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Creating Podcasts for iTunes

Apple's iTunes is the most popular audio and video podcast aggregator. If you want to add your feed to iTunes so that your content is available through the iTunes Music Store, you can adapt the RSS feed that you created with the instructions on pages 379385 by including iTunes special elements to describe your data.

You'll first prepare your RSS feed for iTunes, and then add the individual iTunes elements (as described on the following pages).

Figure 25.12. By specifying the iTunes namespace, you enable the RSS feed to include the special iTunes elementsand still validate.

To prepare your RSS feed for iTunes elements:

Within the rss element, specify the iTunes namespace by adding xmlns:itunes="".


  • Remember: a podcast is nothing more than an RSS feed with multimedia enclosures. The iTunes tags are optional, though they do describe your podcast more fully in iTunes itself.

  • Podcasts on iTunes are currently free.

  • Namespaces let you add extensions onto RSS without changing RSS itself. There are several different namespaces that are commonly used with RSS, including iTunes and the RSS Media Module (, which is used for Flickr's photo RSS feeds), among others.

  • For more information about namespaces, you might like to consult my book on XML: XML for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide, published by Peachpit Press.

Although RSS already has ways of specifying the owner and technical lead on a podcast, iTunes prefers you to use its own tags.

To add contact information about yourself for Apple:

After the initial channel element at the top of your RSS feed, type <itunes:owner>.

Next, type <itunes:name>you </itunes:name>, where you is your name.

Type <itunes:email>your email </itunes:email>, where your email is the address where you would like Apple to contact you if they have any trouble with your podcast or any news to relate.

Type </itunes:owner> to complete the contact information.


  • For example, when you submit a podcast to iTunes, Apple will send you an email letting you know whether or not it was accepted.

  • In addition, if Apple changes the specifications for iTunes RSS elements, they will notify you at the address you give in the itunes:email element.

  • The information enclosed in the itunes:owner element is not visible in iTunes. However, it is not private, since anyone can look at the source code of the XML document if they wanted to.

    Figure 25.13. Information in the itunes:owner element is used by Apple to get in touch with the creator of the podcast.

The next section of iTunes elements are those that describe your podcast as a whole. They are used in podcast's main window on iTunes to tell what your podcast is about.

To add information about your podcast:

Add the following elements to the channel element to describe your podcast further in iTunes: (Use the <tag> content</tag> syntax except for itunes:image which is a single tag that ends in />.)

Type <itunes:image href="url" /> to specify the URL of a square image to be used as the cover art for your podcast in iTunes.

Figure 25.14. The order in which the individual iTunes elements appear does not matter as long as they come after the initial channel element and before the first item.

Use the <itunes:author> element to specify the name that should appear below your podcast's title.

Use the <itunes:summary> element to specify what should appear in the Podcast Description area.

Use <itunes:keywords> to specify up to 12 words that describe the content of your podcast and that prospective visitors might type when looking for you.

Use the <itunes:category> element to list up to three categories so that iTunes can group your podcast with others that are similar. Each category may contain an optional subcategory, also specified with the <itunes:category> element.

Use <itunes:explicit> to note whether the podcast has explicit language (use yes if so), is free of explicit language (use clean), or is not rated (use no or omit the itunes:explicit element altogether).


  • If you say your podcast has explicit language, a small explicit icon () will appear next to its name in the Name column as well as next to the cover artwork in the iTunes Music Store.

    Figure 25.15. Here is how iTunes displays the podcast when it comes up in search results. Notice how it displays a reduced version of the cover art specified with the itunes:image element, and then on the right, the contents of the title, itunes:author, and first itunes:category elements.

  • Only use the official categories listed on Apple's site:

  • You can also add <itunes:block>yes </itunes:block> to completely block a podcast from appearing in the iTunes Music Store, although it probably makes more sense when used to block individual episodes (see page 391).

    Figure 25.16. When a prospective visitor clicks on your podcast's cover art, they see your podcast's description page. The cover art is shown full size, the title, itunes:author, first itunes:category, and language elements are shown to the right as before. Under Podcast Description you'll see the contents of the itunes:summary element. The URL in the link element is used for the Website arrow button. And the podcast's items will be shown in the list below.

  • Although none of the iTunes tags are required for the podcast to appear in the iTunes Music Store, they are required if you want to be featured on the iTunes Home Page.

  • Note that iTunes uses the value of the regular RSS title, link, and language elements to advise prospective viewers of your podcast's title, URL, and language, respectively.

You can use iTunes' special RSS elements to give information about your podcast's individual episodes.

To describe individual episodes:

Within the item element of the episode in question (in <tag>content</tag> format):

Use <itunes:author> to denote the person who created the particular episode. This name will appear in the Artist column.

Use <itunes:subtitle> to give a short description for the episode. It will appear in the Description column.

Use <itunes:duration> to specify how long the episode lasts, in one of the following formats: HH:MM:SS, H:MM:SS, MM:SS, or M:SS.

Use <itunes:keywords> to specify up to 12 keywords that are specific to this particular episode, and not necessarily to the podcast as a whole.

Figure 25.17. There are a few special tags for describing individual episodes of a podcast in iTunes.


  • New episodes appear in iTunes in order of their publication date (as specified in the pubDate element), not in the order in which they appear in the RSS feed.

  • The contents of the title element for an item is used in the Podcast column in the iTunes list (Figure 25.18).

    Figure 25.18. The itunes:subtitle is used in the Description column. The itunes:duration element is used in the Time column, and the pubDate is used for the Release Date column. Although the Artist column is not shown by default for podcasts, the itunes:author element would appear there if the user chose to show it. The itunes:author element also appears under the item's title element in the play box in the center top of the iTunes window (alternately with the podcast's title).

  • The image in the itunes:image element applies to the entire podcast, not specific episodes. You can add images to individual MP3 podcast episodes (but not video ones). Select the podcast in iTunes, choose Get Info, click the Artwork tab and then click the Add button. Choose the desired JPEG image and then save the changes. Then make sure it is this MP3 file that you upload for your podcast.

  • The contents of the description element within an item element will appear when a visitor clicks the circled i () in the Description column (which rather confusingly contains what's in itunes: subtitle, not what's in description) in the iTunes list. You can also use <itunes:summary> for containing the circled-i information, but I prefer using the more standard description element which will also be understood by other aggregators.

  • The contents of the pubDate element is used in the Release Date column in the iTunes list.

  • You can add <itunes:block>yes </itunes:block> to keep an individual explicit episode from appearing in iTunes, perhaps to avoid getting your entire podcast removed.

  • You can add <itunes:explicit>yes </itunes:explicit> to individual episodes to alert potential viewers of their content.

    Figure 25.19. When a visitor clicks the circled i to the right of the itunes:subtitle content in the Description column, the Podcast Information box appears with the channel element's title, the item's title, and the item's description element.

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