Spotify Rolls Out Podcast Subscriptions in the US


PodMov Daily: Wednesday, August 25

Episode 491: Your Midweek Update

Spotify Rolls Out Podcast Subscriptions in the US

In the United States, podcasters on Anchor can now charge for subscriber-only episodes. Creators will be provided with private RSS feeds for wide distribution, though Spotify doesn’t support outside private feeds. Most notably, creators can access email addresses for subscribers that opt in to be contacted.

There are now 20 subscription pricing tiers, all on a monthly basis. Spotify still plans to keep the service free until 2023, at which point it’ll take 5% of revenue. The company emphasizes its “industry-best” offering, alluding to Apple Podcasts’ hefty $19.99 annual fee, plus 30% of revenue earned over the first year.

There are quite a few tradeoffs, from Spotify’s lack of an in-app subscription button to Apple’s tedious backend process. Ashley Carman of The Verge has the bottom line: “All of these solutions are leading up to a world in which podcasters might operate multiple backends, if only to be present on every platform.”

Should Apple’s Auto-Download Default Be Retired?

Over a period of two months, Apple Podcasts’ auto-downloads bug nixed an estimated 11% of downloads across the industry. It’s been fixed, but should it have been? Sounds Profitable editor Bryan Barletta argues that going back to normal was a mistake, and auto-downloads should not be the default in any podcast app.

From travel to saving data, “there are absolutely valid reasons to download (or even auto-download) podcasts,” Barletta writes. But overall, auto-downloads deprive the industry of a valuable standard metric: listens. Neither creators nor hosting companies can tell when (or if) a pre-downloaded episode is even heard.

Most every app notes a download request right when the listener presses play. By sticking to auto-downloads, Apple Podcasts and Overcast can’t track ‘listener intent’ — meaning it can’t be used as an industry-wide measurement. Barletta urges Apple to lift this unnecessary blind spot by letting go of a long-held system.

Potential dream gig? If you end up bringing your triple-expert skills to Song Exploder, let us know.

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Here's what else is going on:

  • Odd future: This week’s episode of The Pod Lab is all about surviving awkward interviews. Ologies host Alie Ward stops by with expert advice to de-cringe your conversations. Bonus: After 215 episodes of her hit show, she blesses us with the tale of her most uncomfortable interview ever.
  • Burn book: Meryl Klemow of Blubrry once got this review of her show: “Not good. Stupidest podcast ever.” Can anything positive come from a comment like that? The Campfire Sht Show co-host offers a few helpful points to consider when you field your first (or hundredth) public shaming. 
  • Easy rider: Do exclusive podcasts offer more benefit than cost? Considering Spotify’s recent strategy, Matt Deegan says that “the big value of exclusives is using the star power to change user behaviour.” When you gatekeep more hits than any other app, listeners will choose convenience.
  • Mix master: According to Food 4 Thot co-host Tommy Pico, the show’s producer Alexandra DiPalma “has a knowledge of her craft that is simply mind blowing.” For, Celeste Kaufman highlights DiPalma’s role on the critically acclaimed podcast and as co-founder of Domino Sound.

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