As podcasting grows in popularity, Spotify and Apple roll out subscription services

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Illustration by Greg Storey

Digital media has been on a steep rise for the better part of a year as the pandemic kept people indoors seeking entertainment. With this in mind, there doesn’t seem to be any better time than now to start a podcast. 

Brandtastic boasts that over half the U.S. population listens to podcasts weekly. There’s a show for everyone, with carved out niches similar to those you’d find in the blogging world. I don’t believe audio content will ever take the place of visual content—don’t worry, podcasts aren’t going to put blogging out of business. But, they can be a great counterpart or even a successful stand-alone.

Blogging and podcasting are one and the same in terms of seeking to educate, share and build a reputation. Both work to form connections and are becoming just as credible as major media outlets.

With the steady increase in podcasting popularity, monetization has become easier than ever. Today, Apple has launched their paid subscription service.

It seems akin to live-stream gaming platform Twitch in the way some of the benefits will work—such as ad-free listening and access to content that won’t be available to regular listeners. 

Podcasts will set their own subscription fees (starting at 49 cents), payable monthly with up to six family members allowed to enjoy the same benefits. For creators, it’s only $19.99 a year to access these subscription tools. 

An interesting thing to note is that Apple will take a 30% cut of the subscription profits for the first year—dropping to 15% by the second year. 

This comes on the heels of Spotify’s subscription service, who got their program rolled out back in April. TechCrunch notes the advantage this has given Spotify over Apple:

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019 quote-left

Apple’s delay to invest in the Podcasts market has given its rivals a head start on growing their own audience for podcasts. At the time of the spring announcement of subscriptions, for example, an industry report suggested that Spotify’s podcast listeners would top Apple’s for the first time in 2021.

It’s certainly not too late for Apple to catch up—but, Spotify is taking a noticeably lesser cut of the profits. For the first two years, podcasters don’t have to give anything back to Spotify, then the streaming service will take a five percent cut of total subscription revenue.

Where Spotify is ahead in affordability, Apple surpasses in accessibility. Spotify podcasters must be hosting through Anchor and listeners will have to head directly to their favorite podcast’s anchor landing page. Apple listeners can subscribe easily in the app.

The monetization of all different forms of content is interesting to see play out, as platforms such as Substack have also allowed bloggers to directly benefit financially from their writing. Citizen journalism is becoming more and more reputable, and allowing these individuals to build their platforms with a direct financial gain just opens the door even wider.

You no longer need a press badge or a huge media backing for your work to attain credibility. And now, you don’t need either of those things to profit from that work either. Anyone can host a podcast, anyone can start a blog—and with platforms such as Substack, Spotify and Apple, anyone can be compensated for their work (if they have a large enough audience). 

Michelle works on LexBlog’s Publishing team as the Editor and assists in managing and creating the company’s editorial and social content, as well as working with clients to ensure the overall success of their blogs. She has experience working in all different realms of publishing—including newspapers, magazines and research journals. 

Photo of Michelle Newblom
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