If you listen to podcasts, Player.fm might interest you if you want an easy way to both listen to your favourite shows and discover new ones.
Player.fm is a podcasting service in the cloud. You use it in your web browser – there are no apps to install, just an easy-to-use method to create a free account called a channel, add the RSS feed addresses of podcasts to your channel, save, and listen. You can also add iTunes feeds as well as import an OPML file you already have.
I’ve been podcasting for over seven years and listen to a lot of other podcasts. Typically, I subscribe to them and get the audio files usually from iTunes via an RSS reader. The old fashioned way! It’s cumbersome and often imperfect, though, and probably one reason why I don’t listen as much or as often as I’d like to.
What Player.fm offers is streaming audio on demand. It really is easy to set up and use as I discovered today. The screenshot above shows part of the channel I created that includes 14 business/communications podcasts that I listen to often:
- For Immediate Release (the podcast series I co-host with Shel Holtz)
- IABC Cafe2Go
- Inside PR
- Jaffe Juice
- Jay Baer’s Social Pros Podcast
- Marketing Edge from Provident Partners
- Marketing Over Coffee
- Media Bullseye
- On the Record…Online
- PR And Other Deadly Sins
- PRSA Voices of Public Relations
- Six Pixels of Separation
- Steve Lubetkin’s Professional Podcasts
- Trafcom News Podcast
(For information on each one, see “16 business podcasts worth listening to” that I wrote in March. And in case you’re wondering why this post lists only 14, it’s because 2 on the original list haven’t been updated this year, 1 is behind a subscriber paywall, and I’ve included FIR.)
If you want to enjoy seamless listening, without any fuss, then go to http://player.fm/jangles, my Player.fm channel, and click on the big ‘play’ button with each podcast. Or, if you prefer to subscribe, here are three handy options:
- OPML file that you can import into any other podcatcher including Google Reader
- RSS feed aggregating the latest episodes of all 14 podcasts
- iTunes link
As Player.fm developer Michael Mahemoff says in the FAQ:
Why play podcasts on a website?
Podcasts were originally designed to be downloaded, and that’s still worthwhile. But most podcast apps these days, including iTunes, provide the ability to stream content on demand. The nice thing about this is you can try a podcast a few times before subscribing to it. Player FM takes this a step further by letting you listen to podcasts without even downloading and installing an app. Even less friction for people getting into podcasts. Some publishers already provide their own interfaces to play podcasts, but the experience is different on every site and it’s not possible to listen to all of your favorite podcasts in one place. Many don’t provide play links at all, just offering a “Subscribe in iTunes” link. Player FM aims to make podcasts simple.
What if you want to listen on a device other than your desktop or laptop computer? Your mobile phone, for instance? (Does anyone still use an iPod or other dedicated MP3 player?)
The screenshot here shows my channel on my Samsung Galaxy SII Android smartphone. I bet it looks similar on an iPhone, a Windows phone and most other smartphones.
I think this is an especially useful feature that offers, again, ease of use with on-demand audio streaming via wifi or other network you connect to including cellular. No apps to install, just use your mobile browser.
And that highlights one issue to think about – connectivity.
If you have no network connection, then you have no podcasts to listen to.
Typically, I listen to podcasts either at my desk (so on a desktop computer with a wired internet connection) or in my car (usually streaming the content of the Pocket Casts app on my phone to my car radio using a Belkin Tunecast FM transmitter).
The latter use with Pocket Casts will let you stream over your cellular network connection or via wifi. But I prefer to have the podcast audio files on my mobile device, mostly for audio quality reasons (mobile networks tend to be iffy in terms of speed and stability especially when you’re moving), not to mention the relative high cost of streaming audio data on 3G if you don’t have an unlimited data plan.
Player.fm may well be developing an offline-listening choice, according to the FAQ:
[...] We don’t yet have offline support, and we know how much you want to play podcasts in the car, train, or gym, where you might not have internet access. Fixing this is definitely a priority for us.
In the meantime, if you want a frictionless listening experience from streaming on-demand audio with no fuss, and you have a network connection, Player.fm is a great option.