apple podcasts

Apple held its latest press launch last night, with updates for its iMac, iPad Pro and Apple TV; a purple iPhone; and the launch of its keys-finding / pet-tracking AirTag accessories. There were no new figures for Apple Music, but we did get some announcements and insight around Apple’s plans for podcasting.

Apple was the major player in podcast distribution / listening for many years, first with iTunes and then with Apple Podcasts, although in 2021 it’s facing a blizzard of competition including Spotify, Amazon Music and sundry other streaming services, broadcasters and startups.

The big announcement last night was subscriptions. Not for the overall service – no Apple Podcasts+ for now – but for individual shows. Podcasters will be able to charge subscriptions for their shows on Apple Podcasts, tempting listeners with benefits including no ads, extra content and early access to new episodes.

News site Vox has more details. Podcast subscriptions will start at $0.49 a month, and will be set by the podcasters or production companies. Apple will get 30% of podcast subscription revenues for the first year, and then 15% thereafter. Last night also saw Apple show off a redesign for the Apple Podcasts app, and announce new discovery features and tools in its dashboard for podcasters.

This all came the day after Facebook announced its own push into podcasts. In the next few months, the social network will start enabling people to listen to shows directly within the Facebook app, with its own tools for discovering shows, and helping podcasters connect to their listeners.

With Google and Amazon also active in this space, it’s a reminder for Spotify that its ‘audio first’ strategy may be well advanced, but is also intensifying the competition for podcast listeners. Apple’s show-level subscriptions could be an interesting opportunity for artists and labels who are making podcasts, meanwhile.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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