Today’s post is specific to anyone starting with or considering using Amazon S3 for your podcast audio storage. We look at two issues you may come across.
- Your audio is not playing on your WordPress site.
- Using PowerPress plugin and when verifying the media, you get the error message: Media URL contains characters that may cause problems for some clients. For maximum compatibility, only use letters, numbers, dash – and underscore _ characters only.
When it comes to your podcast audio files, you have several options. Some people may choose to actually host them on their own server, but often that is not the best route to go because:
- It may cause a strain on your server and your host may require you to up your bandwidth, which, of course, means additional charges.
- If your site goes down, you are in trouble, but if you host your podcast somewhere else, you can always push people there to listen.
Now there are actually hosting services for podcasts, such as Libsyn or Blurbrry Hosting. Myself, I am using Blubrry but in the past I have used Amazon S3 to store my files. Here is what I discovered.
What About Amazon S3?
This is where I kept my audio files and streamed them into our site, using both the Blubrry plugin and the Smart Podcast Player plugin. It was easy to upload files there, very affordable and, well, I had never had a connection issue with them. Of course, many people use S3 for various files storage needs. I chose it for our podcasts at that time.
The First Thing I Learned with Amazon S3
This should be something that is common sense, but if you aren’t aware of it, your podcast will not play nor can it be downloaded.
Right after uploading a file, you you will get this next screen. At this point, you will select permissions. As you can see by default you will have all the permissions for your own needs. But if you are going to embed this into a post on your site, you will need to select the grant public read access to this object(s) under the manage public permissions. If you don’t, the audio file will not play on your site or anywhere else you share or embed it.
The Second Part: S3 Files and the Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin
If you throw the PowerPress Podcasting plugin into the mix, here’s another thing that can go wonky on you.
Let’s say you have this file that you created and it’s saved with spaces between the words. You upload it to your S3 account, find the URL and copy it.
Then you go into your post and paste it in your PowerPress settings and before you can even click Verify URL, you get this message:
Media URL contains characters that may cause problems for some clients. For maximum compatibility, only use letters, numbers, dash – and underscore _ characters only.
The problem is that Amazon S3 replaced the spaces in your file with “+” symbols, which are not allowed.
The natural inclination for many people is to fix the file then and there, not realizing that they are actually changing the URL, which results in this error:
The requested URL returned error: 403 Forbidden
Now the solution should be obvious, right? But let’s never assume that. Just remember that when you save the original file, and before uploading it to S3, make sure to use a dash or underscore to separate the words: BobWP-Monetizer-Podcast-Episode-13.mp3 or BobWP_Monetizer_Podcast_Episode_13.mp3
I hope if you go the route of S3, the first tip will help you and if you are using PowerPress, the second one will save you a few brief minutes of agony.