Should podcasters use an itpc or a phobos address?

There are two ways to get people to subscribe automatically to your podcast’s RSS feed in iTunes. One is the direct solution, the other consists in submitting your podcast to Apple’s service to get a special URL. If one has an exposure advantage, the other has a more philosophical appeal. Here’s why.

The phobos principle
We call it phobos because it’s part of the URL Apple gives you when you submit your podcast for a review (http://phobos.apple.com/some_special_link_to_your_itunes_show_page). The process is simple. You fill the form on Apple’s website to get your podcast listed in their directory. Apple gives you back a link you can add to your website to make people subscribe to your podcast in iTunes. When you click on it, it opens a webpage that gives a command to open your podcast page in iTunes. Then, the user can review the information and click on a button to subscribe.

The advantages are huge. You get listed in the iTunes directory, which is THE biggest podcast directory out there. If you’re starting up, it can help you get listeners ’till people can properly find you on Google. The downside is that, it still gives power to Apple. But if you want to have a successful podcast (and downloads), it’s a good starting point. Let’s face it: iTunes it the standard concerning podcasts and if you want to reach the masses on the internet, always go with the standard. Like if you publish video, you can do it on a minor platform but please, publish also on Youtube.

The itpc principle
It is even simpler than phobos but a bit trickier. You don’t have to submit anything to any service because it’s an URL you build on your own. You take the address of your feed and you replace the http by itpc. It’s as simple as that and gives an address like: itpc://name_of_your_show.com/?feed=rss2. Once again, you add it to your website to make people subscribe to your show in iTunes. With itpc, it opens iTunes, subscribe automatically and start the download of the latest episode.

The main advantage of this method is to have people to subscribe and download with only one click. It doesn’t open an iTunes page where people still have to click or something. It’s pretty straightforward and less complicated for those who aren’t used to podcasts. From a philosophical point of view, this makes you totally independant. You don’t cooperate with Apple and don’t know the existance of you show… but still get downloaded via their application.

The best of both worlds?
Another solution is to use both. You can submit your podcast to iTunes but don’t absolutely have to use the phobos address. You can simply build your own itpc and use it on your website. This way, people will find you in iTunes AND you’ll have the simple one-click subscription an itpc address has to offer.

Is it perfect? No! The itpc address just doesn’t work on an iPhone… but the phobos does. That’s where you have to make a choice: is that more important to you to have the less experienced people to subscribe to your show automatically on their computer, or focus on the tech-savvy people that might subscribe to your show on an iPhone? The choice of an iTunes-subscribe address is a matter of which crowd you’re looking for as an audience for your show.

No matter which one you choose, you should always submit your show to iTunes.

Photography by Maury McCown


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