September 3, 2020

How to Own the Content of a Podcast

Read why podcast hosts need to have control of their RSS Feed.

How to Own the Content of a Podcast

Any content creator needs to own the content that is being created. The content and the audience have too much value for a content creator to not own the content. Platforms could leave a content creator with nothing if any problems occurred.

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Have full control of the content. This gives hosts the ability to provide the best experience possible for subscribers.

Avoid losing audience or content. A platform owns the content posted on the platform. The platform can delete it or the original account without a warning or discussion. By owning the content, a host avoids that problem.

How To Own Content

Different content gives content creators different control. The types of content a creator has full control of include podcasting, an email list, a blog, or a community. What is owning content? It means having control of every aspect involved in content creation. The difference is on other platforms, there are many restrictions. Platforms restrict user experience, type of content posted, or view-ability

For podcasting owning the content means having control of the RSS Feed. As well as access to any player that the podcast is on. If a host needs to contact another entity about an issue, then the host does not own their content. The entity that has control of the feed may add their own content to the podcast. The entity can make changes to the podcast information, which may go unnoticed for months. The best course of action to take is to change podcast hosts if a host is not in control of their RSS Feed. When the email in the RSS Feed changes, the podcast players will email the host to ask about the changes. That is when a host will gain ownership of their content.


No Censorship

There is a worry about censorship on platforms that a host does not have full control of the content. Every platform has a certain standard for the content they want on their platform. If a host's content does not meet that standard, the content could get deleted. The host can be as liberal as they want with their content when they own it.

Difficult To Steal Content

On other platforms, for users to steal content is not difficult. The platforms do not discourage stealing. By stealing content, a user is creating more posts and data on the platform, which benefits the platforms. When a user steals content on a platform where a host owns the content, there is a consequence. Search engines punish duplicate content by lowering the thief's post in the results. For theft to matter, the person needs a following for the content. Or needs to know how to promote the content better than the original.

Ability To Transfer Content

If a host does not like a platform for any reason, the host can move to another platform. Without any issue for their audience. The platforms that own the content force users to keep their content on their platform. If a host has a problem with the platform, the only move would be to stop using it.


A host does have to share profits with other entities on other platforms. When the content is on another platform, a third party is making money too. The platform may be making money from data from the host's audience. The platform can take a percentage of every ad played for a host's content. For example, if I make videos about sports and gets popular. The next step a platform will take is contacting a sportswear company. These ads will play before and after my videos. The platform will give me a cut of .002 cents per view. While the platform takes $2 per view as a "management fee." Having ownership means getting to take home all the money.


Difficult To Promote Content

The ease of being on a platform is that a host can reach millions of people. A host can reach out to them one by one if needed. When the content is on its own, getting people to see it can be difficult.

Straying Away From Masses

The majority of people will be on these platforms. They consume most of their content from platforms. For those users consuming content on a new platform means breaking their routine. Which will take time and effort to convince those users.


Bill Burr sees his specials as an ad for his podcast. His specials are an opportunity for streaming service viewers to become podcast listeners. He cares more about the podcast because he has 100% ownership of the podcast. He can make more money from a larger podcast audience. The podcast is an income stream. The larger the audience, the more money he can charge for ads. As opposed to a special, which is a lump-sum of money.

There has been a trend of comedians shooting specials themselves. The comedians put it up on their website, avoiding the streaming services. Putting a special on their website helps to avoid problems with third parties. The third parties are agents, managers, and streaming services. The comedian might make less money hosting the special themselves. The fewer people involved then the comedian takes home more money. If people buy the special for years, that will create a new income stream. As opposed to a one-time payment from a streaming service. Someone buying the special could buy merchandise at the same time. Making the comedian even more money. On a streaming service, a viewer cannot buy merchandise. A comedian sells a self-hosted special to their current audience. If the purpose of the new special is to get new people to find a comedian, a self-hosted special creates problems. Where the perks of a streaming service come in.


For hosts to own the content, they must have control of the RSS feed. Having control means no censorship for the host. There is no centralized organization that controls the host's content. If a podcast hosting company wants to censor a podcast host, the host can change to a different company. If a podcast player wants to censor a podcast host. Then, the host can promote their podcast on a different player.


Having ownership of the content is necessary. The best use for platforms is distributing content. Using the platforms to get users to become their subscribers. Using platforms for distribution gives host leverage. Any problems with a platform and a host can move to the next platform without issue. Taking control from the start can avoid headaches in the future.


This post is an excerpt from the Open Podcast Community book. The book is available for purchase here.