Comparing Soundcloud vs Libsyn
Have you been wanting to launch a podcast? Do you already have some episodes made but nowhere to host and share them with the world?
Every podcaster is plagued with the task of deciding on what media host to use. Once you settle on a platform to use, you can get started sharing your humor, ideas, and advice with the world.
There are thousands of podcast hosts to choose from, and it can seem overwhelming to make the right decision. Here, we will review two of the most popular platforms that creators use to host their shows: SoundCloud and Libsyn (see also our comparison of Soundcloud and Mixcloud). We’ll compare them side-by-side so you can determine which one to share your podcast on.
What Are the Differences Between SoundCloud and Libsyn?
At their core, both SoundCloud and Libsyn (see also ‘SoundCloud Vs Bandcamp‘) are media-sharing platforms. However, there are some major differences between the two that you should consider.
Musicians use SoundCloud, which was founded in 2007, to share and distribute their music. Though its setup and monetization options may largely cater to music artists, some podcasters have managed to thrive on SoundCloud.
Libsyn was founded a few years earlier than SoundCloud in 2004. Libsyn is exclusively a podcast hosting and distribution website.
A lot of podcasters like Libsyn as it specializes in podcasting. However, if you are looking to start a podcast, you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss SoundCloud altogether.
We’ll explore some factors you should consider when choosing which website to host and share your podcast on.
Price is probably the biggest factor to consider when choosing the right podcast hosting platform. Are you looking for something completely free, or do you have the budget to pay for a podcast hosting service every month?
Because it is a very specialized platform, Libsyn doesn’t offer any free podcasting services. You will have to pay something no matter which tier you’re on.
Some podcasters are disheartened by this lack of a free introductory tier. However, this podcasting service is still very affordable. Libsyn offers plans for as little as $5 per month, so you can host your show on a reliable website for the price of a Starbucks coffee. You can also hand over $2 extra per month for access to stats. Libsyn also offers more advanced plans ($15, $20, and $40 per month) that fit the needs of hobbyists and business owners alike.
If you’re looking for a way to air your podcast for free, SoundCloud is the way to go. When you’re on SoundCloud’s Basic plan, you’ll receive 3 hours of upload time as well as access to limited stats and basic embed controls. While SoundCloud’s free plan won’t be enough for serious podcasters, it will definitely suffice for those who are just getting started in the podcasting world!
SoundCloud also offers two different paid plans: SoundCloud Pro for $7/month and SoundCloud Pro Unlimited for $15/month.
If you’re looking for some big savings, SoundCloud will be your best bet. When you pay for the entire year in advance, you can save up to $45. These savings will add up and leave you with some extra spending money that you can use to improve your show.
Unfortunately, Libsyn doesn’t allow you to pay for a year in advance at a discounted rate like SoundCloud does.
When it comes to analyzing different podcast hosts, you should take their reputations into account. The website you choose is where your show will grow its following. If your podcast hosting platform goes out of your business, there’s a good chance your entire show will suffer.
With that in mind, SoundCloud and Libsyn (see also our comparison of Libsyn and Audioboom) have very different reputations that you should be aware of.
Since its inception, Libsyn has been a solid and financially stable company. It has never experienced any kind of financial trouble, and this can largely be attributed to the fact that it charges all of its users.
SoundCloud has experienced some financial issues in the past. In mid-2017, the company laid off nearly 40% of its staff. There were also questions about the platform’s true worth and speculations about it being sold. A change in management and a $170 million investment kept the company afloat.
In 2019, Rolling Stone reported that SoundCloud was generating $100 million a year and was back on track financially.
Even with SoundCloud’s rocky journey, it has proven that it is capable of bouncing back stronger than ever.
Based on Libsyn’s stable history and SoundCloud’s demonstrated resiliency, we expect both podcast platforms to hang around for a while.
However, if you’re going to heavily rely on one of these platforms to share your podcast, Libsyn is definitely the more trustworthy choice.
Both SoundCloud and Libsyn offer listeners an embeddable podcast player. Through our experience, we have found SoundCloud’s to be superior.
SoundCloud’s podcast player allows users to:
- Comment on specific portions of an episode
- Share podcasts to social networks like Twitter and Facebook
- Like and download podcasts
- Follow you
- Embed specific tracks from your profile
- View how many listens an episode has
These features are a great way to encourage fan interaction and facilitate feedback. This aspect of SoundCloud makes it more like a social platform, which is great for helping you establish yourself in the podcast world.
While Libsyn’s podcast player is functional and user-friendly, it isn’t nearly as versatile as SoundCloud’s. Listeners are primarily allowed to play and pause the podcast and adjust the volume.
As a podcaster, you do have some customization options available with Libsyn like:
- Choose from three different templates for its visual design
- Set the player to automatically “play upon loading”
- Customize the width and height of the player
- Add a thumbnail
Through our experience, we have found that Libsyn offers superior customer service when compared with SoundCloud. You may run into problems as a new podcaster, so you should ensure you have a reliable way to seek help when you need it.
Libsyn has been around for longer and specializes in hosting and distributing podcasts. Because of its expertise in the podcast realm, there are plenty of ways you can seek support.
You can enlist help with troubleshooting issues from podcasters who have been using the service for years. If there isn’t already a help article available, you can create a new inquiry and get the help of thousands of veteran Libsyn users.
Libsyn also offers a comprehensive “Help Desk” that contains resources like:
- Video tutorials
- An FAQ section
- An online form that you can submit
- Support emails that you can send messages
Those on a higher-tier Libsyn subscription will get access to additional help resources. But, those on lower-tier plans still receive a decent amount of support.
Because SoundCloud was initially designed for musicians, its customer support for podcasters is not nearly as comprehensive. If you choose SoundCloud as your podcast host, you will be sacrificing some resources and customer support to help you develop your show.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) set standards for metrics when measuring all of your podcasts’ listening numbers. These guidelines are pertinent to improving the podcasting industry and help creators keep track of who is consuming their content.
IAB compliance is becoming an industry standard. If creators are tracking their stats without abiding by IAB standards, they will have a hard time making proposals to advertisers and sponsors.
SoundCloud’s analytics do not comply with the IBA’s standards, so their accuracy is a little up in the air. However, SoundCloud generally does a good job of reporting ballpark numbers, so you can get a general idea of how your episodes are performing.
Libsyn’s stat tracking was re-designed for IAB compliance in 2017. Though it took several phases to get to that point, Libsyn is now IBA compliant. This podcast platform is superior for reporting accurate stats to teams and advertisers alike.
One thing we like about Libsyn is that it doesn’t distort or alter your audio files at all. If you upload a 256kbps file, that’s what your listeners will download.
SoundCloud will alter your audio files slightly. This platform transcodes all audio files to 128kbps for streaming. Whenever a podcast is transcoded, some clipping and distortion may occur. These slight alterations aren’t anything to worry about, but they can become annoying to audio purists.
SoundCloud and Libsyn offer storage space in different measurements. SoundCloud measures storage space in terms of time, while Libsyn measures it in terms of file size.
A lot of podcasters don’t like SoundCloud’s way of measuring storage space. When your uploads are measured by time, you are strictly limited to how many audio files you can upload. When your uploads are limited by file size, you can make some technical adjustments to your files and upload more content without sacrificing the overall quality of your podcasts.
Libsyn doesn’t offer unlimited storage on any plan. The lowest plan only provides 50mb of storage space per month, which will let most podcasters upload about four episodes. For the average podcaster, Libsyn has plans that offer up to 3,000mb of storage space. The company also encourages those with more storage needs to reach out to its representatives for customized solutions. Even with Libsyn’s diverse plans, there is no true option for unlimited storage.
Even though SoundCloud’s way of measuring storage space isn’t preferred, you can get around this by simply opting for the Pro Unlimited plan. The Pro Unlimited plan lets you upload an unlimited number of podcasts, so you won’t have to worry about limiting uploads every month.
If you are well into your podcasting career, you may have hundreds or thousands of episodes that need to migrate with you. Your new podcast hosting platform should offer a seamless way to transfer all of your episodes.
This is one area where SoundCloud falls short. SoundCloud makes you manually import every episode you have into its platform. This can quickly become tedious if you have a lot of episodes that need to be transferred. Plus, all of your newly uploaded episodes won’t be tied to your existing RSS feed. Because of this flaw, you will need to manually combine listener data from all of your traffic sources to get accurate statistics for your show.
By default, all SoundCloud creators make a new RSS feed when they create an account. You can redirect an existing RSS feed to your new one, but this may cause problems when you share your content on other channels.
We like Libsyn’s importing process a lot better. As Libsyn is primarily a podcast hosting company, it better caters to podcasters’ needs. Simply send the company a message with your current hosting company and existing RSS feed URL. From there, a representative will help you transfer all of your content over in one go.
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Final Verdict: Which Is the Better Podcast Hosting Service?
After reading through this comparison of Libsyn and SoundCloud, you are likely asking yourself Which is the best podcast for me?
While we would love to provide you with one straightforward answer, there isn’t one. Each hosting service will be better suited for different podcasters. Those who want to try podcasting for free, SoundCloud offers a simple free plan that will meet any novice podcaster’s needs. Libsyn is better for those who would like to take their show to the next level.
If you’re just starting your career as a podcaster, use SoundCloud to try the podcasting free plan. Once on this free plan, you can familiarize yourself with SoundCloud’s set up. Once your show’s popularity begins to pick up, you can consider paying for SoundCloud for more storage space, advanced stats, advanced share and embed controls, and the ability to schedule releases.
As you continue to grow your brand, you can think about switching over to Libsyn. This podcast hosting website has a stronger reputation and is more likely to last for as long as your show will. Plus, Libsyn lets you seamlessly transfer your existing content over, so you’ll like that it’s better designed for those who have some experience with creating podcasts.
No matter your final decision, both Libsyn and Sound Cloud are solid contenders to host your podcasts.