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The Official Podcast Hosting Playbook

Last updated on

November 2, 2023

The Official Podcast Hosting Playbook

Discover what podcast hosting is, how it works, popular platforms, and how to take advantage of the tool.

Alison Osborne


 min read


There are currently over 5 million existing podcasts with 70 million episodes between them, and the growth of this industry is not projected to slow down anytime soon. 

In the past few years, we’ve watched innovative companies bring new ideas and technology into the audio industry, all to improve the podcast experience for both creators and listeners alike. 

We wanted to dive into one specific technological segment of podcasting that has become so crucial when creating a show - and that’s podcast hosting

What is a podcast hosting platform? 

First things first – what is a podcast hosting platform?

A podcast hosting platform is a software that allows you to “host” your entire podcast on it. You can upload, store, and distribute the entirety of your podcast and each individual episode through these platforms. 

Hosting platforms provide you with an RSS feed that you submit to all major listening platforms (i.e. Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.). Once your show is live on these listening platforms, your podcast host can automatically distribute future episodes for you. 

So rather than uploading each individual episode to listening platforms on your own, you only have to upload your episodes to your hosting platform. 

Much easier. 

Podcast hosting platforms also have an endless list of additional features that help you distribute, manage, and grow your show. These are things like analytics, schedulers, web players, transcription software, website builders, and so much more. 

Who should use a podcast hosting platform? 

Who would benefit from using a podcast hosting platform? Anyone who has a podcast! 

But seriously, signing up with a podcast hosting platform is a necessity when you’re ready to share your show with the world. 

These platforms make the ease of launching and distributing your podcast much simpler and more efficient. However, while every podcaster out there should be using a podcast hosting platform, they’re not all made the same. Different platforms will be better for different podcasts. 

At the end of the day, it all depends on the goal of your podcast and what you need the most assistance with. 

Maybe it’s production, organization, podcast marketing, or maybe you’re looking for something more budget-friendly

Where does your podcast get distributed?

Not all hosting platforms distribute to the same listening sites, but you can be confident that whichever platform you decide to move forward with, you’ll be able to submit your podcast to:

  • Apple Podcasts 
  • Spotify 
  • Amazon Music
  • Overcast 
  • Podcast Addict 
  • PlayerFM 

Note: With some of the platforms above, you will need to make an account with them. We discuss this further in the sections below. 

For some platforms like Soundcloud and YouTube, you will need to upload new episodes manually. 

Here’s why:


Soundcloud is its own entity, separate from any of the podcast hosting platforms. The platforms are not able to distribute your show on Soundcloud, but you’re more than welcome to do so yourself!

However, we will note that it can be quite time-consuming to continuously update your podcast through this app. If you start sharing your podcast on Soundcloud and realize that you don’t have many listeners coming through this channel, we recommend you consider dropping it.


YouTube is another platform where, as the owner of the podcast, you must distribute through this channel on your own. 

Since YouTube is a video-based platform rather than audio-based, you’ll need some sort of video element to go along with your episodes. This can be a video recording of the podcast or any sort of imagery to accompany your content. 

That being said, many podcasters have opted to leverage YouTube, which currently boasts 2 billion logged-in users and only continues to grow. 

2023 statistics reveal that 43% of monthly podcast listeners have enjoyed podcast content on YouTube within the past year. Additionally nearly a third (32%) of Americans prefer listening to podcasts with video — increasing to 46% among podcast listeners who listened to a podcast within the last month.

Responding to the surge of podcast listeners on the platform, YouTube states “We plan to make Podcasts on YouTube Music globally available before the end of [2023].”

Example: CIBC Innovation Economy on YouTube

How do podcast hosting platforms work? 

When you sign up for a hosting platform, the first thing that you will be asked to do is either create a new show or import an existing one. 

If you’re creating a show from scratch, you will simply add your information to the system. 

However, if you’re moving your show from one hosting platform to another, you will need to do what is commonly referred to as ‘migrating’ your show. Don’t worry, we’ll explain. 

Regardless of how you add your show, your hosting platform will generate a custom RSS feed. An RSS feed is a link that stores all of the information about your show including its name, artwork, new episodes, descriptions, tags, and more. Think of it as a unique URL or address for your specific podcast, no RSS feed can be the same as another. 

To publish your show on popular listening platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music, you provide them with your RSS feed so they can read the information and push your show out to their listener base. We’ll cover how to submit your RSS feed to the listening platforms in the sections below. 

How do I launch a new podcast with a podcast hosting platform?

First things first, you will need the following assets:

  1. A hosting platform account (for example CoHost)
  2. A Google account specific to the show you’re launching
  3. An Apple, Spotify, and Amazon account linked to the Google account mentioned above
  4. A compelling show description (not more than 5 sentences) 
  5. A show title
  6. Your show cover art (3000 x 3000 px) 
  7. A trailer episode (no longer than 5 minutes)
  8. Your trailer title and description

Step one: set up distribution networks

  1. Create a new Google account specific to the podcast. i.e.: For the phone number, choose your number or that of someone on your team as it will make it much easier to access the two-factor authentication later on
  2. Create an Apple ID with your new GMail address. Choose the same phone number that you linked to the Google account so it’s easy to remember 
  3. Create a Spotify account with your new GMail address 
  4. Create a new Amazon account with your new GMail address
  5. Sign up for the hosting account of your choice with your new GMail address. Upon signing up, click “Create New Show” and walk through the steps provided, inputting the assets mentioned above

Step two: publish your trailer or your first episode

When launching your show, it’s important to start by publishing a trailer. 

A trailer is a short (up to 5 minutes) preview of what listeners can expect on your show. It builds hype, but also serves an important purpose for your RSS feed submission to the listening platforms. 

When submitting your podcast to the listening platforms, it can take up to 72 hours for it to go live, which means that the first piece of content you publish will be delayed from the time you upload it to your hosting platform to when you see it on listening platforms. 

However, once your show is approved by the listening platforms, your episodes will go out as scheduled.

By submitting a trailer first, you can create a soft launch before your first episode goes live. That means better planning for your promotions and oftentimes, a larger initial audience.

Step three: submit your show

Here’s a guide for how to submit your show to the most popular podcast platforms.

Major platforms

Podcast Addict
  • Go to this site
  • Paste your RSS-feed you copied into the bar.
  • Click on 'Submit podcast'
Apple Podcasts
  • Make sure you have your show’s Apple ID handy. 
  • Go to Podcasts Connect
  • Enter your Apple ID and Password (make sure that your Apple ID is activated on iTunes). Learn how to activate your Apple ID if you’re unsure of how to. 
  • Navigate to the far right and click “Podcasts”
  • Copy your RSS feed
  • Paste your RSS feed into the box and click “submit” to the right
  • You will receive a confirmation email from Apple that your podcast has been submitted
  • Make sure you have your Spotify login handy. 
  • Go to Spotify For Podcasters and click “Get Started”
  • Enter your account username and password 
  • Follow the instructions.
  • Head over to Amazon Podcasters 
  • Go to “Add or Claim Your Podcast”
  • Sign into your Amazon Account. 
  • Walk through the steps prompted 

Additional platforms

  • Head to Pandora AMP Playbook
  • Click “Get Started”
  • Sign into your Pandora account. If you do not have one, click “Register for Free”
  • Once you are signed in, walk through the steps prompted
Audacy (Previously
  • Head over to this link
  • Fill out the form provided
  • Head over to Deezer Podcasters
  • Click “Publish My Podcast”
  • Walk through the prompts provided
  • If you submit your show on Apple, once approved, it will show up on Overcast automatically
Pocket Casts
  • Head over to this link
  • Copy and paste your RSS feed 
  • Click “Public” 
  • Press “Submit”


  • Head over to PlayerFM
  • Sign up for PlayerFM with your show’s email 
  • Once signed up, go to this link
  • Follow the instructions provided
  • Head over to this link
  • Fill out the form
  • Head over to JioSaavn
  • Click “Get Started”
  • Follow the instructions provided 

Step four: Approval

Once your podcast is submitted to the listening platforms above, wait a couple of days and then start checking the platforms for your show. After it goes live, you can start scheduling your next episodes.

How to migrate an existing podcast to a new hosting platform 

If you have an existing show and you would like to switch hosting platforms, the process is a bit more complicated than you might think. 

Unfortunately, due to the nature of RSS feeds, you can’t just cancel one account and create another somewhere else. You will need to initiate what is commonly known in the industry as a ‘migration.’

So what is a podcast migration?

A podcast migration is when you set up a 301 redirect from your old RSS feed to your new RSS feed. 

Whenever you switch to another hosting platform, a new RSS feed will be generated for your show, so this process ensures that any platform with the old feed submitted will automatically redirect to the new one. That way, the listening platforms know when you publish new episodes. 

All platforms will have instructions on how to set up a redirect to or from their platform in their support directory. If not, simply contact their support and they will conduct it for you. 

Although seemingly simple, 301 redirects can be a bit tricky. For best results, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Consider switching hosting platforms during a season break and creating a trailer for your next season. That way, when you migrate, in case anything goes wrong, you can use your trailer as a testing ground.

  2. After initiating your 301 redirect, wait 72 hours and then log in to each of the listening platforms with your podcast account to check to see if your RSS feed is updated. Most listening platforms will update the RSS feed automatically once the redirect is initiated. However, occasionally, you will need to manually switch it. Below, we have laid out the details on how to do so for Apple Podcasts and Spotify. 

Fortunately, if you’re switching to hosting platforms like CoHost, our team will handle the migration process for you. 

How to manually switch your RSS feed:


  • Go to Spotify For Podcasters
  • Click “Details”
  • Click “Update”
  • Add CoHost RSS feed and update the RSS Feed provider as CoHost

Apple Podcasts

Apple Podcasts typically takes 24-48 hours to refresh. 

  • Go to Apple Podcasts Connect
  • Click “My Podcasts”
  • Add your new RSS feed
  • Click “Refresh Feed”
  • Click “Submit”

Measuring your podcast through your hosting platform 

As you're launching and growing a podcast, understanding your analytics and how to measure the success of your show is key. 

Although each listening platform will give you unique audience information, your hosting platform combines all of your podcast analytics and gives you key metrics to pay attention to. 

Some of the podcast metrics that you should be aware of that you’ll find on the majority of hosting platforms are: 


Downloads are your most basic and well-known metric. To many, downloads equate to success but that’s not always the case. With that being said, your downloads are still an important metric to be tracking. 

A podcast hosting platform will combine all of the downloads your show/specific episode has had across all listening platforms that it is available on. Your downloads signal how many times your podcast/episode has been listened to. 

You can use the downloads metric to compare and contrast episodes, having some insight into what episodes perform better than others. This can be incredibly useful if you’re testing out new formats, segments, styles, and guests. 

Your number of downloads is also a key metric that potential sponsors will be looking at, they want to know how many listeners their ad will be reaching. 

Unique listeners

Understanding the difference between downloads and unique listeners is pretty simple when it’s broken down for you. 

A download is how many times your episode was played. It doesn’t matter who downloaded it, it just matters that they did. I could download your episode 5 times and that would count as 5 downloads. 

A unique listener is how many downloads you have by only counting one download per listener. I could download your episode 5 times and it would only count as one listen. Your unique listeners are a more accurate measurement of how large your audience is.

 It’s normal to have a disparity between your downloads and unique downloads, but if the difference is astronomical, maybe that’s something you need to look into. 

Audience Demographics

Found in most listening apps or hosting platforms, basic demographics include the gender, age, location, and popular listening time of your audience. 

For example, if you’ve had ads running in the UK and 70% of your listeners are located in the UK, you can assume that your ads are working. This kind of information also lets you plan for future marketing campaigns. If the majority of your listeners are in the UK and only 5% are in Canada, maybe you would exclude Canada from your marketing initiatives since you don’t have a large audience there. 

CoHost Pro Tip: With Advanced Audience Demographics, understanding your audience has never been easier. You can now discover valuable, critical insights about your listeners, including their age, gender, household income, social media consumption/habits, interests, family members, and more. 

Advanced Audience Demographics is designed to help brand marketers, agencies, and pro podcasters:

  • Verify if podcasts are reaching their desired target audience
  • Tailor their content to audience preferences for improved engagement
  • Enhance sponsorship sales with comprehensive listener profiles 

B2B Analytics: Companies & Industries 

CoHost’s B2B Analytics plays a crucial role in understanding your podcast’s impact on companies and industries by providing a detailed breakdown of the companies engaging with your content including company size, industry, and revenue, so you can tailor your podcast's messaging and target specific audiences. 

CoHost's B2B Analytics allows you to:

  1. Segment your audience: By providing detailed information on the companies listening to your podcast, B2B Analytics enables you to segment your audience by industry, size, and revenue. This helps prioritize potential partners and tailor your content to better serve their needs.
  2. Tailor your content: Armed with insights about your audience, create more targeted podcast episodes that address specific industry pain points or trends. This will establish your podcast as a valuable resource and thought leader, making it more attractive to potential partners who might be interested in collaboration.
  3. Monitor engagement: B2B Analytics provides real-time data on which companies are engaging with your podcast, allowing you to track your outreach efforts and optimize your engagement strategies for better results.

Listening app breakdown

The last key metric that we’ll touch on is your listening apps. Your podcast hosting site will give you a breakdown of the listening apps that your audience exists on.

For example, what percentage of listeners are tuning in from Apple Podcasts vs. Spotify? It’s important to know what your listeners' preferred platforms are. This can influence things like what podcast links you share across your networks, where you run ads, and what your CTA’s (call-to-action) are. 

If you have 90% of your listeners coming from Spotify, when you share the podcast on your social media accounts, it’s smart to share a Spotify link rather than an Apple Podcasts link. 

CoHost Pro Tip: Want to see which of your social media and guest promotions are bringing in the most downloads for your show? Tracking Links consolidate all of your listening app links into one page so you can distribute them on social media. From there, you can track how many clicks and downloads all of the links brought in for your show broken down by individual links or by platform. 

Looking to get a better grasp on podcast analytics definitions? Download our Ultimate Podcast Analytics Dictionary

Unique podcast hosting metrics 

Average Consumption Rate

Your average consumption rate tells you the percentage of your podcast episodes that listeners are consuming. So if your podcast episode is 40 minutes long and your average consumption rate is 50%, that means that listeners, on average, are only tuning in to 20 minutes of your episode. We suggest to aim for a 70% consumption rate.

Average Listening Time

Your average listening time is similar to your average consumption rate except it gives you the actual average time that your audience is tuning in for vs. a percentage. If your listeners are tuning in for an average of 20 minutes in a 40-minute-long episode, your average listening time would be 20 minutes. 

Top Podcast Hosting Platforms 

Below we break down some of the top podcast hosting platforms. If you’re a brand or agency looking for a more in-depth review of some of our favorite corporate options, check out our complete guide for companies.

1. CoHost 

Best for brands and podcast agencies

Created by award-winning podcast agency, Quill, CoHost was launched out of a need in the podcast industry - tools for branded podcast growth and measurement. 

CoHost offers a seamless podcast solution that provides agencies and brands with in-depth podcast analytics, audience insights, and hosting capabilities to succeed in audio.

Key Features:

  • Analytics Dashboard: Consumption rate, growth rates, top episode vs. latest episode insights.
  • Audience Profile: Listening app breakdown, download data by time of day, and downloads by location.
  • Advanced Audience Demographics: Listener age, gender, household income, habits, lifestyle, social media consumption, and family members. 
  • Downloads and Unique Listener Performance Metrics: Downloads over time, episode launch comparison, and episode breakdown data all with segmented downloads or unique listener dashboards.
  • Audio Insertion: Pre- and post-roll insertion, audio quality, dynamic editing, and streamlined file organization.
  • B2B Analytics: Company breakdown, listener engagement, individual episode breakdown, and exportable downloads list for lead generation.
  • Automatic Transcriptions: In-app AI-powered transcription tool for effortless editing, distribution, boosted SEO, and accessibility.
  • Podcast Hosting: Custom media player, multi-show management, collaborative team settings, and one-click publishing capabilities.
  • Tracking Links: Consolidate listening app links with the ability to track download sources, individual link analytics, and single tracking links.


Contact our team at CoHost for pricing.

2. Simplecast 

Best for brands and independent podcasters 

Simplecast is helping brands and podcasters distribute and analyze their content. As they state, they “exist for the podcaster, giving shows of all shapes and sizes access to the same tools powering shows from some of the world's biggest brands.”

3. Podbean 

Best for beginner podcasters

Podbean is a great hosting platform for any podcaster out there who’s just getting started in the world of audio. With an option for a free monthly subscription, you can get your feet wet without an upfront investment. 

4. Buzzsprout 

Best for beginner podcasters

Similar to Podbean, Buzzsprout is an incredibly valuable tool and resource for podcasters who are just getting started. They provide resources for hosts and teams that are maybe less experienced in audio such as editing and graphic design assistance. 

5. Blubrry

Best for independent podcasters

Blubrry is a hosting service that has been around since the beginning. The platform offers podcasting hosting, statistics, as well as a podcast website with their accounts. As they state, the company was founded to “empower people to express their knowledge and creativity through sound.” 

6. Captivate 

Best for beginner and independent podcasters

Founded by Mark Asquith, Captivate has created great tools and resources for individuals who are beginners in audio or are independent podcasters. As they say on their website, their goal is to give “you the freedom and flexibility to make podcasting yours.” 

7. Transistor

Best for beginner podcasters

Transistor has targeted itself toward the newbies in the podcasting world, recognizing that “podcasting is an incredible medium, but it can be confusing for newcomers.” They give podcasters the knowledge and tools needed to get their show started and shared with the world. 

8. Spreaker 

Best for independent podcasters

Owned by iHeart Media, Spreaker’s goal comes down to making sure that you and your podcast are heard. They state that “whether you’re producing your passion project or growing a podcast business it has never been easier.” They also have various support features to help podcasters who are either new to the space or less experienced. 

9. Anchor 

Best for beginner podcasters

Acquired by Spotify in 2019, Anchor is a completely free podcast hosting service. “We believe everyone’s stories can and should be heard, so we’re giving creators around the world—from first-time podcasters to pros—a powerful platform to share their voices.” Anchor is a great tool for any podcaster who either has a lower budget or is new to the space and wants to get started without an upfront investment. 

10. Castos 

Best for small businesses and independent podcasters

Castos emphasizes both public and private hosting. As they state on their website, “Our goal has always been to be an ally to podcast creators. We want to give podcasters a robust platform to publish their content without imposing pointless limitations.” 

Podcast hosting pricing

The prices of podcast hosting platforms vary quite drastically depending on the package and features that you’re looking for. 

Some platforms are best for podcasters who are launching their show for the first time or looking for a budget-friendly option. In this case - Buzzsprout or Podbean would be perfect. 

But if you’re a company that’s launching a podcast or a serious podcaster looking to grow, then CoHost, Simplecast, and Libsyn are options for you to look into. 

Packages range from $0 to the hundreds. Pricing is also set differently for different platforms, some base pricing on storage, hours of recording, number of episodes, number of listeners, or just the features that you’re looking for (i.e. growth or personalized account management). 


How do you choose a podcast host? 

So how do you choose the right podcast hosting platform for you? 

Ultimately, it depends on you as a podcaster and what’s important to you, whether it’s price, number of downloads, storage, hours, and also whether you’re a company or an independent podcaster. 

Here are some common things to consider when you’re finding the right hosting platform for you:


  • Look for a hosting site that offers pricing plans within your budget. Consider both monthly and annual payment options
  • Be wary of free hosting services, as they often come with limitations such as limited storage and bandwidth.

Storage and Bandwidth:

  • Ensure the hosting site provides enough storage space for your podcast episodes. Estimate how much storage you'll need based on your episode length and frequency.
  • Consider the bandwidth limits, especially if you expect a large audience. Bandwidth restrictions can impact the number of downloads your podcast can handle.


  • Check which podcast directories and platforms the hosting site supports. The more platforms, the wider your podcast's reach
  • Verify that the hosting service automatically submits your podcast to directories or provides clear instructions for doing so.


  • Look for hosting platforms that offer detailed analytics. This data helps you understand your audience, track episode performance, and make informed decisions about content and marketing.


  • If you plan to monetize your podcast through ads or listener support, find out if the hosting site offers built-in monetization features or integrates with monetization platforms.

Ease of Use:

  • Consider the user-friendliness of the hosting platform's interface. It should be easy to upload episodes, manage your podcast, and access analytics.
  • Look for features like episode scheduling, easy editing options, and customizable podcast pages.

Customer Support:

  • Reliable customer support can be crucial, especially if you encounter technical issues or have questions about using the platform.
  • Read reviews and testimonials to gauge the hosting site's customer service quality.

Podcast Website:

  • Some hosting platforms offer customizable podcast websites or integrate with website builders. A dedicated podcast website can help you build your brand and engage with your audience.


  • Think about the long-term growth of your podcast. Can the hosting platform accommodate increased storage and bandwidth needs as your podcast gains popularity?

Additional Features:

  • Evaluate any extra features offered, such as social media sharing tools, podcast player customization, or integration with podcasting tools like automatic transcription.

As your podcast develops and grows, you may find yourself switching platforms as you learn more about what’s important for you. That's okay and completely expected! Take time to do your research into each platform's offering. 

Which hosting platform is right for you?

As we’ve stated throughout this playbook, podcast hosting is a must. 

It makes creating your podcast, managing your show, and analyzing your growth and listeners simpler and more efficient. This ultimately frees up your time to get creative with the actual content in your podcast! 

Whether you prioritize affordability, ease of use, analytics, or scalability, there's a platform out there to suit your needs. By considering factors like storage, bandwidth, monetization options, and distribution capabilities, you can make an informed choice that sets the stage for your podcast's success. 

Remember, the ideal hosting platform should not only accommodate your current requirements but also provide room for growth as your podcast flourishes. 

If you’re curious about podcast hosting and have any questions about what type of packages could work for you, your content, and your goals, connect with the CoHost team!