Libsyn is one of the biggest, oldest, and most famous podcast hosting platforms in the world. They're the place industry heavyweights like Marc Maron and Adam Carolla – along with 50,000 other podcasters – choose to host their show. Should you join them? Read on and find out…
Get a month’s free hosting with Libsyn when you sign up using the coupon code podhost.
Why Do I Need a Media Host to Podcast?
Media hosts are services that specialise in hosting and delivering media such as audio files.
When you sign up with a media host, you create your podcast by filling out its title and description, uploading your cover art, and eventually, your very first episode.
It's the one-stop-shop directories like iTunes and Spotify will pull all the data from in order to list your podcast on their platform.
For a more detailed look at the role of a media hosting service, check out where does a podcast live?
How Much Does a Libsyn Account Cost?
Price is one of the first questions people tend to ask about when it comes to hosting. There are many new services on the market that will host your podcast completely free of charge. It's worth noting that you can't podcast for free on Libsyn. So why would you even consider using them?
The most compelling argument is that they've been in business since 2004, whilst at least 3 free services have launched and went bust since I started writing this review. Charging for your service is a decent model for staying in business – and if your media host dies, your podcast can die with them.
With that said, the lack of a free introductory tier like you'd get at Buzzsprout or Podbean may be enough to put some folks off. You can sign up for as little as $5 a month though, ($7, if you add stats access) and there's tiers from $15 up to $75 to cater for anyone from the bedroom hobbyist to the business owner.
For the majority of folks, the $5 ($7 with stats), $15, or $20 a month tiers will be the ones to consider.
The main difference between the tiers is storage . . .
How Much Storage Will I Need?
The more you pay, the more storage you have on a monthly basis. This has nothing to do with the amount of downloads you get (which are unlimited), and is all about the amount of content you can upload in a set month. Your storage allowance renews at the start of each month too, so you'll never be punished for having a huge back catalogue of episodes.
- If you pay $5 a month, you get 50mb
- If you pay $15 a month, you get 250mb
- If you pay $20 a month, you get 400mb
How does storage allowance relate to actual podcast episodes though? That really depends on three things – the number of episodes you publish in a month, the length of those episodes, and the bitrate you encode the episodes at.
We have an article dedicated to the topic of podcast bitrates, so we won't dive into that here. Let's just say we're going for 96kbps mono, which is a good balance between file size and sound quality for spoken word content. One hour of audio would be around 41mb, so you could run a weekly podcast of 15-20min episodes on the $5 tier.
What Makes Libsyn Stand Out?
Libsyn pride themselves on empowering you to be found anywhere that podcasts are consumed, and have tools that allow you to tweak and tailor this.
With Libsyn's Destinations you can publish to any day/time in the future to the minute to each directory, independently of each other.
So you could release your episode a day early on one platform – for example, Spotify – before it becomes available everywhere else. You can even create a completely different show title on Spotify too, without altering how it looks in places like Apple Podcasts.
Libsyn were the launch partner for Spotify's podcasting endeavors and are now working with Pandora in a similar vein. Podcasting on Pandora is still in Beta, and content in there is hand selected, but Libsyn customers can get in touch to put their own show's forward for consideration.
Some other places you can publish to easily through Libsyn are iHeartRadio (after your show is 2 months old), Youtube (where it converts audio files to video automatically), Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Radio Public.
Your Own Podcast App
With the $20 tier or higher you can actually have a dedicated iOS/Android app your your show developed by Libsyn.
App downloads are in the hundreds of billions per year, so there are definitely worse places for your content to be discovered.
To set the ball in motion, there's a one-off $50 set-up fee, then an ongoing $10 adder on top of your monthly subscription.
Again, you'll be able to use the destination tools to adjust the release day/time of new episodes for your app. You can release early, or even exclusive content on there in order to encourage listeners to download it.
What You Upload Is What They Download
Libsyn don't alter your files in any way, so if it's a 256kbps stereo file you upload, that's what your listener will get at the other end.
You do have the option of using Libsyn to embed metadata into your file though. This is basically show details and artwork that'll be viewable on the mp3 when downloaded directly onto a computer.
Metadata isn't as important as it once was because most listening takes place in apps where users never actually see the file. But it's still good practice to add it to your episodes, and this is an easy way to add it into your publishing workflow.
Website Integration & Podcast Player
When you create an account with Libsyn you'll get a default webpage for your show. The URL will look like podcastname.libsyn.com – but you can set it up with your own domain name if you like.
If you have your own website already, you can choose to ignore or delete this webpage. On the other hand, you can customise it and make it look really good. For good examples of Libsyn webpages see The Story Behind, The Feed, and Podcast411.
If you're running your own website on WordPress then you can set it up so you can publish new episodes there from directly inside Libsyn. Another option is to download the Libsyn WordPress plugin which means you can publish episodes from your own site. One gripe I have with this plugin is that there's no way to position the player inside the episode post – it'll always just be right at the top. A third way is to publish inside Libsyn, then copy the episode embed code over to an episode post on your site.
Libsyn has a decent looking player which will display your cover art, and has subscribe buttons on it linking to the different directories you're listed in.
Can I Host Multiple Shows on Libsyn?
You need a separate account for each individual show, but you can manage these all from inside your account, so you don't need to constantly log in/log out. It's just a case of switching tabs from one show to the next.
Libsyn does also offer a service called LibsynPro which caters to podcast networks. LibsynPro is for enterprise customers, celebrities, government agencies, professional media companies and those looking to do lots of video podcasting. Pricing is based on how many different shows (RSS feeds) you manage and how much download bandwidth you get. This service offers unlimited monthly uploads, and does allow you to have multiple shows on one account.
What About Sponsorship or Advertising?
Libsyn can hook you up with advertisers if your show is hitting around 5000 US downloads per episode within a month of its release. These are big numbers though, and not a lot of shows will ever reach that level.
They also offer the capability to offer dynamic ad insertion. This feature comes at an extra cost, but enables you to cut out old ‘baked in' ads and replace them with dynamic ones that can be rotated or replaced over time.
For most podcasters though, the best way to do sponsorship is to approach companies directly. A good way to do this is to use our Should I Sponsor a Podcast? guide when speaking to potential advertisers.
Summary: Should I Host With Libsyn?
Libsyn are a safe pair of hands, and definitely one of the best media hosting options out there. I also like the fact that they are very involved and hands-on in the medium. Their official podcast The Feed is essential for keeping up with industry news, updates, and general best practices.
A few small downsides – their website looks quite dated and clunky. Any clients we work with who opt to host with Libsyn always comment on this the first time they see it. It doesn't look very beginner-friendly at all. In their defence, there's a lot in there because show customisation is one of their USPs, but I'm hopeful that one day they'll look to drastically improve the site's aesthetic.
If you want advanced stats for your show then you'll need to pay a minimum of $20 a month on Libsyn, and this might be a wee bit high for some.
Lack of a free introductory tier might put some off too. For those not fully committed to podcasting and just looking to test the water, I'd recommend going with Buzzsprout or Podbean, where you'll have the option to upgrade if you decide to stick with it.
Whether or not any of these are deal breakers will depend entirely on you, your aims, and your budget. They remain one of the best options out there, and there's every chance the features I've talked about in this review have appealed to you.
Other fine media hosting services are available if you'd still like to shop about. But if you're sold on Libsyn and ready to get started, you can get a month free there by using the coupon code podhost.
Need More Help With Your Podcast?
Choosing where to host your show is an integral part of getting started. But there loads of other areas that are equally, if not more important.
So whether you need help with your show’s strategy and content, or with presenting, recording, or editing, we have courses on them all inside The Podcast Host Academy.
In there, you’ll also have access to our regular live Q&A sessions too, so you’ll never be stuck on any aspect of podcasting again!