Apple’s Podcasts redesign includes a new paid podcast subscriptions feature – here’s how it works.
Digital Music News has been tracking this rumored feature very closely for about six months now. Recently, Apple changed the verbiage in the podcasts app to ‘follow‘ from ‘subscribe.’ That’s because most people in the US associate the word subscribe with a fee.
Now in Apple Podcasts, you can follow a podcast for free. Or you can subscribe to a creator using Apple Podcasts subscriptions. Tim Cook rightly notes this is the “biggest change to Apple Podcasts since its debut.”
Apple’s paid podcast subscriptions appear to work more like the Patreon model than Spotify’s rumored model. Creators are free to offer their own terms as part of the subscription with features like ad-free listening, bonus episodes, archive access, or other features. That’s similar to some of the perks that many podcast creators offer on platforms like Patreon.
Apple’s Paid Podcast Subscriptions – What Creators Need to Know
Shows in the redesigned Apple Podcasts can be fully free or paid, or a hybrid ‘freemium’ model. That includes a mix of free content that rotates and the ability to upgrade to a subscription to access everything. Pricing for Apple’s paid podcast subscriptions starts around $0.49/month in the US.
Apple will take a 30% cut of podcasters’ revenue for year one, which drops to 15% in year two. That’s the same revenue model Apple offers for its streaming services and other subscription products. Apple also isn’t forcing any sort of exclusivity agreement for its podcast subscription product. That means a paid podcast on Apple Podcasts could potentially be free on Spotify with ads.
Apple is also not selling ads for podcasters, unlike Spotify. Creators will keep 100% of any ad revenue they generate using Apple podcasts. It’s also anonymizing its analytical data, so podcast creators won’t be able to see Apple IDs and associated emails. That anonymized data includes metrics like ‘most engaged listeners’ and ‘top cities,’ which may help creators tailor their podcasts for their audience.
Apple is offering an a la carte model for individual podcasts or a subscription group called Channels.
Paid podcast service Luminary is a channel, and podcast networks like Radiotopia can also be Channels. Channels can be free, paid, or freemium at the creator’s discretion. Channels can also have defined country-by-country availability and local pricing.
One thing to note – subscription content is uploaded using Apple Podcasts Connect, not RSS. That’s much more similar to how Spotify operates than the do-it-yourself model current podcasting is based on. Apple’s podcast hosting service requires .WAV or .FLAC files.