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Add chapters to your MP3 podcasts

February 8, 2018 at 7:29pm

Add chapters to your MP3 podcasts

February 8, 2018 at 7:29pm

Marco Arment (Overcast.fm) has a free tool for macOS https://overcast.fm/forecast


February 8, 2018 at 8:24pm

Do users actually use chapters often? We've had a couple people ask for chapters, but it's *very* few people. I honestly don't even know how to access them in a podcast app.

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I don't have anyone ask for them but I do enjoy them myself. It's perfectly suited for music podcasts. Since each chapter can have it's own album art and URL to the source material.

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My only wish is that I could generate them programatically. Would be so nice to avoid the manual work of using one of these tools.

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Interesting - hadn't thought of that. I listen to a lot of narrative stuff (The Adventure Zone is GOAT), or kinda "chatty" podcasts so that's not something i've looked for...

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It's definitely something I've thought about with the shows at Spec but the amount of work it would take with Forecast always turned me away from it...between the amount of folks who actually read the show notes and time it takes it never got anywhere past an afterthought.

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@sarah until there's more broad support in the podcast players out there (AFAIK no web player supports chapters), and I'm talking specifically to you Apple Podcasts, I don't see podcasters putting in the effort.

It's a shame because listening to any podcast when they say "Check this out in the show notes..." I bet the conversion is pretty low. Having chapter bookmarks with direct links, photos, etc would be super helpful.

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@nbashaw: do y'all use chapter markers?

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Chapters are good for things that need visual accompaniment (but can't swing video). I've got some friends that have experimented with the idea. IIRC, the Mac Power Users people use chapters for this exact purpose... Showcasing products or whatever. Could be an interesting value-add for those podcasts who have sponsors also.

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If you edit with Logic, just add markers as you go and name them. Forecast automatically detects them and populates it all.

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It’s really no extra effort, and as a user I love them.

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what app do you use Rafa?

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I’m a major proponent of chapter markers, they thoroughly improve the listening experience I think. The ability to easily skip to different parts of hour long shows is super helpful If the current topic is of little interest.

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Take Layout for example, they’ve clearly defined sections of the show which I often skip between. Something like Design Details or Does Not Compute are harder to have markers for due to the nature of the shows but could still be done.

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But granted I also read all the show

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notes and consumes over 50 podcasts so I’m a power user

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@bryn I used http://chaptersapp.com/ for the longest time and still recommend it. Now I’ve been using markers in Logic + Forecast. Still not completely sold.

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@rafa: i mean for consumption...

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> Chapter points authored by Forecast (which produces MP3) are only visible in two apps. Those two apps are responsible for just 6.2% of total podcast plays.

To get them into Apple Podcasts, you need to author them in M4A format: the app doesn't support chapters in MP3. Some podcast hosts automatically reformat podcasts in this way, but most don't. Even if you go to this bother, Apple Podcasts doesn't give any visual clues that you've added chapter points until you swipe down the page. It's doubtful that a typical listener will.

It's also worth mentioning that Apple Podcasts does not display any chapter points unless you subscribe to the podcast. Simply searching and selecting the podcast for playback does not display the chapter points. Edison Research says that the majority of users select a podcast for immediate playback, and do not subscribe.

Our recommendation? Spend your time on something else; chapter points have so little support that it's a waste of your time.

https://podnews.net/article/chapter-points-a-waste-of-time

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Oh wow, I didn't know that Apple Podcasts had chapter support via .m4a

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February 9, 2018 at 10:23am

I use Overcast, and for me as a listener chapters are very useful.

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Since they require pretty much no extra effort to add them to Layout, and we have way more subs in Overcast than Apple’s... it’s a no brainer. :)

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Pocketcasts also supports it 🙂

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I love it, I've been using it to add chapters to Dribbble's Overtime podcast (check this out in Overcast: https://overcast.fm/+FvIHWEOvU).

I wrote a tutorial here if you'd like to learn how to implement chapters into your podcast: https://medium.com/simplecast/forecast-by-marco-arment-what-it-is-how-it-works-and-why-podcasters-should-take-a-look-ba446ffa8a35

I've found it only adds about 15-30 minutes to the overall post-production process and it's such a nice value add for the listeners who use an app that shows chapters.

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February 12, 2018 at 2:15pm

And I'm really glad to know about Apple and MP4. Think maybe they'll update to support MP3 too if we ask them nicely?

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^probably not. :D as much as they own the volume of listening they don't seem to want to expand feature set, or even be a major vocal leader.

But you could keep bothering Steve – https://twitter.com/StephenWilson it seems like he's running the show.

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