Friday, 16 January 2009

Inline MP3 Players In Show Notes

One area that's often missed by podcasters is the value of putting an inline (or "embedded") MP3 player on your show notes or blog site.

What do I mean by an inline MP3 player? Well, its a little player button that allows someone who has found your show notes, to take a listen to your show.

I suspect many of us assume that most of our listeners are just regular subscribers listening on their iPod. But, what about those folks who are maybe at work and want to listen via the web? They can click along to your blog or show notes page and listen whilst they work (or rather they can't if you don't provide a player).

Also, what about the folks who find your podcast via a search engine and fancy having a preview of your show?

The good news is that providing inline players is very easy (and free). Whilst you are generating your show notes, I strongly suggest that you make it part of your routine to put in some code at the end of each post to include an inline player.

Some podcast service providers will provide an inline player as part of their service - it may already be available as part of your package. But, if you use a separate web site for your show notes, or maybe you use a blog service, then you should seriously think about including a player.

There are 2 basic types of player :

  • A single episode player. This is usually placed at the end of each set of show notes that accompanies each episode

  • A multi-player episode player. This is usually a player that listens on the RSS feed of your podcast and allows access to every episode that is currently published on your podcast MP3 feed.
In this article, I'll focus on single episode players. I'll do a later article on multi-episode players.

The beauty of single episode players is that they appear no matter where someone may stumble upon you show. You never know where your feed may get published or aggregated these days. A player means that if some finds your show notes, they can take a listen.

OK, down to business. The first thing I must mention up front is that this only works if your podcast episodes are published in MP3 format. Any other format just will not work - sorry. To be honest, I would only advise publishing in MP3 format generally anyhow, to maximize the number of people in your audience who will be able to listen to your shows.


The first player I'd like to mention is the PodcastPickle single-episode player. It is available from the podcast pickle site, and is incredibly easy to configure and use.

If you go along to the PodcastPickle site (http://podcastpickle.com/app/player/get_code.php?style=1), you can simply type the URL of the MP3 file for your podcast episode in to the form that is presented on their site :




I personally prefer the compact player, but you can decide for yourself. So, all I do is enter the URL of the MP3 for the show I am publishing and select the compact player. Note that you probably don't want to select the 'Instantly Load Media' as this will start the player as soon as your web page loads, which can be very annoying.

Also, note that the background image of the player has to be set to a suitable value (#FFFFFF is white, #000000 is black):




Once you have entered the request information, you will be presented with a box where you can copy the code that you need to put in to your show notes post:




The best way to copy the code is to highlight everything in the box, and then either select 'Edit > Copy' from your browser menu bar. Or, alternatively (on a PC), hit Ctrl-c to copy the selected text in to your clipboard.

Next, you need to open your show notes page (or post) and make sure you are editing in html mode. Then paste the code at the end of your post. In your browser, select 'Edit > Paste', or just hit Ctrl-v if you are using a PC.

If you now save your show notes post and take a look at it, you will hopefully see a small player like this one :


By clicking the play button, you should be able to listen to podcast that your post in talking about.


An alternative to the Podcast Pickle player is the Podbean single episode player. To use this player, you have to be a member of Podbean, but it's free to join, and they give you some (limited) free podcast hosting if you fancy a play with podcasting.

The main draw back of this player is that it is available with only a black or white background.

The process to create a single episode player is very similar to the PodcastPickle player. First of all, select your style of player :



Next, give it a title and the URL of the MP3 file you wish to appear in the player. Note, you probaby don't want to select the 'Autostart: yes' option, as it may get very annoying for visitors to your site:


Finally, select the generated code for your player. When I was trying this out, it was quite difficult, as the box containing the code was very small. If you click in the box, and hit Ctrl-a, you will make sure you select all of the code:


As before, copy the code in to your clipboard and paste it at the end of yoru show-notes post.

You should end up with a player like this:







Powered by Podbean.com

If you use Wordpress for your show notes, there is also a great single episode player that you must check out at : http://www.1pixelout.net/code/audio-player-wordpress-plugin/

This player is a Wordpress widget that you can easily embed in your posts. I won't go over the subject in detail, but there are some great instructions at : http://www.1pixelout.net/code/audio-player-wordpress-plugin/

Well, that's about it for now. The only caveat I wil give you about using inline players is not to include too many players on a page. If you include too many, it may slow the loading time of your players. This is particularly applicable if you are using a blog for your show notes, and your home page shows your latest 20 posts. If you have 20 players on there, you may start to run in to issues.

Still, with a bit of experimentation, I'm sure you can figure out what works best for you.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Nigel - Here's a question for a entry...
    People struggle with the podcast images...
    How do you change your image on itunes?
    I changed mine in Libsyn but it doesn't seems to percolate thru to iTunes. Also the difference between episode specific images and the general image and album artwork...

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  2. Chris, I'll do an article about the iTunes image. A few people have asked about that.

    The episode-specific images podcast format is a proprietary format from Apple (I think), so limits your audience (non-MP3). But, I'll have a look in to it.

    Nigl.

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