will always remain accessible.)

This will be much easier to understand and manage. You will no longer have to schedule your uploads for just the right time and plan out how much storage you’ll need in a week. It’s now simple math.

Neither LibSyn nor Blubrry are the first to offer “monthly reset storage,” PodBean has been offering this same model for a while (except that PodBean’s cheapest plan offers limited bandwidth).

Comparison of podcast media hosts

The other, popular podcast media hosts offer different storage methods. As of January, 2014, here’s how each of them stack up.

  • LibSyn offers “monthly reset storage” with unlimited bandwidth for fixed monthly fees.
  • Blubrry will soon offer “monthly reset storage” with unlimited bandwidth for fixed monthly fees. They will also offer up to 25% of padding for when you need a little extra space near the end of your term.
  • PodOmatic offers fixed storage with monthly bandwidth limits for fixed monthly fees.
  • SoundCloud fixed and unlimited storage plans, based on minutes of audio (not file size), with unlimited bandwidth for fixed monthly fees.
  • Spreaker offers fixed storage plans, based on minutes of audio (not file size), with unlimited bandwidth for fixed monthly fees.
  • PodBean offers “monthly reset storage” with limited and unlimited bandwidth plans for fixed monthly fees.
  • Amazon S3 and Rackspace CloudFiles offer unlimited storage with unlimited bandwidth for monthly fees based on how much storage and bandwidth you use.
  • Standard web hosting companies (like BlueHost or HostGator) offer fixed storage with fixed bandwidth (even though they claim “unlimited”) for fixed monthly fees.
Storage Bandwidth Fees
LibSyn Monthly reset Unlimited Fixed monthly
Blubrry Monthly reset Unlimited Fixed monthly
PodOmatic Fixed Monthly limits Free and fixed monthy or yearly
SoundCloud Fixed or unlimited Unlimited Free and fixed monthly or yearly
Spreaker Fixed Unlimited Free and fixed monthly or yearly
PodBean Monthly reset Limited or unlimited Fixed monthly or yearly
Amazon S3,
Rackspace CloudFiles
Unlimited Unlimited Monthly, based on usage
Standard web hosting Fixed Limited Fixed monthly

Recommendation: LibSyn for simplicity

LibSyn logo on dark 300x148 Podcast media hosting explained and comparedI think LibSyn continues to offer the storage best value and flexibility. They’re also the only third-party company you can trust with your RSS feed if you don’t use your own website’s feed or don’t have your own site.

You can use LibSyn to create your basic podcast site, power your RSS feed, and host your media.

LibSyn offers great stats, too, so you can see how many downloads each episode gets and how it is being downloaded.

If you want an Android or iOS app for your podcast, LibSyn provides great and affordable options.

Sign up for LibSyn podcast hosting with promo code “noodle” and you’ll get your first month free for any plan!

Recommendation: Blubrry for control with WordPress

Blubrry media hosting Podcast media hosting explained and comparedWordPress is my top recommendation for owning and controlling your own platform. Blubrry‘s media hosting give you the power to manage everything about your podcast feed—media hosting, RSS feed, posts, and even ID3 tags—all within WordPress.

Blubrry offers my favorite stats, so you can see how many downloads each episode gets and how it is being downloaded.

Sign up for Blubrry podcast hosting with promo code “noodle” and you’ll get your first month free for any plan!

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  • http://countjoyshow.com/ Tom L.

    Great info! I’ll be getting started with LibSyn soon, and will be sure to do it through your affiliate link. Thanks for this!

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      You’re very welcome! I don’t have an affiliate link, but my promo code “noodle” is my affiliate tracker, and it gives you free stuff. Win-win-win!

  • Kathleen Kelly

    I just received the email from Libsyn about the change to Libsyn4 — perfect timing! Thanks!

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Ha ha! I didn’t know that was going out on that day.

  • Joshua Liston

    Awesome comparison DJL. I use both Libsyn 400 and Soundcloud Pro …and I agree Libsyn overall is the better host. I have to say though – SC is a much better option than I expected – I’ve found the downloads are always fast, and the Social aspects (follows, comments, players, embeds) make it pretty sweet.

    Note: I pipe the direct download links from the SC RSS through PowerPress – so I’m using them as a pure media host.

    These comparison posts are pure-gold DJL. :)

    Have you heard of ARI HERSTAND? He is a musician/marketer that does incredible comparison posts that take him around 50hrs.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Thanks, Joshua! Yes, SoundCloud has some great social aspects and I’m glad that you’re using them properly. I wish these other “social networks” allowed me to pay a smaller fee to participate but use my own media host.

      I have heard of Herstand. The funny thing about this post was that it started out as being all about LibSyn‘s upcoming change. Then I started thinking of how to explain the old way, then I thought people should understand how a couple other hosts do it, then I increased the list of competitors, then I realized that I needed to explain other storage models, and then an HTML table happened.

      • Joshua Liston

        Well I think it’s awesome man! Sometimes the most Epic stuff comes from just riffing and not having a plan :)

        I’ll be spreading this post around for sure mate!

        Keep the Epic coming DJL.

        • Addy

          Joshua, when using SC, do you see stats, like something similar to what Libsyn has? (world view of downloads, episode downloads, devices used, etc..) ? I’m currently looking at SC but there is no info on their website about this. With my current podcast I use Libsyn but if SC offered great stats, then it looks like I’ll be using SC for another podcast I’m about to launch.

          Daniel, great round-up on all the hosting options. :) I recently saw a podcaster using Archive.org for their media hosting because they claim its free and unlimited. Any idea on how that works?

          • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

            Archive.org! I completely forgot to mention them. I’ll need to do some research and update this accordingly.

            SoundCloud‘s stats are extremely basic—basic just downloads and plays in a single number. If you wanted advanced stats, you’d need to add Blubrry‘s free or premium stats in your media links from your site to your hosting.

  • Josh Wren

    What do you think of Castmate.fm for podcast hosting?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      It looks interesting, but it’s far from being a major player in the space. It doesn’t answer many questions I have about the service.

  • Sian

    Hi Daniel
    Just starting out on all this. if I have bluehost with a wordpress site with powerpress do I still need somwething like Libsyn or do i already have all I need?
    Thanks for explaining the storage variations

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      I do still recommend LibSyn to host your media, while your website is on BlueHost. Many shared web hosts aren’t setup to handle the server load of hosting podcast files and their high demand for large files.

  • dayosamuel12

    I’m just about to start my podcast on my new wordpress blog, and i’m having challenges with understanding blubrry that came with the premium theme i use. How do i solve that? here’s my blog audacity2lead dot com