With podcasting getting hotter and hotter by the day, more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Yet many of them haven't done their homework and are making the same mistakes.
For example, in June of 2018, it came to the attention of podcasters that Castbox.fm had been hijacking their feed. This is where you create a duplicate feed with altered information.
Free podcast host Podshow.com did the same thing in 2006 the apologized, “After the release of PodShow+ on July 6, 2006, other podcasts‘s RSS feeds were copied and modified by PodShow, with PodShow copyrights overwriting original feeds. Instead of XML feeds linking to the original, they linked to the internal cache. Adam Curry addressed the issue in the following Saturdays episode of the Daily Source Code in which he stated: “We basically cache that, no different from what iTunes does.” Curry went on to explain by saying “What should have happened was that the link underneath the orange on white XML button should be a direct link to the original, with original information, no added bits from us, original copyrights etc, Instead of linking to the external feed, it went to the internal feed. It wasn’t a bug, it was a dumb mistake, it slipped through.”
So Podcast History is (sadly) Repeating.
Later the social media director of Castbox published this in the facebook group, “Liza Joely Strauss Hi Podcast Movement Community,
We heard your concerns and would like to rectify a misunderstanding about our platform. Castbox honors podcaster’s work and copyrights. We do not divert any listeners from original publisher's sites. When a user plays a podcast on Castbox, the play is always credited to the original host. We only track play counts on our platform and make that data public, but those plays are always directly linked back to the hosts and show up on host stats. We are just a platform and not a host (my emphasis). Any alleged “separate” “mirrored” RSS feed info created by Castbox is only to enhance and optimize indexing and searchability of the original content. They still direct listeners to the same, original publishers
While we appreciate that they were not copying our files on to their servers, the point is YOU NEVER GET BETWEEN A PODCASTER AND THEIR AUDIENCE. I'm also a little confused on how something private is supposed to help with search results.
The other interesting line in her response is:
We are just a platform and not a host
Yet if you go to their site you see:
So, Um.. well, hmmmm…
“We are just a platform and not a host” appears to be a non-truth. They might want to reword that phrase. I understand they may be saying “We don't make a copy of your files” (i.e. Google Play Music, Spotify) but to say “we are not a host,” is incorrect. They are trying to find a strategy that makes money before they burn through another 13.5 million. They make a cool app (its missing playlists), they have a weird free hosting plan that only submits your show to their platform (source Midroll interview https://www.earwolf.com/…/peter-vincer-head-of-global…/ ) now they are promising podcasters “added Exposure” if they move to their platform. I would call someone who is “benefitting” from this “added exposure” before considering that move. Now they want to be the Netflix of Podcasting (https://www.fastcompany.com/…/these-companies-are… ) so they seem to be a bit all over the place. Sounds a bit ready, fire, aim to me.
In the same way that Anchor.fm will submit your show to Apple “For you” (but that then they own your feed and you can't check your stats podcastsconnect.apple.com ) There just seems to be more and more people getting into podcasting without having a basic understanding of how it works.
When Peter Vincer, Head of Global Strategic Partnerships at CastBox was on the Wolf Den podcast he seemed to struggle explaining exactly what Castbox is. This link jumps to the good stuff
So again, it just doesn't fill me with a lot of confidence in their brand. That is a shame as I was very impressed with their app when it first came on board and they seem to implement changes quickly.
In an interview with Podnews.net a Castbox spokesperson said, “In any event, RSS subscriptions are not real traffic, only the traffic downloading/playing the mp3 file which is available on their
hosted platform.” To this, I say RSS subscriptions ARE EVERYTHING. Are you KIDDING ME? In that article James Cridland mentions that “All links to our website have been removed. Through a
link rel=alternate header at the top of the page, this page linked to an altered and republished RSS feed on Castbox's website.
So you duplicated the feed and altered it. I don't know in any world where that sounds like a good idea.
They are using business plans (like free podcast media hosting) that have been tried over and over and over (did I mention Podshow went out of business?). They are making duplicate feeds for internal use (but are supposed to help them on Google? How does that work). They are not being transparent (there is no mention of this on their official blog). Instead of owning this on their blog, they posted an apology in facebook (dated July 29th, again not a confidence builder – as it was June 29th)
So every company makes mistakes, the trues test is how transparent you are, how you accept responsibility, and how you pivot to make sure it never happens again.