Troubleshooting Show Updates in the iTunes Store

feed validator, show not updating in iTunes, missing shows in iTunes

Hellooo podcasters! This is Krystal from the Libsyn support team, and we wanted to let you know about an issue many producers are running into – and what you can do to fix it, or avoid it all together.

Note, this affects all podcast shows, not just shows hosted as Libsyn. Consider this a public service announcement.

Many of you have noticed that your show is experiencing some strange behavior inside the iTunes store:

  • Your show is very slow to update (takes more than a day)
  • Some episodes are skipped, while newer episodes update
  • New episodes never make it to the store

To be clear, I’m referring specifically to the iTunes store. In most cases, subscribers still receive content as normal.

So what exactly can cause these types of issues?

  1. Your RSS feed is invalid
  2. Your show artwork does not meet iTunes specifications

Validating the Feed

Let’s start with the first one, feed validation. Stripped to it’s bones, an RSS feed is a bunch of code put together in such a way that feed readers (or podcatchers) can use to organize content and present it to you. If that code is incorrect, the feed can’t work properly. This is called validation, which simply means making sure your feed code is, well, valid. Checking validation is easy, any one of the following sites can help you check and make sure your feed is valid:

Some validators get straight into the code and are not necessarily podcast specific (W3C and Feedvalidator), others are specific to podcasts. Bookmark them all, use the one you like. Take your RSS feed URL and plug it into a feed validation service, and see what comes back.

Validating an RSS Feed
Validating an RSS Feed

If the feed is valid, it will say so. If a feed is invalid, you will see something like the above.

The Show Artwork

So what about that second item on the list, artwork. Does artwork matter all that much?

Yes.

Your artwork must meet specific requirements, or eventually, you will have problems in iTunes (in fact, if you are a new show trying to submit, iTunes will throw an error on submission if your artwork does not meet their requirements). So let’s roll that beautiful footage:

  • 1400x1400px (minimum)
  • 3000x3000px (maximum, anything in between as long as it’s square)
  • Under 500kb
  • Use sRGB color space
  • Be a JPG, JPEG, or a PNG file

Why the emphasis on the third item on the list? The reason for the emphasis is that iTunes doesn’t actually list this one in their specifications. However, they have repeatedly iterated to members of the Libsyn team the size limitation, and have requested larger images be fixed prior to any additional work done on their end to kickstart a show into updating again.

Your show artwork gets uploaded under Settings –> Show Settings in your Libsyn account. Aren’t sure if your file size fits their requirements? I like to check images in a feed using Firefox:

Here’s the catch. Many producers will look at the image they think they are using located somewhere on their computer. Note that the image may not be what you think, and the only way to know for sure is to look at the source iTunes pulls from, the feed.

But… but…

Many shows are now displaying problems that never had problems before. Nothing has changed in “X time period”. Yea, I know, but it’s a problem now. Why?

Because iTunes now cares.

Typically, these issues start to rear their head after iTunes makes a change. There isn’t necessarily a direct corrolation, but regardless of the why, the fact is, iTunes wants your feed to be valid and your artwork to meet their specifications. If it doesn’t, it will break in the iTunes store (and probably other directories as well) eventually.

My Feed is Valid, My Artwork is Awesome

In a very few number of cases, feeds will be or remain stuck even once a feed is valid and your artwork meets requirements. In those cases, contact iTunes support directly at podcastssupport@apple.com. Provide them with:

  • The URL to your show in the iTunes store
  • Your RSS feed URL

Let them know your feed is valid, your artwork is amazing, and your show won’t update in the store. They will give it a kick for you. They typically respond within a day.

Yes, you can also refresh your show in Podcasts Connect if you are so inclined. With that said, make sure you do not touch anything else (see details on Podcasts Connect for the hows and whys).

Also, the iTunes team has been tracking issues with updates, so letting them know and letting them have a look can help them ensure these issues get fixed, so we still recommend reaching out to them first.

Need Help?

If you are having trouble validating your feed, fixing your artwork, or have any other questions, please reach out to our support team at support@libsyn.com. We’d love to hear from you!

This concludes your PSA. Happy podcasting!

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