Saturday, 17 January 2009

How to Add or Update Your Podcast Image in the iTunes Store

An updated version of this article is now available at my new site here.

One question I've been asked a number of times is "How do I change the image for my podcast that is displayed in the iTunes store?", or, "I don't have an image displayed for my podcast at the iTunes store, how do I add one?".

Well, the answer to this is all down to some special information that must be included in the RSS feed of your podcast.

The iTunes store gets all of the information about your podcast (e.g. name, episode info & logo image) from your RSS feed.

iTunes expects to see a number of iTunes-specific 'fields' of information in your RSS feed.

Without getting in to too much technical detail, your RSS feed is very much like a web page. If ever you've looked at the code that goes to make up a web page, you will see lots of 'tags', such as : <html>, <p>, <li> which all have special meaning to your browser to build up the structure of your page.

Your RSS feed is written in a very similar 'markup' language, but rather than being aimed at creating pages for web browsers, it is aimed at software applications that extract information from RSS feeds.

So, if you take a look at the code which goes to make up your podcast RSS feed, you will see some tags buried in there that tell the iTunes store (or any other RSS reader software) where it can find the logo image for your podcast.

The specific tag which tells iTunes where to find the image is the '<itunes:image>' tag.

Unless this tag is present, and it is pointing to the URL of your podcast logo image, then it won't be able to find your logo, and therefore can't show it in the iTunes store.

Here is an example to show you how this works. It is an extract from an RSS file, highlighting the <itunes:image> tag. The URL (i.e. the web location) of the image that will be used is : http://example.com/podcasts/everything/AllAboutEverything.jpg

Here is the extract from the RSS file:

<itunes:owner>
<itunes:name>John Doe</itunes:name>
<itunes:email>john.doe@example.com</itunes:email>
</itunes:owner>
<itunes:image href="http://example.com/podcasts/everything/AllAboutEverything.jpg" />
<itunes:category text="Technology">
<itunes:category text="Gadgets"/>
</itunes:category>
<itunes:category text="TV & Film"/>

You see that the <itunes:image> tag has the web address of the image to be used embedded in it :

<itunes:image href="http://example.com/podcasts/everything/AllAboutEverything.jpg" />

If your RSS feed is going to be able to tell iTunes where to find your logo, it must have an entry like this.

The question you may be asking is : "well, how do I get this tag into my RSS feed?".

The answer is that the service that creates your RSS feed must add this information in.

Personally, I use Feedburner to generate my final RSS feed, which has a setting that allows me to specify my logo URL specifically for iTunes. Here is a screen shot of the Feedburner configuration page for those who use Feedburner (click on it to zoom in):



Note that your image must already exist somewhere, so that you can tell Feedburner where it can find the image. You must have uploaded your image to somewhere (e.g. Google Photos) and have the URL of that image.

It is worth checking that your image is correctly configured by looking at the raw RSS feed using a browser , or you can look at the 'XML Source' if you are using Feedburner (click image below to zoom in). You need to check the information in the <itunes:image> tag :



If you want to look at the raw RSS feed, simply enter it in to the address bar of your browser, and you will hopefully see the RSS feed code, and will be able to check if your <itunes:image> tag is correct.

If you aren't using Feedburner, your podcast hosting provider will almost certainly be generating your RSS feed, which should include the correct tag to tell iTunes where your logo image is. If you aren't sure, check your raw RSS feed by typing the address of your RSS feed in to a browser and taking a look for it. Use the browser 'Edit > Search' feature to look for '<itunes:image'.

If you change your image at some stage and wish the new image to appear in the iTunes store, there are a couple of caveats :

  • You must change the name of your image file so that iTunes relaizes that there has been a change and will get your new image. You can't use the same image URL.
  • When you change the image, it may take a few days before it appears correctly in iTunes. So, if you make a change, check your raw RSS feed to make sure that the <itunes:image> tag now correctly points to your new image address, and then, be patient!
One final caveat to be aware of is that your image must be at least 600 x 600 pixels in size, and must be in jpg or png format. If you are using the incorrect format, that may be another reason why you are having issues.

Hopefully, this article has given you a few pointers to show you how to add or update the logo image for your podcast on the iTunes store.

If you need any more technical information about this subject, it is well worth checking Apple's own document on this subject at : http://www.apple.com/itunes/whatson/podcasts/specs.html

7 comments:

  1. good one, thank you!

    - DJ Anuj
    Boston, MA

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  2. That's where the logo image is hidden in Feedburner. Thanks a bunch! It's impossible to find on your own.

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  3. Feedburner did not work well for me - I got the podcast on itunes (pretty good gig) but no image, owner and some other info. For some reason Feedburner would not generate the correct code. I used Wordpress and the Podpress plugin eventually after trying a bunch of other stuff and now it is up with all but the image in search results - don't know why that is because the image shows up once the podcast is subscribed to.

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  4. Bill,

    What is your podcast RSS feed? I can take a look. Or, email me at nigelrunner@gmail.com.

    Nigel.

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  5. Thanks for the great instructions... It's wonderful to know that you can find so many answers to your challenges out there! Of course, I have just have to wait for itunes to pick up the change in Feedburner!

    Best regards from Paris. Minter

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  6. Thank you! This helped SO much!!!

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  7. thanks for posting. i couldn't find that for the life of me. finally got a picture up.

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