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Libsyn Podcast Host: Review & Walkthrough

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Libsyn Podcast Host: Review & Walkthrough

Libsyn is a dedicated hosting, distribution, and monetization platform for podcasts. It supports video and audio podcasting, and offers some unique add-ons that help enhance both you and your audience’s experience. You’re able to really customize your listener-facing interfaces (such as your media player or your branded app), so you can make your Libsyn tools your own. That being said, with no creation functionality and a slightly different pricing structure, some podcasters may not think Libsyn is the podcast hosting platform for them. This thorough walkthrough and review takes a deep dive into Libsyn’s features and functionality, guiding you through the initial setup, distribution, and monetization, so you can really get a feel for what Libsyn is all about. 

TL:DR 

  • Libsyn is a podcast hosting, distribution, and monetization platform. 
  • Libsyn supports audio and video podcasting 
  • Libsyn has six pricing plans to suit every budget 
  • Libsyn offers unlimited storage (with a monthly upload limit)
  • You can monetize your podcast with advertisements or subscriptions 

How we’re reviewing Libsyn  

Before we take a look at the details, it’s important to understand how we’re reviewing Libsyn. Though every podcaster is different, and a lot of the time, choice of podcast hosting platform is personal, we’ve identified seven important factors we think influence everyone’s decision making: 

Pricing 

For most people, budget is a major consideration when it comes to choosing a hosting platform. Some podcasters would prefer not to spend a fortune on a hosting platform or just aren’t quite ready to invest financially. In that case, a podcast hosting platform that charges a premium for its services won’t be the right fit. Additionally, even podcasters with a bigger wallet will be seeking value for money, so we take a look at what features are available alongside the pricing plans on offer.  

Analytics 

We value hosting platforms that give podcasters in-depth insights into how their podcast is performing across a number of metrics. We also look at how digestible, accessible and actionable those analytics are. 

Media Player 

Though not all podcasters would consider an embeddable media player an absolute necessity, we believe the ability to share your content beyond mainstream listening platforms on your own site is important. Where podcast hosting platforms do offer a media player, we also look at how customizable and ‘brandable’ it is. 

File Hosting 

When it comes to quality, podcasters shouldn’t have to compromise. That’s why we place so much importance on the file formats that are compatible with a podcast hosting platform. Another key consideration here is whether the platform in question supports video podcasts

Distribution 

Distributing from your podcast hosting platform should be quick, easy, and stress-free. Ideally, your podcast hosting platform should automate the process and ensure that your content reaches all mainstream listening platforms without too much input from you. 

Monetization 

It’s important that your chosen podcast hosting platform caters to a diverse range of revenue streams, allowing you to diversify your monetization strategy. We look for streamlined revenue management features that allow for multiple income streams that allow you to harness your content’s potential. 

Useability and Additional Features 

Lastly, but certainly not least, we look at how usable a platform is. At the very minimum, the basic interface should be simple and straightforward. But we also look for any additional features that enhance and proactively improve the user-experience, making the platform particularly easy to use. 

Libsyn: Quick Takeaways 

Quick summary: 

Libsyn is a dedicated hosting, distribution and monetization platform for podcasts. It does not have any creation or recording capacities, so it only deals with recorded and produced podcasts that are ready to be published. 

Libsyn Pricing: 6 pricing plans starting from $5 (more on this later) 

Libsyn’s USPs:

  • Custom iOS and Android App for your podcast. 
  • Multiple monetization streams. 
  • Video and audio podcasts. 
  • Unlimited overall storage
  • Canva integration for podcast cover art design 

What is Libsyn? 

Libsyn was founded in 2004 by Dave Manuseto and Dave Cheken and has since grown into a worldwide podcasting platform. Libsyn stands for ‘Liberated Syndication’. Libsyn now hosts over 75,000 podcasts globally and is continuing to grow its offering. In 2021, Libsyn acquired the Auxbus podcast creation platform as well as AdvertiseCast, and launched its most advanced podcast hosting platform, Libsyn5. 

How much does Libsyn cost? 

Libsyn has six pricing tiers with varying levels of storage and different features. There are also standalone features that you can pay to add onto certain subscription plans. 

$5/month

  • 162 MB storage per month
  • Unlimited audience
  • Apple Podcasts compliant RSS
  • Podcast page mini site
  • Libsyn directory listing
  • Custom media player 
  • Podcast source app listing
  • Double opt-in advertising 
  • +$2/month for basic stats 
  • + $2/month to use your own domain 

$15/month 

  • 324 MB storage per month 
  • Unlimited audience
  • Apple Podcasts compliant RSS
  • Podcast page mini site
  • Libsyn directory listing
  • Custom media player 
  • Podcast source app listing
  • Double opt-in advertising 
  • Libsyn Basic Stats 
  • + $2/month to use your own domain 

$20/month

  • 540 MB storage per month 
  • Unlimited audience
  • Apple Podcasts compliant RSS
  • Podcast page mini site
  • Libsyn directory listing
  • Custom media player 
  • Podcast source app listing
  • Double opt-in advertising 
  • Opt in my libsyn premium paywall 
  • Libsyn basic stats & advanced stats 
  • + $10/month for iOS and Android App 
  • + $10/month for an additional 200MB per month 
  • + $2/month to use your own domain 

$40/month

  • 800 MB storage per month 
  • Unlimited audience
  • Apple Podcasts compliant RSS
  • Podcast page mini site
  • Libsyn directory listing
  • Custom media player 
  • Podcast source app listing
  • Double opt-in advertising 
  • Libsyn basic stats & advanced stats 
  • Opt in my libsyn premium paywall 
  • + $10/month for iOS and Android App 
  • + $10/month for an additional 200MB per month 
  • + $2/month to use your own domain 

$74/month

  • 1500 MB storage per month plus same as advanced plan 

$150/month

  • 3000 MB storage per month plus same as advanced plan 

Note that where you opt in to the additional app plans, you’re also required to purchase developer accounts and will have additional monthly fees.

How does Libsyn storage work? 

When you first look at Libsyn’s pricing plans, you may be put off by the ‘storage per month’ limit. However, Libsyn’s monthly storage works a little differently from other podcast hosting platforms. Rather than being your overall limit on storage, the monthly storage MB is a monthly quota for how much new content you can upload. There is no upper cap on how much you store on Libsyn at any one time, regardless of your account level. Your ‘monthly storage’ or ‘upload quota’ renews on the 1st of every month. 

Advantages of Libsyn 

Customizable Media Player 

Libsyn comes with a custom HTML5 media player at all price points. It’s mobile friendly and you can customize it to really make it your own. You’re able to change the color, the thumbnail, and its dimensions. You can also choose whether it plays an episode playlist or a single episode, as well as the specific time code at which it starts playing. Lastly, you can decide your media player’s playback direction, choosing whether the oldest or newest episodes play first. 

Monetize your podcast in different ways 

Libsyn allows you to diversify your revenue streams through ads and podcast subscriptions or donations. You maintain full control over how you monetize your podcast, but can handle it all through the Libsyn platform. 

Unlimited storage

With Libsyn there is no overall storage limit. However, there is a subscription plan specific limit on your monthly upload quota. 

Video and audio podcasting 

Libsyn supports both audio and video podcasting which is a major advantage. Even for podcasters who haven’t yet ventured into the world of video podcasting, the ability to do so without switching hosting platforms shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Good customer support 

Libsyn claims to have the best up-time in the industry and a team of experienced podcasters on hand to help with any issues you encounter. Industry best up-time and team of experience podcasters ready to help 

Brand all your audience facing interfaces 

Libsyn allows you to brand and personalize your media player, podcast mini-site and smartphone app to maximize brand cohesion and strengthen your podcast’s image. 

Compatible file formats 

M4a (lossless) files are supported by Libsyn. However, they recommend using MP3 for maximized compatibility. 

Disadvantages of Libsyn 

No recording capabilities 

For podcasters looking for an ‘all-in-one’ solution, Libsyn doesn’t offer any creation or editing functionality, meaning you’ll have to use separate recording and editing software. 

Outdated interface

Though not necessarily a primary concern for all podcasters, the Libsyn interface is relatively outdated, especially when compared to some other alternative platforms. However, this does not undermine its functionality or useability. 

No free plan 

Though Libsyn’s basic subscription at $5/month doesn’t break the bank, with other competitor platforms offering their services for free, podcasters on a budget might want to look elsewhere. 

Have to pay per podcast 

Libsyn does not allow you to have multiple podcasts under one subscription payment. Although you can add as many podcasts as you want to your account, you need to pay separately for each one. 

Monthly quotas

Though Libsyn claims to give podcasters unlimited storage, this is only true to an extent. Though your lifetime allowance is unlimited, your monthly uploads are capped at the maximum quota for your subscription plan. This could pose problems for podcasters looking to upload several episodes a month but who don’t necessarily want to upgrade their subscriptions. 

No mobile app 

Libsyn does not currently have a mobile application. This means that you’re unable to publish on the go or monitor your podcast’s performance from your mobile device. 

Key features of Libsyn 

Now that we’ve outlined Libsyn’s major pros and cons, let’s take a closer look at some of its defining features: 

Streamlined Distribution 

Libsyn’s ONPUBLISH offers integrated publishing to over twenty popular podcast listening platforms, services and apps. Libsyn streamlines podcast distribution whilst still understanding that not all creators want to publish in the same way or to the same places. 

With ONPUBLISH, you still maintain ultimate control over how your podcast is distributed and published. You’re able to remove or add new content quickly, customize delivery destinations, get platform specific insights, and get key oversight over the entire process. 

Diversified Monetization 

Libsyn allows you to monetize your podcasts in two ways: podcast subscriptions and podcast advertisements. 

Libsyn podcast subscriptions with GLOW 

Through GLOW and MyLibSyn, you’re able to easily build subscription membership programs for your loyal subscribers. You can choose to offer ad-free content, early access, access to your backlog, a members only newsletter, access to private communities, exclusive videos and courses, merchandise or even group coaching calls - it’s really up to you. 

With GLOW, your paying subscribers can access their exclusive content through their preferred listening platform. There’s no need for them to download a specific application or login to a particular platform (although you can also create a branded premium page). 

To begin offering premium content, you need to be on a Libsyn Advanced hosting plan of $20/month or higher with a pre-existing engaged audience that tunes into your content from a variety of platforms. You also need to be consistently producing content with a demonstrable backlog, evergreen content, and the intention to continue podcasting for the foreseeable future. 

Libsyn takes between 20 and 30% of the subscription revenue depending on your total number of active paid subscribers. 

If you’re not quite ready to launch a fully-fledged membership scheme, you can still accept donations from your listeners. 

Podcast Advertisements 

There are two types of advertisement: Live Read Advertisements and Stitched Advertisements

Libsyn’s Advertise Cast Marketplace makes it easy to connect with advertisers to monetize your podcast and fill your ad slots. Libsyn’s ad programs are opt-in and you always have the final say about which ads and brands you work with. This means you have the freedom to choose brands that align with your brand and target audience. 

Note that to join Libsyn’s advertising ‘Partner Program’, you’ll need a minimum of 200 downloads per episode. However, once you’ve fulfilled this criteria, it’s completely free to list your podcast. You’re free to price your ad slots as you like, although Libsyn gives you recommendations based on industry standards. Libsyn takes a 30% cut of your ad revenue. 

You can choose between host-read ads and programmatic ads, as well as how long your slots are (30 or 60 seconds), and where they fall in your audio. 

If you want Libsyn to source and insert ads for you, then you’ll need to be seeing at least 5000 US downloads within 30 days of release of your content, and be happy with a 50% cut from your payouts. Don’t worry though, you still maintain control over which ads Libsyn stitches into your content. 

With Libsyn’s custom ad slots, intelligent ad stitching tools insert ads that specifically target different geographic regions, automatically removing them as soon as the ad campaign comes to an end. 

Headliner app integration 

Libsyn has integrated with the Headliner app to help podcasters create short and quick social videos that can be used to promote their content. You can customize your video to make it your own and optimize it for different social platforms depending on your needs. 

Custom iOS and Android App 

Depending on your Libsyn plan, you can choose to offer a branded custom app for your podcast. You can offer both iOS and Android or just one. Having your very own app can help you to cultivate a real sense of community whilst also fortifying your brand image. 

Note, there are certain requirements to qualify for this feature. You’ll need at least 10 published and publicly available episodes that include no copyrighted content, graphics or branding. You’ll also need to be a Libsyn advanced 400 plan(or higher). You also need to supply all the graphics for your app yourself. 

There are also additional fees associated with creating an app for the App Store and Google Play store. 

Libsyn is Best for Established Podcasters 

Libsyn is a dedicated hosting, distribution and monetization platform. Though that sounds pretty comprehensive, a lot of competitor platforms offer a broader package that includes the creation process too. Podcasters who are just starting out on their journey will probably find that a Libsyn alternative such as Anchor will guide them more comprehensively from A to Z. 

That being said, Libsyn is a great option for established podcasters who have an established creation and production process and are simply seeking a hosting and monetization solution. On the other hand, professional podcasters seeking a powerful platform that will help drive their podcasts forward may have better luck with other platforms that also offer live streaming and remote recording capabilities, for example. 

First look at Libsyn’s Desktop Dashboard 

When you create an account and a show, you’ll arrive at your libsyn dashboard. Along the top menu, you’re able to navigate to your home dashboard, content, destinations, monetization, stats, storage, settings and help tabs. 

Libsyn dashboard

How to get started with Libsyn 

Creating a show on Libsyn

Step 1: Before you can do anything with Libsyn, you need to create a show. 

Step 2: Once you’ve done that, you’ll arrive in your dashboard. To create your first episode, hover your mouse over ‘Content’ and click ‘Add New Episode’.

Adding a new episode on Libsyn

Step 3: Upload your pre-recorded content from your computer by clicking ‘Add media file’

Adding a media file on Libsyn

Step 4: Then click to the 2nd tab ‘Details’ and fill out the title of the episode, the subtitle and the description. Choose its category and enter any tags or keywords. 

Step 5: If you’re uploading to Apple Podcasts, there’s a specific section to optimize your episode for it.

Filling in a podcast episode's detail on Libsyn

Step 6:. On the 3rd Tab, upload your episode artwork and on the 4th choose when you want it to be published.

Adding podcast artwork on Libsyn

Step 7:. On the last tab add any extra tags, then either choose to save as draft or publish. 

Advanced podcast episode settings on Libsyn

Monetization with Libsyn 

From your dashboard, click ‘monetizing’ on the top bar. As we mentioned, there are two monetization avenues with Libsyn: Advertising and Subscriptions. 

You can opt into the advertising program as long as you have 20,000 US downloads a month. And if you want to offer subscriptions, you need to be on the Libsyn 400mb monthly plan or higher to request activation. 

Monetizing your podcast on Libsyn

How to migrate your podcast to Libsyn

Depending on which platform you’re currently with, the migration process might vary a little. Libsyn has a whole library with tutorials for migrating your podcast from the major platforms. 

The migration process is a little more manual (or hands off, depending on how you look at it) than you may be used to. You’ll need to email the Libsyn support team with your show slug (or the email you used to sign up), as well as your current RSS feed URL. The team will then handle the transfer over to Libsyn. 

Distributing your podcast with Libsyn

You need to submit your show manually to each listening platform first. When you’ve done that, every time you hit publish in LibSyn, your podcast will be automatically distributed to each platform. 

Different platforms have slightly different submissions requirements and processes. You should account for slight delays between submission and your show appearing too. You can follow Libsyn’s specific guides for submitting your podcast to the major podcast directories. 

What Libsyn analytics look like 

As we’ve seen, the level of analytics you’re able to access depends on your subscription. If you are on an advanced level plan, then you’ll have access to the following insights: 

  • User Agent Stats - which platform is delivering the most downloads
  • Geographic Heat Map 
  • Destination Stats
  • Social Media Stats
  • Day, Week and Month Stats
  • Episode stast and breakdowns 
  • Social media stats 
  • IAB (interactive Advertising Bureau) standards – insights - advertising industry trusted reporting (available with advanced plans only at this time) 

You can access your analytics by clicking ‘statistics’ in the top bar menu of your dashboard. You’ll be taken to what looks like a separate interface completely, where, depending on your subscription, you’ll be able to see your stats. 

Libsyn alternatives 

Libsyn vs Soundcloud 

Soundcloud is aimed at a whole range of audio-creators, whereas Libsyn is made especially for podcasters. Though you may not think this will make a huge difference, it’s palpable in some of the functionality and the way the interface is set up. If you’re a beginner, or aren’t too invested in your podcast, then Soundcloud is a good platform to start out with. 

However, if you’re a professional, you’re more likely to be satisfied with what Libsyn has to offer. 

Libsyn vs Anchor 

The most obvious difference between Libsyn and Anchor is in price. Whereas Anchor offers all of its features for free, you have to pay to access Libsyn’s platform. 

In addition, whilst Libysn offers solely hosting and distribution functionality, Anchor caters to podcast recording all the way to publication. 

However, perhaps the starkest contrast is in the interface design. Whereas Libsyn feels dated and clunky, Anchor is at the forefront of UX/UI intuitive design. If you’re a podcaster who is looking for sleek and streamlined platform, you’re probably better off using Anchor. 

Libsyn vs Buzzsprout 

Libsyn and Buzzsprout are extremely similar. However, Buzzsprout is arguably more user and beginner-friendly, with an easy-to-use interface and simple features. 

If you’re a more advanced podcaster, however, you may feel frustrated by Buzzsprout’s upload limits (even at the highest level subscription). 

Libsyn vs Podbean  

Podbean and Libsyn are, on balance, evenly matched. Their features and functionality are very similar, as is their pricing. However, as with Anchor, whilst Libsyn is a dedicated hosting and distribution platform, Podbean offers creation abilities too. 

Additionally, Podbean’s interface is arguably more navigable and less outdated. You’re also able to livestream using Podbean. 

Final thoughts on Libsyn 

Libsyn is an effective hosting, distribution and monetization tool. Objectively speaking, it is a great podcast hosting platform. More discerning podcasters who seek a streamlined and sleek interface may be dissatisfied with what is arguably quite an outdated interface. In addition, if you’re a beginner looking for a podcast hosting platform that allows you to do everything in one place, Libsyn is not what you’re looking for. 

That being said, if you’ve got a fairly established podcasting setup already and are seeking pure functionality, Libsyn will definitely do the trick. 

FAQs about Libsyn

What is Libsyn used for? 

Libsyn is a podcast hosting, distributing, and monetizing platform. It exists to streamline the podcast publication process to major listening platforms, whilst also building out your revenue streams. 

Is Libsyn better than Buzzsprout? 

It depends on what you’re looking for in your podcast hosting platform. 

Is Libsyn a good podcast host? 

It depends what you’re looking for. For podcasters looking for a simple and straightforward hosting solution that offers monetization too, Libsyn is a great choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a platform that has podcast creation features too, you’re better off looking elsewhere. 

How do I use Libsyn for podcasting? 

As we’ve seen, you can’t use Libsyn to actually record your podcast. You’ll need to do so using a separate creation software or platform, edit it, then upload it to Libsyn for publication. 

Does Libsyn upload to Spotify? 

Yes you can publish to Spotify and all other major listening platforms using Libsyn.

Want to read more on podcast hosting platforms? Check out our other reviews:

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