Apple launches podcast subscriptions next week, according to an email from Apple to podcasters obtained by The Verge. From June 15, you can pay to subscribe to selected shows and networks to receive content early and without advertising.
The podcast subscription service was announced at Apple’s Spring Loaded event back in April, with the first plans to launch in May. The launch was delayed so after problems with Apple Podcasts Connect, the analytics portal where podcasters submit shows for approval was discovered. Apple also noted that it would address a few other back-end issues, including “additional improvements” to the library interface.
The new service will let podcast hosts and networks set prices and benefits, including early and ad-free feeds, and offer bonus content. Of course, Apple will make some money on this, keeping 30% of the subscription fees the first year and 15% the following years. The tax cut after a few years is an incentive from Apple to get podcasters on board and keep them in the ecosystem.
Subscriptions have become an excellent way to support podcasters. Full disclosure: I am a podcaster, and host two shows on two podcast networks that offer ad-free levels. Services like Stitcher have been offering podcast memberships and bonus content with podcast networks like Earwolf for years, while Patreon seems to have pulled the feeds market just for fans.
Spotify too announced it will adopt paid podcast subscriptions, and it is already pushing through a set list of indie shows and upcoming titles from NPR. There is a waiting list available for podcasters, and Spotify does not take cuts for the first two years, even if you have to pay transaction fees. (Apple also charges an annual fee of $ 20.) Spotify’s solution does not allow people to subscribe to the app. Instead, it requires navigating to an external website on Anchor, the micropodcasting service it acquired in 2018.
The battle is on making money on podcasting and doing it in a way that makes it easy for people to click and pay. Apple’s in-app podcast subscription service is not the first to hit the market, but its existence helps normalize the idea of paying podcasters for content. It will be interesting to see if more independent creators flock to Spotify, which has pushed podcasts more deeply along with its algorithm-driven playlists. Or if Apple’s legacy as a podcast provider – it helped create the concept, right? – will make people stick to it because of the promise of better discoverability.