Apple builds business ecosystem for podcast publishers
As we had anticipated, Apple’s Spring Loaded event sees it share its business plan for subscription podcasts – and it’s a ‘global marketplace for listeners to discover premium subscriptions offered by their favourite creators alongside millions of free shows.”
What’s on offer?
When the service launches it will be possible to sign up for premium subscriptions that include a variety of benefits curated by creators, such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series.
In other words, what you get will vary depending on the person making the podcast. Apple has also created a new site for creators (see below).
“With Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, listeners gain a simple and intuitive way to support quality programming from newspapers, magazines, digital publishers, local radio stations, and more, directly from Apple Podcasts.”
When does it launch?
The service launches in over 170 countries and regions in May.
Content providers include independents and larger entities. Apple listed Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia from PRX, and QCODE, along with leading media and entertainment brands, including NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic, Sony Music Entertainment, and many more.
What about content providers?
The Apple Podcasters Program, which includes all of the tools (below) needed to offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts, is available to creators in over 170 countries and regions for £17.99 per year. Creators can enrol in the Apple Podcasters Program today through Apple Podcasts Connect.
What Apple said
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services says:
“Fifteen years ago, Apple took podcasts mainstream, offering creators a premier, open platform to inform, entertain, and inspire hundreds of millions of listeners around the world.
“Today, Apple Podcasts is the best place for listeners to discover and enjoy millions of great shows, and we are proud to lead the next chapter of podcasting with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. We’re excited to introduce this powerful new platform to creators around the world, and we can’t wait to hear what they make with it.”
Coming soon: Channels
Also next month, listeners will be able to discover channels, which are groups of shows curated by creators with unique titles, descriptions, and artwork.
Listeners will be able to browse free and paid channels.
And in iOS 14.5
With iOS 14.5, listeners can access a redesigned Apple Podcasts app featuring an enhanced Search tab that provides quick access to Top Charts and categories. Apple Podcasts also features beautiful new pages for every show and episode to make it easier to follow, listen, and share.
Apple introduces content management hub for podcasters
The new Apple Podcasts for Creators website helps creators learn more about podcasting, stay informed about the latest news and features, and explore in-depth guides with best practices.
Starting today, all creators can access an updated Apple Podcasts Connect dashboard, which has new features that make it easier to manage shows on Apple Podcasts, including the ability to edit metadata, schedule and manage show availability, organise shows into channels, manage multiple users and roles, and learn how listeners are engaging with their shows through new performance metrics and visualisation tools.
From Apple Podcasts Connect, creators can enrol in the new Apple Podcasters Program, which provides access to all the tools needed to build and distribute premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts.
What podcasters said
Apple published a series of comments from content cretors:
Imriel Morgan, founder and CEO of Content is Queen:
“We are always looking for ways to engage our community more directly, with inspiration and connection through our shows. The opportunity to invite our listeners on Apple Podcasts to become supporters in a simple, accessible way is transformative for our mission and our business.”
Donald Albright, president and co-founder of Tenderfoot TV:
“With TenderfootPlus+, we’re able to provide our listening community with even more of what they want — exclusive, early-access, and ad-free listening for our tentpole titles and new shows. Launching this subscription on Apple Podcasts, where the large majority of our listeners engages with us each week, makes it easy for the Tenderfoot audience to seamlessly upgrade to the best experience.”
Alex Mather, founder and CEO of The Athletic:
“Our team loves bringing deeply immersive storytelling to maniacal sports fans around the world, and our listeners tune in to over a million hours of sports news, analysis, and storytelling each week. We know true sports fans are always looking for stories about their clubs and teams told through a new lens, and with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, we can deliver even more great stories in an all-new way, ad free, directly through Apple Podcasts.”
John F. Lansing, president and CEO of NPR:
“Apple has been a valued partner to our podcasting work since it all started back in 2005, and we support their plan to enable a new revenue source for content creators on their platform. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will provide another opportunity for listeners to support their favourite podcasters at NPR and our Member stations in our mission to create a more informed public.”
Chris Argentieri, president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Times:
“Subscriptions have always been an important source of support for our business, and podcasting has established itself as a powerful medium for large audiences to engage with our brand of journalism and storytelling. The ability to marry the two with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will allow us to expand our audio offerings to cover new formats, stories, communities, and more.”
Stefan Ottlitz, co-CEO and head of Product for Der Spiegel:
“Audio is a uniquely powerful medium that provides Der Spiegel an opportunity to deeply engage audiences so they can form a meaningful relationship with our brand. We’re pleased to see this significant investment in podcasting from Apple, which will open doors to new, long-term revenue opportunities that will further empower us to pursue even more ambitious independent audio journalism.”
Dennis Kooker, president of Global Digital Business and US Sales at Sony Music Entertainment:
“Apple is putting creators first with their approach to the subscription model. Offering subscriptions provides new flexibility and options for consumers, and is an important addition to helping creators better monetise their works. All of this will lead to more investment and even better shows for podcast fans.”
Steve Ackerman, chief content officer and vice chairman of Somethin’ Else:
“The power of podcasting is in the communities it creates and so we’re incredibly excited about the potential for subscriptions on the scale that’s possible with Apple Podcasts. We believe that subscriptions have a powerful part to play as more and more listeners discover and enjoy podcasts, and this will be another huge step forward for the audio industry and its role within the entertainment landscape.”
Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg, co-founders of Pushkin Industries:
“Podcasting totally changed my approach to storytelling, and Apple Podcasts Subscriptions is a mind shift,” said Gladwell, who also hosts Revisionist History. “Our producers and I have so many ideas that don’t fit into existing models but will now have an outlet. This is a big step forward in the evolution of the audio content business, and we are excited about it.” Added Weisberg, “Podcasting exists, and thrives, today because of Apple. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will help us connect more deeply with our listeners and build a healthy business. We strongly believe that paid subscriptions are what independent creators like us need to succeed and thrive over the long term, and we’re thrilled that Apple is taking the lead.”
Update: The catch
Apple wants 30% of fees in year one, falling to 15% in year two, reports claim. There are a few other restrictions too.
Pricing and Availability
- Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will be available to listeners in over 170 countries and regions in May. Specific software requirements for Apple Podcasts Subscriptions and channels will be shared ahead of availability.
- Pricing for each subscription is set by creators and billed monthly by default. Creators can additionally offer annual billing, which subscribers can manage from their Apple ID account settings, now accessible from Listen Now. Listeners will also be able to access free trials and sample episodes offered by creators.
- Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share a subscription.
- Listeners will be able to access the enhanced Search tab with Top Charts and categories, new show and episode pages with the Smart Play button, and Saved Episodes on iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and macOS 11.3. Saved Episodes are also available on watchOS 7.4 and tvOS 14.5. These software updates will be available next week.
- The Apple Podcasters Program, which includes all of the tools needed to offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts, is available to creators in over 170 countries and regions for £17.99 per year. Creators can enrol in the Apple Podcasters Program today through Apple Podcasts Connect.
- Apple Podcasts features more than 2 million free shows and is available for free on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod mini, CarPlay, iTunes on Windows, and other smart speakers and car systems.