Big Contact Help

  1. Is Big Contact free?
  2. Do you host audio and video files?
  3. What media formats do you accept & where do I find encoders?
  4. How do I change the design of the Big Contact media website?
  5. What kind of custom services do you offer?
  6. How do I get my Big Contact media channel on www.MySite.com?
  7. I want to promote my music with Big Contact
  8. What bit rate and sampling rates do your suggest for my mp3s?


Feed Player Help

  1. I want to edit how my Feed Player displays and plays (which window to display or whether it plays automatically)
  2. I want to have a button or link on my site that, when clicked, opens up a small browser window with my Feed Player playing.
  3. Audio sounds like the Chipmunks or sounds suuuper slow
  4. My Feed Player requires users to "click to activiate plug-in" in Internet Explorer
  5. My Feed Player says "XML not found" or is blank
  6. The audio or video title displays in the playlist but won't play
  7. What are the features of the Feed Player player?
  8. My Feed Player starts to load, the loading animation spins, but it doesn't complete loading
  9. I'm having trouble claiming my feed in order to get my Feed Player stats
  10. I have an ad-blocker plugin in my browser that is causing conflicts
  11. I'm having issues getting my Feed Player onto my WordPress, MoveableType or other blog


Help With Submitting Your Podcast To Apple iTunes

This info was current from Apple as of July 7th, 2009. Find the latest information on Apple's website here.

  1. Why would I want to submit my podcast(s) to the iTunes podcast directory?
  2. Do I need to submit my podcast to iTunes myself or is it submitted automatically?
  3. How do I submit my podcast?
  4. Can I submit a test feed?
  5. I submitted my podcast, but I can’t find it in the iTunes Store.
  6. Why do I need good metadata?
  7. Why do I need cover art?
  8. Why was my podcast removed or not approved?
  9. Can I have a review removed?
  10. Does iTunes allow podcasts containing advertising or sponsorship?
  11. Can I sell my podcast in the iTunes Store?
  12. Do I need an iTunes account to submit a podcast?
  13. How do I determine the number of subscribers to my podcast?
  14. Can I earn money by linking to the iTunes Store?
  15. How can I create a page within iTunes that aggregates my podcasts?



Big Contact Help


Is Big Contact free?

Yes, the Big Contact and Feed Player services are free. You can create an account right now for free and, as long as you host your mp3 or flv video files somewhere, you can have a customizable media website, podcast feeds and viral Feed Players - instantly and for free. You can also create as many channels as you like.

If you already have an external podcast you can get free Feed Players with stats that will play your 'casts. Create an account.

We also offer additional services, including custom services, for a fee. Learn more.

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Do you host audio and video files?

Big Contact does not host audio and video files. You can host your media anywhere you like: with your current website host, Amazon's S3 "pay-as-you-go" hosting or the many web hosting services out there. The only requirement is that they allow direct linking. This means that they allow a link that goes directly to the audio or video file you uploaded, not a web page or some other means to prevent other applications from using that file.

Unlike some services that trade the rights of your media for free hosting, require intrusive ads or narrowly define the type of content they allow on their service Big Contact allows you COMPLETE control of your media. Because YOU host it.

Want some help in consideraing hosts? Read more on our media & hosting page. Top

What media formats do you accept & where do I find encoders?

Big Contact can create a separate feed for each of the following formats. Big Contact does not host media files. See hosting info in the answer above.

Audio (both podcasts & online streaming Feed Players): MP3 (More on sampling & bit rates)

Video for online streaming Feed Players: The Feed Players now accept your existing video podcast feeds. If you are creating video podcasts that iPods can consume (H.264 encoded as described below) the Feed Player will play those podcasts. Also: Adobe Flash's video format: FLV. An encoder comes with Adobe's Flash or free for PC: Riva, SoThink & free for Mac: ffmpegX (also encodes h.264). Or search online for many more available.

Video for podcasts: MP4 with H.264 encoding (.m4v or .mp4 may be the most common extension) More info on Apple's site. Though this is a link to Apple's site, mp4s are not Apple technology. Many non-Apple devices accept MP4 format as well. In fact, Adobe's Flash is moving toward the acceptance of this format as well which may mean eventually solely using mp4's for both podcasts and online streaming through Flash.

High Def large video for podcasts: Same as MP4 with H.264 encoding above but with larger dimensions. See Apple link above.

Small audio and video files for some cell phones: 3GP, though acceptance may be fading as more phones accept mp3 and mp4 formats.

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How do I change the design of the Big Contact media website?

To edit your media site choose the channel you want to edit. Then, at the left click "Website style."

You can edit anything and everything on your media site. You can edit the html, css styles, and database information (seen as %something%). If you want to add image files such as gifs, jpgs and pngs you will need to host them on another server.

We highly suggest that you copy the text in the form field and paste it to a text application like Notepad on your local computer. This way you can edit and test locally and you can have a local copy for safe keeping. Name it template.html and you can drag it into a browser like Firefox and get a good idea what your design will look like. This is helpful during testing. You can also edit this file in html applications like Dreamweaver.

The default Big Contact templates that your blog starts with use table-less, css design. If you are not familiar with this type of design it may take a little while to get the hang of, but it is very powerfull. Roughly speaking the html part of the design is where the data resides, structured, but without style. All style then comes from the css - including where the data is positioned on the screen.

The following are great resources for css/xhtml:

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What kind of custom services do you offer?

We offer custom services based on Big Contact's unique publishing platform. We have packages for custom Feed Players as well as custom title & end videos helping you brand your video channel content. We also offer professionally-designed, complete, turn-key, multichannel, multimedia, viral-Feed Player-enabled websites custom designed for your brand.

Packages are aggressively priced and start at only $299. Find out more.

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How do I get my Big Contact media channel on www.MySite.com?

Ask us about our unique Relay Suite which puts everything you create on Big Contact onto www.YourSite.com. There are no databases to set up and no passwords to hand over. Have a fully functioning media site on your domain in a matter of seconds. While you use the same publisher tools on BigContact.com you use now, your resulting media website with full archive, commenting functionality, and Feed Players all display on www.YourSite.com.

There is a low set up and monthly fee for this service. Find out more.

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I want to promote my music with Big Contact

If you don't already have an account create one here. If you are a band make sure you create a Band channel. If you are a music label create a Standard channel. If you are both a band and a music label create a channel for each.

When you add your mp3 music to your channel you are creating an mp3 blog, a podcast, a streaming audio channel and a viral audio player all at once. You can also choose to share your mp3s with other publishers who can help you spread your music even further. When adding your mp3s choose the "Share" rights at the bottom of the post page. But the choice is yours alone.

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What bit rate and sampling rates do your suggest for my mp3s?

Bit rate: the higher the bit rate the higher the sound quality but the larger the file size and the longer to start to stream or download. For talkshow podcasts a bit rate of as low as 64k may sound ok. For music podcasts 128k should provide plenty of quality.

Sampling rate: Sampling rates other than 11k, 22k or 44.1k will force Adobe's Flash players to play your audio slower or faster than it should. We suggest a sampling rate of 44.1k (a cd's sampling rate) - don't use the Sampling Rate to change your file size. Adjust the Bit Rate mentioned above to adjust the file size. Click here for more info on this including how to edit your bit and sampling rates.

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Feed Player Help



I want to edit how my Feed Player audio player displays and plays

You can change how the latest generation Feed Player displays and plays on your website. Below are various preferences you can set. View the last section below in this series to see how to insert these variables into your html. Do you want more options than are listed here? Contact us

  • Initial View

    Determines which section shows when the player first loads
  • AutoPlay

    Determines whether the player will start to play when the player first loads


INITIAL VIEW

Tell Feed Player which tabbed window view to display when it first loads.

Window To Display FlashVar
Introduction
The introduction logo view: either Big Contact's logo or a custom logo if it's a custom Feed Player.
initialview=introduction
Shownotes / media info
Details about the current item in the playlist. This info comes from the "description" and other meta info you add to your item when you publish your channel in Big Contact. For non-Big Contact feeds the info in your feed's "description" tag displays here.
initialview=info
Playlist menu
The channel's playlist. Doesn't display for "indidvidual" Feed Players that play only one audio or video file.
initialview=menu
Share
Show the "share" section that allows people to help spread the player around the web.
initialview=share
Subscribe
Displays options allowing people to subscribe to the channel's podcast or news feed in iTunes and a number of other podcatchers and feed readers.
initialview=subscribe
Channel Info
Displays the channel's description and channel image. For non-Big Contact feeds it displays this info from your feed's channel image and channel description tags.
initialview=channel-info


AUTOPLAY

Tell Feed Player to start playing once your page loads.

Action Variable
Play when page loads autoplay=yes
Do NOT play when page loads (default) autoplay=no


HOW TO MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR HTML

Edit the variables you see above to the '<param name="FlashVars".../>' tag in your Feed Player embed code that you copied from www.BigContact.com. If your embed code doesn't have that tag you can add it. See below in bold.

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash"
...
<param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" />
<param name="FlashVars" value="initialview=info&autoplay=no"/>
...
<param name="movie" value="http://bigcontact.com/feed-player/myChannel/r:0;t:2000" /> </object>

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I want to have a button or link on my site that, when clicked, opens up a small browser window with my Feed Player playing.

On the page you want the link or button to show, add the html code below. Just change the 'http://yourpodcasturlhere.com' to the url of your podcast.

Example: Click For PopUp Feed Player or Use an Image Here

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Audio sounds like the Chipmunks or sounds suuuper slow

There are two numbers to be aware of when you are creating your mp3s: sampling rate and bit rate. The Feed Player, due to limitations of Adobe's Flash, only understands mp3s with sampling rates of 11k, 22k and 44.1k. We suggest a sampling rate of 22k or 44.1k (a cd's sampling rate). Other sampling rates will force the player to play your audio slower or faster than it should - thus producing either a sped-up sound or a super slow sound.

Click here for more info on suggested bit and sampling rates.

You should change these settings in the software you use to produce your podcast mp3s. Review your software's instructions on how to do this. An educated guess: try clicking on 'File' or 'Edit' and look for 'Preferences' or 'Options'. It probably will have a setting for 'Export Settings' or similar where you can adjust this info.

You can check your mp3 files' sampling and bit rates in iTunes among other applications. Play the mp3 in iTunes and right click (pc) or control click (mac) the track and 'Get Info.' The summary will show you your track's sampling and bit rates.

To change your existing mp3s to a different sampling and/or bit rate you can convert the file within iTunes if you like. Go to edit> preferences> audio. Select 'MP3 Encoder' and for 'Setting' select 'custom...' Change the settings you want (see first and second paragraphs above.) You may also want to click 'advanced' to see which folder on your computer iTunes will be storing your newly converted file. Click 'ok.' Next, right click (pc) or control click (mac) the track and selct 'Convert Selection to Mp3.' Right click or control click the resulting track to open the file in its containing folder on your desktop.

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My Feed Player requires users to "click to activiate plug-in" in Internet Explorer

Because Microsoft lost a patent lawsuit Microsoft changed how Internet Explorer handles embeded objects like Flash and Quicktime. This does not prevent people from using the Feed Player. It can, however, be a small inconvenience for your audience. If you want your users to be able to immediately be able to interact with your Feed Player (versus having to click once to 'active' the Flash plug-in) there is a solution. This is completely optional.

Users of Big Contact's media site templates do not need to worry about this. The templates have this solution already implemented. If, however, you want to embed your Feed Player on other sites you own, read on.

The solution requires a javascript workaround for embeded objects like Flash swf and QuickTime movie files. Many consider this workaround from Deconcept as the best of breed for embedding Flash with javascript: http://blog.deconcept.com/swfobject.

Basically what it does is let javascript embed your swf rather than embed it directly with html. You put the js file the site provides you on your server. You then add different code in place of the html embed code.

This solution cannot be used for sites like MySpace.com that do not let you add javascript. Like other "mobile" Flash applications out there, Internet Explorer users on MySpace.com et. al. will have to click to activate the application.

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My Feed Player says "XML not found" or is blank

Possible issue 1: If your feed has A LOT of items/posts it may take the Feed Player a while to consume such a large feed. If so, your Feed Player should load once it's done bringing in the large feed. You can consider changing the amount of items in your feed. If you are using a Big Contact-created feed/podcast you can change how many items display in your feeds in the "Maximum Number of Entries to Display" section. If, on the other hand, you are using a non-Big Contact-created, external feed/podcast you can edit your feed/podcast with the software you use to create that file.

Possible issue 2: If you are using a non-Big Contact-created, external feed/podcast make sure it is a valid feed. This is a third party feed validator.

Possible issue 3: Your browser ad-blocking software may be causing conflicts with the Feed Player. See the ad-blocker plugin issue below.

If you are still having issues contact us. Make sure you give us the webpage url that your Feed Player is embedded on and your feed url (or Big Contact channel url) so that we may try to create the issue.

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The audio or video title displays in the playlist but won't play

Possible issue 1: Make sure that the media is an mp3 or an flv Flash video file.

Possible issue 2: Make sure that the url to that file works. The easiest way to do this is to copy the url and put it into your browser url window just as if it were a website address - and "visit" that url. If you see an error message it means that there is something wrong with your url or with the file you have hosted.

Possible issue 3: If you are using a non-Big Contact-created, external feed, make sure that the media is contained within the "<enclosure>" tag.

Possible issue 4: The Feed Player accepts common mime-types in your <enclosure> tags. If your external feed uses an uncommon mime-type this could prevent the Feed Player form recognizing your content properly. Contact us and let us know so that we may see about adding that mime-type.

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What are the features of the Feed Player player?

Visit our Feed Player section for more info.

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My Feed Player starts to load, the loading animation spins, but it doesn't complete loading

Possible issue 1: If your feed has A LOT of items/posts it may take the Feed Player a while to consume such a large feed. If so, your Feed Player should load once it's done bringing in the large feed. You can consider changing the amount of items in your feed. If you are using a Big Contact-created feed/podcast you can change how many items display in your feeds in the "Maximum Number of Entries to Display" section. If, on the other hand, you are using a non-Big Contact-created, external feed/podcast you can edit your feed/podcast with the software you use to create that file.

Possible issue 2: If you are using a non-Big Contact-created, external feed/podcast make sure it is a valid feed. This is a third party feed validator.

Possible issue 3: Your browser ad-blocking software may be causing conflicts with the Feed Player. See the ad-blocker plugin issue below.

If you are still having issues contact us. Make sure you give us the webpage url that your Feed Player is embedded on and your feed url (or Big Contact channel url) so that we may try to create the issue.

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I'm having trouble claiming my feed in order to get my Feed Player stats

Confirm that you followed the steps:

  1. 1) You imported your valid feed/podcast into Big Contact.
  2. 2) After Big Contact completes this importing process it will create a link on your "Publish" dashboard with the name of your feed/podcast. You clicked this link to get into its section.
  3. 3) You clicked the stats link and saw the code.
  4. 4) You put that temporary code into your feed (either by publishing a new post with that code in the body of the post or by some other means) and published your feed.
  5. 5) You then clicked the "claim it" button on that same stats page.

If you did the steps mentioned above and still are having problems: confirm that the code has indeed been added to your feed. Put your feed url in a browser window and view it. Depending on which browser you use and how it displays feeds, you should be able to see your post with that code. If not: A) your feed-creating software may not have added your new post with the code or B) if you are using a middleman service like Feedburner, they may not have updated your feed yet. You can "ping" them to make sure your Feedburner feed has the latest version of your original feed."

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I have an ad-blocker plugin in my browser that is causing conflicts

"I use the Adblock add-on in my Firefox browser." We have heard one instance where even when the Adblock add-on was in "disabled" mode (go into the Adblock preferences or right click on the icon on the taskbar) to disable it: the add-on was still disabling the Flash-based Feed Player. The user solved the issue by disabling the add-on itself in the tools>add-ons menu of Firefox. This seems to have been an issue with the Adblock ad-on and we are contacting them for further info.

If you use any adblocking software it may turn off all Flash apps on the webpages you visit. Try disabling the adblocking plugins in your browser preferences or settings.

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I'm having issues getting my Feed Player onto my WordPress, MoveableType or other blog

It is recommended to use the "View Html" or "View Soucre" setting when adding the Feed Player's html embed code to your blog.

There has also been an instance reported where if the Feed Player's embed code isn't one long line of code, ie, if the html code has 'carriage returns' or line breaks, that the blog software interprets this as a new paragraph and inserts html code that shouldn't be inserted inside the Feed Player code. One solution: make sure your Feed Player is one long line of html code. Our forms that let you copy this embed code should all be set up this way. But you can always check, if you like, by pasting hte embed code into a text editor program.

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Help With Submitting Your Podcast To Apple iTunes



Find the latest information on Apple's website here.

Why would I want to submit my podcast(s) to the iTunes podcast directory?

Your podcast(s) would be added to the podcast directory of the Apple iTunes & Apple TV applications, applications with an estimated combined 10 million + users. Users can search or browse within iTunes and Apple TV, discover your podcast, stream your podcast or subscribe to your podcast within those applications.

 

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Do I need to submit my podcast to iTunes myself or is it submitted automatically?

Apple requires podcast owners to sumbit their podcast to iTunes themselves. You can do it via your iTunes application. You need an iTunes account. View the help item "How do I submit my podcast?" (jump there) below to submit your podcast.

 

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How do I submit my podcast?

Submit your podcast feed URL (see below for explanation) to the iTunes Store here.

You can also add your podcast by going to the iTunes Store within your iTunes application, navigating to the Podcasts directory, and clicking on the Submit a Podcast link.

The terms and conditions of podcast directory are covered by your iTunes Store account. As a result, you must be logged into an iTunes account in order to submit a podcast.

What is "your podcast feed URL"? Your channel podcast url is this:
http://bigcontact.com/[YourChannelIdHere]/rss.
This will have the latest audio and video podcasts you publish on this feed.

While this url should work best for most cases, alternatively, if you would rather have separate media podcasts, one for audio and one for video, you can use these podcast urls:
For audio only: http://bigcontact.com/[YourChannelIdHere]/rssaudio
For video only: http://bigcontact.com/[YourChannelIdHere]/rssvideo .

You can always find these links on your channel's My Feeds & Podcasts page.

 

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Can I submit a test feed?

iTunes does not accept test podcast feeds. Please test your feed by opening iTunes, clicking the Advanced menu, and selecting “Subscribe to Podcast…” To diagnose problems with your feed, we also recommend Feed Validator.

 

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I submitted my podcast, but I can’t find it in the iTunes Store.

After you successfully submit your podcast, a confirmation email is sent to the email associated with your iTunes account. Your podcast is reviewed by iTunes staff before it goes live in the iTunes Store. If it is approved, you will receive another email, which includes a link to your podcast. The link works immediately, but your podcast is not immediately searchable. The iTunes Store servers must first index your podcast, a process which can take up to 24 hours.

 

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Why do I need good metadata?

You need good metadata so people can find your podcast and decide whether or not to subscribe to it.

Your podcast’s metadata includes all of the information that describes your podcast for the potential subscriber, as well as for the iTunes search and browse infrastructure. The podcast’s category and subcategory determine where the podcast will appear in the browse tree. The title, author, description, and (up to 12) keywords are indexed by the iTunes search engine and used to determine relevance when compared with terms entered by the user in the Search iTunes Store box. A high percentage of users look for podcasts via search. If you don’t have good, robust metadata, your podcast will not turn up in many searches. And when users do find your podcast, they may not have enough information to decide whether to subscribe.

Your podcast must have robust metadata to be eligible for featuring on the Podcast main page or the Store main page.

For those using Big Contact to create your podcast make sure you correctly and complelety fill out your channel settings page with info that describes your content well. This includes adding a category, tags (keywords), and good titles and descriptions that describe your podcast accurately as well as uses relevant keywords.

 

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Why do I need cover art?

Attractive and interesting cover art attracts new subscribers to your podcast. Podcasts must have good cover art to be featured on the Podcast main page or the Store main page. Most good podcast images include an image as well as a title, brand, or source name. A 300x300-pixel JPG is the recommended size and format. Using this relatively large format, the iTunes Store automatically generates the various smaller images you see in the podcast directory. Before you settle on the art for your podcast, you may want to review the Top Podcasts page and note the various elements that contribute to compelling art.

To add cover art to your Big Contact channel visit your channel's channel settings page and ad the link to your image there.

 

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Why was my podcast removed or not approved?

Unauthorized copyrighted material, erotica, illegal solicitations, and hate speech are prohibited in the iTunes Store. Podcasts with no episodes will be removed. Podcasts with no recent episodes can remain in iTunes but may disappear from some areas.

 

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Can I have a review removed?

iTunes does not remove reviews for editorial purposes. Reviews with profanity, hate speech, explicit/pornographic content, or commentary that is completely off topic are prohibited. To request removal of a review, click on Report a Concern for that review.

 

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Does iTunes allow podcasts containing advertising or sponsorship?

Yes.

 

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Can I sell my podcast in the iTunes Store?

No. Podcasts can not be sold via the iTunes Store. Podcasts requiring an external user name or password are prohibited.

 

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Do I need an iTunes account to submit a podcast?

Yes. You must sign in with a valid iTunes Store account to submit a podcast. Your account will not be charged.

 

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How do I determine the number of subscribers to my podcast?

Podcasts are hosted on your server or a 3rd party you designate. The iTunes store is acting as a directory, similar in function to a web directory. Furthermore, the iTunes client application does not report podcast download or unsubscribe information to the iTunes Store or any third party. Consequently, the iTunes Store does not provide subscription or download figures.

When selecting or setting up a host for your podcast, be sure that you have access to server logs or some other way to monitor the number of times each podcast episode has been downloaded.

Big Contact offers it's best estimation of the number of subscribers from iTunes (and other applications) but because Apple does not provide exact numbers these estimations are not exact. The best source of information for the number of people accessing your episodes is to look at the stats of the mp3 or mp4 files you are podcasting offered by the server hosting those files.

 

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Can I earn money by linking to the iTunes Store?

Yes. You can earn a commission on sales of songs, movies, tv shows and audiobooks purchased by customers who linked to the iTunes Store from your web site — even when your link leads to a free podcast. When you sign up as an iTunes Affiliate, you are given an affiliate tag to embed in your web links. When users click on these links, a session variable is set in their iTunes client application, and anything they purchase in the next 24 hours is credited to your affiliate account. The iTunes Affiliate program is available in select countries.

 

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How can I create a page within iTunes that aggregates my podcasts?

If you have multiple podcasts listed in the iTunes Store, the iTunes staff can create a single page that lists all of them in one place. We call this page an “artist page.” Note that a podcast can only appear on one artist page.

To request an artist page, navigate to one of your podcasts, click on Report a Concern, and select Remove a Podcast. In the dialog box, explain that you would like an artist page, give us the exact name of the artist (please don’t include “Inc,” “LLC,” etc.), and list the exact feed URLs or links to your podcasts.

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Ask About Our Custom Services

Big Contact offers a range of custom services built on our unique publishing platform. Get your professional media operation up and making contact immediately.



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