I recently started a podcast with two of my friends called Beertastic Voyage. If you’re into beer check it out and let us know what you think. If you’re not then you can read on about how useless iTunes is for the actual Podcasters.

To be fair iTunes isn’t useless. It allows anyone to freely distribute their audio clips to a very large audience of Apple users. What it doesn’t do is store your audio files or give you any stats at all. That’s right, no subscriber or download count. Not storing the audio files I totally understand, but not getting the stats!?! Going into this I didn’t event think it was possible I didn’t get at least one of those numbers from them.

For storage I chose to use Amazon S3 since it’s way cheaper than hosting space and bandwidth. It also allows a logging feature which can be used to track access to the MP3 files we are storing there. Those log files are stored as XML. One file per access attempt. Amazon does not offer any built in way to aggregate and view the data. Since we barely have any listeners at this point, that leaves me with either writing my own solution or finding something inexpensive.

Not liking the idea of spending time my clients need on writing a solution for this I took to Google. There are a few options I found but when I stumbled upon S3Stat.com I was impressed. Not only will they aggregate the data and tell me how many times the files are accessed they will also give me daily and weekly averages. Tons of other helpful stats are assembled from the S3 logs:

  • Browsers that access the files: This is helpful to see what products are being used to listen to the podcast. We offer it on iTunes, RSS and through the website.
  • Download locations: We talk mostly about local beers but it is interesting to see where our listeners are.
  • Download errors: I posted a file live but forgot to allow permissions for anyone to download it from S3. Seeing the error logs here allowed me to catch the issue early.
  • A bunch more: I mentioned those that have been important to me but there are many other features you should check out.

The most amazing part is that they have allowed me to use it for free. That’s right, FREE. If you are interested in using the service check out the S3Stat Cheap Bastard Plan. You won’t be sorry.