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Free vs Paid Podcast Hosting – Why Would Anyone Ever Pay?


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Free vs paid podcast hosting – with so many free options available, you may wonder why anyone would pay. 

While we’ve covered this topic before and laid out reasons why free hosting isn’t the best option for everyone, we understand why many people still ask why they should pay.

In this post, you’ll learn about the limitations of free podcast hosting services, why some podcast hosts charge, and why so many podcasters are happy to pay for podcast hosting without limits. 

Is Free Podcast Hosting Really Free?

We admit it, free podcast hosting sounds like a great deal!

Getting a podcast RSS feed, digital storage, reliable bandwidth, access to analytics, and streamlined publishing for $0 seems like an awesome offer right?

But, if someone came up to you and said they were giving you a new electric bike for free, wouldn’t your first question be, “What’s the catch?” 🤔

It’s important to remember that the platforms offering “free” services are businesses that make money from their users to cover their expenses.

If you are starting a podcast for any of the following reasons, we highly suggest understanding the pitfalls and limitations of using a free service like Spotify for Podcasters (formerly Anchor):

  • You are creating your podcast for your brand or business.
  • You plan on turning your podcast into a business at some point.
  • You plan on actively podcasting, gaining a fan base, and then monetizing your show to make money.

With options to create, distribute and monetize a podcast, it’s easy to see why so many new podcasters choose Spotify for Podcasters to start their show.

But is Spotify for Podcasters really free, and what limitations will you run into?

dog with money

Are You Starting a Podcast to Make Money?

In digging into the fine print, you’ll find that Anchor’s monetization philosophy is that “we should all make money together, rather than profiting off each other’s needs.”

Another way to say this is that if you use their monetization tools, they’ll take a significant cut of your profits. 😲

For example, if you use Spotify for Podcasters Sponsorships, they’ll take a 30% cut of the money you make. Ouch! 

That might sound like a sweet deal until your show starts getting popular and you see how much you are actually “paying” to use this “free” service.  💸

If your show takes off, you could be paying hundreds or thousands in fees.

In comparison, with RSS.com for only $11.99/month (annual plan), you are in full control of your show.

Top Reasons to Avoid Free Podcast Hosting Services Like Spotify for Podcasters

  • Limited Episode Length – Do you ever want to cut a episode short because the file size will be larger than what your free host allows?
  • You Don’t Actually Own Your Content – Be sure to read the fine print if you sign up a free service. Some services will insert ads into your episodes that you won’t be compensated for.
  • It’s Difficult to Move Your Show – If you outgrow a free service, oftentimes they make it very difficult to redirect your content to another host.
  • Monetization Limitations – Some free services will put restrictions on your monetization efforts. Other will take up to 30% by using their sponsorship programs.
  • Anchor disables your RSS feed by default. Anchor.fm is owned by Spotify and has a vested interest in keeping you on Spotify which is why they disable your RSS feed by default.
  • Anchor customer support is close to non-existent. Replies to customer question and complaints often take days. There are many Anchor users who are unhappy and frustrated because of their lack of real customer support.
pug in blanket

The Hidden Costs of Podcast Hosting with Spotify for Podcasters

  • If you choose to allow Spotify for Podcasters to distribute your show to the major podcast directories, it will “block your access to additional Apple stats in podcastsconnect.apple.com.” Not cool, right? Also, you’ll find that the email listed in your feed for iTunes Owner is not the email that you used to set up your Spotify for Podcasters account.
  • Spotify for Podcasters also limits your podcast categories to just one, whereas other hosts allow you to add up to three giving you more opportunities to be found on Apple Podcasts.
  • Also, because many podcasters choose to have Anchor distribute their podcasts on their behalf, they lose access to most analytics – sure, Spotify for Podcasters does give you an analytics dashboard, but details you’re looking for and need might not be accessible.
  • WiredClip reported that in the Spotify for Podcasters account settings, the box “Anchor Post-Roll” is checked by default allowing Anchor to add an advertisement to the end of your episodes that you won’t get paid for. They admit you can uncheck this box, but we agree with WiredClip that this is kind of a sneaky way to make money off your users.
  • Spotify for Podcasters can shut down without warning. Because they are a free service, they could simply decide to shut everything down and take your content offline.
  • Spotify for Podcasters has recently changed the format of an RSS feed making it harder to redirect your show to another host, or to submit your show to podcast directories yourself. If you outgrow Spotify for Podcasters, it can be difficult to leave and transfer your content to another host.
  • Spotify for Podcasters is “designed to be automated,” but that translates into having “little control over a number of features that may turn away professional podcasters,” says Resonate Recordings.
  • There is a chance your podcast could be copied and reloaded. According to PodNews, “Spotify for Podcasters is hosting a large number of pirated podcasts from other publishers, we can reveal today. 30% of all the Podtrac top 20 podcasts are currently being copied on Anchor, according to our searches.” One podcast had as many as five pirated copies hosted on Spotify for Podcasters!

Why Paying for Hosting Makes Sense

Now that you understand the limitations of “free” services, here’s why so many professional podcasters and businesses hosting with RSS.com choose to pay for service:

  • Automatic and guided distribution of your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and other major podcast directories.
  • Free episode transcripts that you can use to promote your show.
  • The ability to convert your audio episodes into videos and upload to YouTube directly from your dashboard.
  • Detailed podcast analytics to help you understand your audience.
  • Free website for your podcast. 
  • The ability to host multiple shows from the same account. 
  • Extremely easy to use – new shows can be up and running in around 5 minutes.
  • Monetization options including sponsorship opportunities, Apple Podcast Subscriptions integration, and Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) for approved shows.
  • Removal of your email address from your public RSS feed to protect your privacy and prevent unwanted email spam. 
  • The ability to add collaborators (Admins and Analysts) to enhance how you manage your show.
  • World-class customer support
  • Inclusion in our podcast Community section for additional discoverability of your show.

And if you decide for any reason that RSS.com isn’t the right fit, we won’t hold your episodes hostage! We make it easy to redirect your podcast from RSS.com to another host if that’s what you decide to do so.

RSS.com vs Spotify for Podcasters

Privacy and Security
Enhanced privacy and security features to protect your content and data.

Standard privacy and security features. Want proof? See this recent article.
Control Over Your ContentYou maintain full full control over your content.
Your podcast can be deleted without prior notice. Want proof? See this thread and check out this article.
Monetization Options
Multiple monetization options including Dynamic Ads Insertion, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, Sponsorship opportunities and Podcasting 2.0 Value4Value.

Limited monetization options only through ads.
Advertising Control
Full control over ads and sponsorships.

Ads are controlled by Spotify, with less flexibility for the podcaster.
AI FeaturesConvert your audio episodes into engaging videos using our PodViz technology and enjoy free episode transcripts in all plans.
No transcripts or YouTube integration.
Competitive pricing for advanced features and dedicated support.

Free, but with limited features and support compared to paid services.
Customer Support
Dedicated customer support with quick response times.

Basic support. Long waiting times.
Customer Satisfaction
4.9 Rating on Trustpilot

4.5 Rating on Trustpilot
Why podcasters choose RSS.com over Spotify for Podcasters (formerly known as Anchor)?

Free vs Paid Podcast Hosting – Which is Best

There are good reasons for both paid and free services, and which one you choose depends on your specific podcasting needs and goals. Pros opt for paid, whereas hobbyists typically opt for free.

Though platforms like Spotify for Podcasters seem appealing because they are free, as you’ve seen, there are serious limitations.

For a modest price, podcasters can use paid hosts like RSS.com to get access to all the features you need to start, grow, and monetize your podcast.

What are you waiting for? Experience for yourself why our worldwide community of podcasters love our service

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