Earn Your iTunes Podcast Placement
Tim Jarret points to the universal problem
of independent creators as played out in Apple's support for podcasting in iTunes. Independent podcasts get equal opportunity listing in the iTunes podcast directory, but don't get equal opportunity promotion of the large corporations now producing podcasts. Well, duh! The musicians selected for promotion in iTunes music store aren't the ones with the best songs. They aren't the ones selling the most concert tickets (although some may be). The musicians with the biggest promotion via iTunes music store are the musicians backed by the largest marketing budgets.
Contrary to the desires of all us little people, iTunes music store is a business endeavor. If you want a podcast promoted on the front page of the podcasting section of the store, Apple requires some financial incentive to make it happen. They didn't add podcasting support to iTunes to make all the 'indie' podcasters more successful. They added podcasting support to iTunes to sell more iPods. They added podcasting support to iTunes to sell more music tracks. Most importantly, they added podcasting support to iTunes music store to get Mac and Windows users to spend more time using iTunes.
If you want your podcast to rise to the top in iTunes, focus your time on encouraging as many people as possible to subscribe to your podcast though the iTunes store interface. Issue a press release when your interview someone interesting. Take out a BlogAd on sites with a theme similar to your podcast subject matter to get more subscribers. Buy Google Adwords associated with your podcast topic. If you don't have a budget, team up with likeminded podcasters to build a network of sites that drive traffic to your collective efforts.
It's not Apple's job to help you get new subscribers - you need to convince people to subscribe to your podcast or languish in obscurity forever. What Apple does bring to the table is an interface millions of people understand. Create a quick link to your podcast page
in iTunes to lower the barrier to acquiring new customers. People get the idea of clicking a button to acquire audio in the iTunes interface. iTunes subscriptions work equally well for iTunes and Windows users, although they don't work with non-iPod music players.
Don't blame Apple for acting in shareholders best interests when they feature companies willing to spend promotional dollars. Get out there and promote yourself.