Get into the New and Noteworthy on iTunes

/ / Podcasting
Apple Podcast, New And Noteworthy

The New and Noteworthy category on iTunes is the holy grail of podcast promotion. It’s like the front page of podcasting. So if your aim is rapid podcast growth, it’s a good target. Win a spot and you’ll enjoy overnight popularity, a large new audience and probably advertising opportunities. Read on to find out how to go about getting your podcast listed in New and Noteworthy.

What is New and Noteworthy?

New And Noteworthy, Apple Podcast

New and Noteworthy is a curated list of podcasts that appear on the iTunes homepage. iTunes basically invented podcasting and is still the leading podcast listening platform. iTunes uses New and Noteworthy to showcase ‘compelling, new, or unusual content.’ It’s a place for the discovery of new shows, filtered heavily by algorithms and also curated by humans, who assist in picking tomorrow’s hit shows. Getting into New and Noteworthy is a worthwhile promotional tactic for any podcaster who aims for massive growth.

How does launching a podcast work?

Your Podcast Like An Engine

Launching a show to Apple Podcasts works like an old car engine; in order to get it running, first, you have to crank it hard and fast. Then it starts to run on its own. Every 48 hours, the iTunes algorithm runs a lookback function which basically takes a snapshot of your show’s progress. This snapshot measures changes in the number of reviews, ratings, downloads, and followers. This means that the initial 8-week period is where you have to dedicate your efforts to a steep climb in the numbers of followers, reviews and downloads. 

Being ‘noticed’ by the algorithm gets you into New and Noteworthy, and creates a positive feedback cycle. More people see your show, resulting in more subscribers, and your show stands a greater chance of continuing to run at a similar growth rate. Follow this pattern in the early days of your show and you’ll rank higher in New and Noteworthy. 

What does the iTunes algorithm look for?

Apple Algorithm

So, what exactly are the criteria for being noticed in the New And Noteworthy category on iTunes? The truth is that nobody except iTunes knows. Like Google, iTunes has never shown what’s going on under the hood of their magic search engine, so we aren’t able to say exactly which shows get picked and why. 

But it is just an algorithm, and so we can extrapolate patterns from successful podcasts. What we do know for sure is that the ranking criteria include variables like subscriber count, number and quality of ratings, number of reviews, and overall download (ie playback) numbers. These variables all get mixed together in the soup, and voila! If your show pleases the algorithm, it bumps you into New and Noteworthy. Occasionally, humans also manually override this automatic process and bump shows by celebrities, politicians, or predictably popular content creators.

Make a good (not average) podcast

Creating A Great Podcast

There are already way too many podcasters that are caught in the trap of thinking that a smartphone is all you need to make an adequate show. If you want to appear in New and Noteworthy, you need to get positive reviews. That means being competitive about your audio and show quality. Here’s how you can avoid looking and sounding like a newbie.

1: Make sure your cover art is high quality

The New and Noteworthy category is seen by thousands of people with expertly crafted cover art every day. We listen and think and make decisions with our eyes. Get good artwork. A cover image that’s easy on the eye, makes people want to click while also describing the show. Make it at least 3000px square, 72 dpi with RGB colours and save it as a JPEG.

2: Make the audio amazing

The audio needs to be more than amazing. It needs to be perfect. No sudden loud sounds, no piercing high frequencies, a smooth, warm tone and consistent volume levels. No background noises, no blaring music transitions, no gritty phone quality audio. If you aren’t 100% sure what you’re doing, it’s best to hire a professional podcast producer to get your show ready for New and Noteworthy.

3: Submit 3 episodes to start

It’s quite common to see brand new shows with three episodes released simultaneously instead of one. Releasing 3 episodes up front will give your new prospective listeners a chance to check out a range before subscribing. It also gives them a chance to click play 3 times instead of 1 during your 8-week launch period. When you launch, give listeners a chance to hear a few options while also giving the algorithm a chance to tally up a few additional plays. 

But remember that the algorithm will take your initial 3-episode download count as a baseline, so make sure that episode #4 has more plays than the first 3 combined or the system will say “Wait a minute! This show is getting less popular!” and will dilute the importance of your show. 

How to prepare for launch

Podcast Launch

Until we know exactly how the algorithm works, getting your show onto New and Noteworthy is a bit of a gamble. But as with gambling, there are ways to bring favour to your odds. Here are a few tricks for getting noticed by iTunes the moment you launch.

1: Pre-build a listenership before submitting your show to Apple Podcasts.

Downloads, ratings and reviews will come easier if there are people around to listen when you ask them to. Create your social media pages. Follow similar accounts. Engage with their followers. The goal here is a high number of early reviews. This will tell iTunes that you’re already popular and worthy of further promotion.

2: Create a website before you launch on Apple Podcasts.

Treat them like insiders and invite them to be a part of the journey. Collect their emails (with permission) when they land on your site, and promise them they’ll be notified when the show appears on iTunes. Having show notes and transcripts helps with your site’s SEO.

3: Make an appearance as a guest on other podcasts as a type of cross-promo.

Ensure that the host mentions your podcast website and links to it in the show notes. During the show, refer to your work and content in a way that makes listeners want to find out more. 

4: Don’t fake it!

Fake reviews are actually really easy for machine intelligence to pick out these days. Plus, it’s a violation of the iTunes terms of service. The temptation is real, and not going away. Just remember that if you’re banned, you have to start again from scratch. Avoid damage to your reputation, and earn the listeners’ trust by avoiding buying fake reviews.

5: Publish often and consistently.

The most important tool you have as a podcaster isn’t your mic or headphones. It’s your calendar. Both listeners and the iTunes algorithm want to see regular releases over time. This metric (time spent working on the show) is the most unhackable, unfakeable and legitimate aspect of your work as a podcaster. Maintain a schedule. Aim to publish once a week. Have a few backup episodes ready to publish in an emergency, should you be unable to do so for any reason.

Conclusion:

Getting into New and Noteworthy is certainly a great way to grow your listenership and build that community of people who would miss you if you were gone. Eventually, you’ll be able to monetize your show. Your brand value will increase dramatically with a hit podcast. It’s never guaranteed, but if you follow the guidelines above, you’ve got as good a shot as anyone to make it. Consider hiring Saw and Sine as your podcast production agency. Then go for it!

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