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Spotify challenges Apple with its own paid podcast subscriptions

Published Apr 27th, 2021 8:18PM EDT
Spotify podcast subscriptions
Image: Spotify

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Apple made waves last week during its Spring Loaded event by introducing paid subscriptions for its Apple Podcasts app. As of May, podcasters will be able to offer premium subscriptions to their listeners which can include a number of benefits, from ad-free listening to bonus content to early access for new episodes. Days later, a report claimed Spotify would unveil its own rival platform soon, and on Tuesday, Spotify made its announcement.

Starting today in the United States, Spotify will allow podcasters on its platform to charge listeners for content. With Spotify’s Anchor app, podcasters will be able to mark specific episodes as subscriber-only before publishing them to Spotify and other services. For the next two years, podcasters will receive 100% of the revenue they make from paid subscriptions, in stark contrast to Apple, which takes a 30% cut in the first year and 15% thereafter.

Podcasters will have the option to charge listeners $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99 per month in order to access exclusive content. For content locked behind a subscription, Spotify users will see a lock icon instead of the green play button. Tapping that button will redirect users to the landing page on Anchor where they will have the ability to pay in order to unlock the show. This is how Spotify gets around the 15% cut that Apple usually takes from subscriptions. As a result, podcasters will only be responsible for paying transaction fees through Stripe.

Spotify will require users to use Anchor to sign up for podcast subscriptions. Image source: Spotify

The downside for podcast creators is that Spotify won’t have a subscribe button featured prominently at the top of the page, as users are not able to subscribe directly within the app. Spotify podcasters can put links to their Anchor page anywhere they like, such as the show notes or their bio, but the extra step could be a barrier to entry for some users. In this way, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions create less friction between listener and podcaster.

While the subscription process occurs outside of the Spotify app, you can still search for and discover podcasts with subscriptions within the app or in third-party apps using a private RSS feed. If listeners can deal with the extra step of visiting Anchor to subscribe, they’ll know the creator is getting almost every penny they spend.

In order to kick off the platform’s arrival, Spotify is collaborating with NPR to publish some of their shows sponsor-free for paid subscribers. Starting on May 4th, How I Built This with Guy RazShort WaveIt’s Been a Minute with Sam SandersCode Switch, and Planet Money will all be available on Spotify’s app without any pesky sponsors for those who pay. NPR will add “Plus” to the end of show titles to differentiate between free and paid.

“We believe this technology will enable more creators to make meaningful revenue from their podcasts by providing much better value to advertisers than existing podcast advertising solutions that use RSS,” Spotify explained in a blog post Tuesday morning. “This will ultimately bring more dollars (and more-efficient spending) into the space, benefitting creators who choose to monetize through advertising.”

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.