Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Apple iTunes dilemma

Quite a long blog entry from a problem we were having earlier today, click our spoilers link to read the full post.

  • If all goes according to plan we will be doing some interviews with a radio station and newspaper tomorrow. We were going to recommend that people that are new to podcasting would go to our site, click the "Subscribe via iTunes" button and everything would be taken care of. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that last night we were totally removed from iTunes. Apple know our email address but have dropped us without contacting us with a reason. The convenience of searching for our show in iTunes no longer yields any results. Where our show once stood in the iTunes Top 100 UK podcasts chart, now stands the network US radio show WDYD's Best of Jim And Randy.

    Everything was going so well, all the time and effort we have been putting into making our show was paying off. The fair nature of iTunes basing their charts on the number of subscribers was giving our show the exposure our listeners thought we deserved. In this new level playing field it felt great that two ordinary guys doing something they enjoyed doing could take on the big boys of broadcasting. That was what felt great about podcasting.

    A manual cut and paste of the XML RSS url feed is the only way you'll be able to subscribe to our show in future - try explaining that on a radio show to people without any confusion. We are back to the good old days of podcasting, the 'one-click' dream has been shattered.

    We wanted to really give Apple the credit it deserves by telling the public that iTunes is the software to download for people getting into podcasting. Its a shame that all these new potential listeners to podcasting won't hear about iTunes software anymore. Some of these people might have gone on to purchase music from iTunes, maybe even an iPod or a computer. But how can we possibly recommend some software that isn't user friendly when it comes to subscribing to our show?

    We don't really know what we have done to upset Apple. Perhaps when we recorded the Top Ten Apple Products we didn't mention them enough, maybe giving them only the number 2 position in the Top Ten Cool Brands or number 8 in the Top Ten Best Web sites. When we put the iPod and iBook right at the top of the list of gadgets to have that might have swayed their decision to delete us from their directory without reason. We were under the impression that our show was family friendly, we have never hurt anyone and we have always promoted Apple.

    That is our dilemma, we need to know how we should handle it - please use our comments board. We certainly don't want to recommend podcasting to the general public with some obscure method of subscribing, especially when Apple went to all that effort to making the process as easy as possible. But we are not really PR people, maybe we should ask the expert PR people at Apple who deal with these sort of dilemmas all the time? Why don't you try asking them too? Their contact details are found at http://www.apple.com/pr/contacts. We are guessing that Tom Neumayr is the real expert in PR because they've given him the position of Press Contacts Manager for iTunes, so he is bound to be the best person to discuss using iTunes for podcasting. He's bound to have lots of spare time on his hands to talk about why it isn't easy for our listeners to subscribe to our shows any more using their products - especially now that Apple has cleaned all these nasty offensive non-profit making podcasts from their directory he won't need to be dealing with all those complains from concerned parents and record company execs any more.

22 comments:

digitaldion said...

Hey guys,

I am dismayed to hear of your trouble with Apple! Tut, tut, tut! That is not going to help us to convince Rob to cross over from the dark side!

Here is a copy of the email that I sent to Apple. (P.S. the link to his email address on your web page is not correct, it takes one to a blogger error page).

Let's get as many people as possible emailing him!


_______

Dear Mr Neymayr,

It is with some measure of concern that I write this email to you. I am an avid Apple user, well a little more than that really, I own 6 Mac laptops and a PowerMac. I am also a dedicated iTunes user. I was pleased to see addition of a Podcast feature in iTunes 4.9. It means that I can now subscribe to the many podcasts that I listen to without the hassle of having to go to the web page to download each one.

However, I was dismayed to learn that one of the most popular podcasts, Top of the Pods (URL: http://www.topofthepods.com, XML: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TopOfThePods) was removed from your Top 100 list, and now no longer features on your service at all! This podcast is clearly one of the most popular shows, since it is often in the Podcastalley top 10. Could you possibly help me to understand why you would choose to remove this podcast from your service altogether?

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Best regards,

Dion Forster




____
Dion A Forster, B.Th.Hons, MTh, DTh
Dean of Students
John Wesley College
81 Pitts Ave, Weavind, Park, 0184, South Africa
URL: http://www.spirituality.org.za

Top Of The Pods said...

Thanks for that Dion, its great to have the support of our listeners. We can't work out what we have done wrong!

Patrice said...

What a pity. I took my time to write to Mr. Neumayr. Just hope it's in at least half-understandable English.

Dear Mr. Neumayr

I'm writing to you as a big Apple fan, but also as a listener of the Top Of The Pods podcast. It seems you removed that podcast from the iTunes podcast directory without any notice to the publishers. Is there any reason for that? I really enjoy that podcast and they even were in the top 100 UK podcasts. I can't see any reason of removing them, especially without any notice.

You probably want to read the complete story at their Web site. http://topofthepods.blogspot.com/2005/07/apple-itunes-dilemma.html

So I really hope this was just a misunderstanding and if not, that you at least have an explanation for this removal.

Please excuse that I write to you directly, I could not find any feedback link at the podcast directory.

Regards,
Patrice Neff

Adrian Pegg said...

"We wanted to really give Apple the credit it deserves by telling the public that iTunes is the software to download for people getting into podcasting."

WHY?? iTunes ISN'T the software to download to get into podcasting because it doesn't work with anything other than iPods. There are plenty of us out here who don't use iPods, and Apple can't be allowed to hijack podcasting like this. You shouldn't encourage them, and you shouldn't imply that it makes it simple. It doesn't. Unless you have an iPod that is.

PH said...

Dear Mr. Neumayr,
I am contacting you in regards to the podcast "Top of the Pods" being removed from the iTunes directory listings. I am unable to fathom why this has occurred. Would you please let me know why it has been removed? I am an avid Apple fan. I bought a G4 iMac (the top of the line model that looks a bit like a lamp) as soon as it was released, because I was so impressed with the design (it is a work of art). I also bought an iPod, the original model with 10GB, very early on, and continue to enjoy it's excellent design and functionality. iTunes is an excellent piece of software. My friend also recently purchased an iPod, and started using iTunes, after he had seen my older model, and loves both the iPod and iTunes. When Apple announced it was going to feature podcasting in iTunes 4.9 I stood up and took notice. I had heard of podcasting, but this news made it definitely worth looking into. I immediately became hooked on it, it is a great new form of content delivery. Apple, as usual, acted wisely and adopted/integrated it into its software. I quickly found "Top of the Pods" as it was listed in your directory, and I now listen to it daily. It is a thoroughly excellent show, the best podcast I have been able to find. It is of a consistently high quality, and strives to be family friendly (which many others I came across did not). I would have thought those qualities would be fully in line with Apple's philosophy.

Patiently awaiting your reply,

Top Of The Pods said...

Hi Adrian

Fully agree with you regarding that comment - there are other podcatchers out there. However it seemed the only 1 click solution out there - if you don't have iTunes installed then it will offer you a download. The other reason is that it is a recognisable brand and we hope the public will have more trust in something that they have heard about in the media.

We doubt very much that Apple really care enough to sort this out, so we will be recommending iPodder in the future - sadly talking through the 'look for the orange XML rss button, download the iPodder application and paste it into the subscribe field' is more of a challenge to explain on a 3 minute radio slot than 'click the link on our site'.

I'm a non iPod user myself - funnily enough I was saving up to get a 40GB ipod because I was personally impressed by iTunes and was just getting used to it. Finding that a huge stack of content is missing, including our own has just lost Apple £300. Plus I'm not exactly going to be rushing out to tell other people to buy these things either.

Rob

MJ said...

Apple sucks big time for this, they have removed a lot of feeds today.
But I wouldn't worry it.
Just make sure you plug the website, and give instructions on how to subscribe manually via Itunes or tell them to use ipodder. Anyone with half a brain will figure it out. Only AOL users will be too stupid and you don't want them listening anyway.

Grant said...

Here's what I sent Mr Halfwit at Apple:

Sir,

I'm rather perturbed by the way that Apple seems to have been promoting podcasting, yet deems it necessary to completely remove the brilliant, individual, non-corporate podcasters from iTunes.

I'd rather listen to inventive amateur talent than the sanitized, overproduced and stereotypical fare that you seem now to be promoting. After all, they started the whole phenomenon; it wasn't started by network radio stations who you now seem to favour.

I'm writing in particular to complain about the removal of topofthepods.com; this is a hilarious, universally popular and family-friendly show which, believe it or not, has promoted Apple's products to the listeners. And you reward them by initially having them on iTunes and then removing them ?

These guys were about to do press interviews tomorrow and were going to advise the public that it was best to use iTunes to get their show, as it involved one click on their iTunes icon to subscribe. What better local publicity for your products could you want ? And to think users could then have clicked on and bought music from iTunes...

It would seem that big business is really who you want to court from your actions. However, you should bear in mind that many, many people will shun your podcasting service if it restricts them to the kind of homogenised , US-biased nonsense. How could you drop topofthepods when it was in your top 100 UK podcasts and replace it with the network US radio show WDYD's Best of Jim And Randy ? I know what I'd rather listen to, and it's not Jim and Randy !


I'd be really interested, as would the listenership of topofthepods, in hearing your reasoning behind the cull of what makes podcasting so interesting and innovative from iTunes.

Regards

Grant

I'd also recommend RSS Radio as your podcast aggregator. Works with old heaps of junk like my Pentium 2 machine running Windows ME; plus it gives Podcast directories in which your show's listed.

I vote we all shun Apple. I much prefer my iRiver H120 anyway and would never EVER buy anything Apple.

Top Of The Pods said...

All this anti apple stuff is hurting me!!!
I love apple.
Why did they go and do a silly thing like remove us from the iTunes directory?

Bummer.

Jonathan
www.topofthepods.com

digitaldion said...

I just received this GREAT email from Apple in response to the message I sent earlier! No need to be hurt about Apple anymore Jonathan, see Apple does ROCK!

Now you have to change to Mac Rob!!! AND, buy that iPod, you won't look back!

PS. Why not get a few folks to send a message of thanks to the guy who sorted it: kmoerer at apple.com (had to change the address since blogger wouldn't accept it otherwise)

_____

From: Keith Moerer kmoerer at apple.com (I had to 'fix' the email address to get blogger to accept this comment.
Date: 13 July 2005 7:15:19 PM
To: dion@xxxxxx.xxx.xx
Subject: top of the pods

Dear Mr. Forster--

Tom Neumayer in Apple Public Relations forwarded your email to me re: 'Top of the Pods.' I found three versions of your podcast in our system.

My only theory is that our engineering team, in an attempt to remove duplicate podcasts from our system, accidentally removed all three three.

I apologize for this, and have added 'Top of the Pods' back into our directory. It should re-appear in search later today, and in browse as well by tomorrow.

Best, Keith

Al said...

Hey Digital D...I'll put you on my team any day...good work...I was ready to storm the local Apple store with 100 peasants and flaming torches...

MJ said...

Hooray .. well done Digital Dion. TOTP is back in the top 100 UK podcasts on Itunes.
If it's any consolatation it seems they have even removed the BBC's no 1 podcast - Mark Kermode's film reviews. But the BBC can't muster the same kind of popular outrage that TOTP can and it's still not listed.

Top Of The Pods said...

3 cheers to everyone who wrote to Apple - thanks so much for the help with this. Sounds like Apple has quite a small iTunes team - probably under a lot of pressure to things running. Maybe they should worry efforts on adding podcasts to the directory rather than removing duplicates.

Anyway - because of this radio interview on Thursday morning I think it would be beneficial to have the site looking devoid of this technical post and just our usual long list of shows - therefore I'm going to hide this post. It will only be for a couple of days whilst a potential audience new to podcasting check out the site - after that this post will be back up and running. Please no flaming about this decision - I'm not trying to censor anything, just trying to give the least confusing doorway into podcasting.

Rob
Top of the Pods

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... Well it's your show and your call & I can see where you're coming from. But all this fuss for radio Peterborough and their Alan Partridge equivalent? IMHO Podcasting margeting should be about blogs and fellow podcasters. If this gives you more exposure than tartan podcast then I'll eat my kilt.

Al said...

It's your call...but its a shame that this example of the ability of the podcasting community to respond to and solve a problem will be hidden. If anything would be a powerful selling point for podcasting it would be this.

Top Of The Pods said...

Good point on the last 2 posts - I;m gonna leave it up after all. Its a shame the post uses up so much screen real-estate. But you are both right - this is really a great story about the podcasting community helping us out.

Patrice said...

I'm really glad it worked out alright. And I'm glad out it really came out as a mishap. Working as an engineer at a job with such an exposure must be stressful sometimes. So kudos to the Apple guys who where able to resolve this matter so quickly. Now you're even in there twice when I search for topofthepods...

Anyway, I'd also recommend keeping this posting in there. But of course you could just create a new podcast now so that at least the newest posting is something different. ;-) Or put in a nice and friendly welcome message.

Anyway, to Jon and Rob: keep up the good work you are doing. Big thank you for all the original, funny, inspiring and interesting shows you have done so far.

MJ said...

You could always record ten new shows tonight to solve the problem ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow ... using the style sheets trick and hiding the post is both very clever and the perfect compromise.

Peter Haycock said...

Guys - recommend Replay Radio Podcast Edition (which is a free download - you can upgrade to the full RR alowing you to record Internet Radio if you want but you don't have to).

This is a one click solution - + it lets you look at the podcaster web site (click on the podcast show name) and sample a show before deciding whether to subscribe. If you prefer NOT to subscribe it gives you an option just to download the show manually - best of all worlds.

It lists over 4500 podshows already (yours is one of them! - or should I say ours since I am a dedicated subscriber) and you can add a show if it is not already inb the list. Once added the show is available for anyone to search for and subscribe to with the one click fix.

No caching - it just links to your podcast using YOUR feed.

Try this link http://www.replay-video.com/replay-radio/index.php and check the side bar for the Podcast features.

Sure they would love you to buy their full Replay Radio product (which I love anyway) but you don't have to.

Oh, and it will link the stuff to the ITunes player if you want it to (I don't!)

Initially I liked the iTunes set up but found it a little too restrictive - so I use Winamp and the Ipod plugin to do the synch instead and that works very well.

Anyhway - keep up the good work

Peter

Anonymous said...

I wonder why more examples of TOTP keep appearing in the iTunes podcast directory? There are 3 if you search now.

Top Of The Pods said...

Then crazy Apple people. Making me look stupid.

Jonathan
TOTP