Beginning in May 2021, Apple Podcasts will be offering subscriptions within its platform. This update is bringing major changes to creators who participate as well as to those who don’t.
Here are five things creators should understand about Apple Podcasts subscriptions:
- You don’t have to participate.
- Creators pay yearly.
- Subscriptions start at 0.49¢ a month.
- You can create channels.
- You can still use RSS.
Plus, here’s how to get started with Apple Podcasts subscriptions.
1. You don’t have to participate.
While creators of any size will be able to offer subscriptions for ad-free episodes, they aren’t forced to switch. Podcasters will still be able to monetize their shows through ads if they want to.
It’s up to you as the creator to determine whether your listeners would rather pay for your content or hear the occasional advertisement.
[READ: Should you hire a podcast advertising agency? Find out & check out our top 10 recs.]
In addition to ad-free episodes, participants will be able to offer bonus content, early access, and free trials. Sound a little bit like another patron-only platform?
Apple Podcasts subscriptions are pretty obviously Apple’s answer to Patreon’s success with content creators. However, there are a few notable differences — namely, price.
2. Creators pay yearly.
To use Apple’s optional Patreon-esque subscription model, creators only have to pay $19.99 a year. But, there’s a catch.
Your first year using Apple Podcasts subscriptions will cost you the initial 20 bucks, as well as 30% of your revenue. Then, 15% of your revenue for every year after that. Patreon only takes 12% of its creators’ revenue.
Before you go price-shaming the technology/media behemoth, remember why it’s a behemoth in the first place. As of March 2021, Apple Podcasts owns 30.5% of the market, leaving Spotify in second place with 28.1%.
Does its market share justify its priceyness? Maybe. Does its prices leave Patreon with a fighting chance? I’d say so.
3. Subscriptions start at 0.49¢ a month.
Podcasters who sign up to use the subscriptions feature can start charging listeners 0.49¢ per month.
Creators can decide whether a monthly or annual plan works better for their audience. The free trials feature is meant to help podcasters bring on listeners who will, hopefully, end up subscribing.
4. You can create channels.
Another new feature tied in with subscriptions is the ability for creators to group their shows into channels. This redesign is meant to help fans find new content by their favorite podcasters.
To create a channel, you don’t need to sign up for subscriptions. However, many initial partners are either offering free and paid material or exclusively paid content.
Luminary, a subscription-based podcast player, is an initial channel partner that’s offering its paid shows on both Apple Podcasts and in the Luminary app. Luminary original shows include Under the Skin with Russell Brand, The Trevor Noah Podcast, and The Black List Podcast.
5. You can still use RSS.
Although subscription shows will need to upload via Apple’s backend, regular podcast feeds will still be able to operate through RSS.
[READ: These are 20 podcast marketing best practices you can’t ignore.]
Heads up for subscription-based shows: Since your content is going through Apple, you won’t get specific data about your subscribers, like names, emails, or any other contact info. In other words, Apple owns the relationship. 🙃
Use Apple Podcasts subscriptions… or don’t.
Deciding whether or not to sign up for Apple Podcasts subscriptions really comes down to who your ideal listener is. Are they willing to pay for your content? Is your content valuable and consistent enough to warrant a subscription?
Remember — no matter if you make a lot or a little off of podcast subscriptions, Apple takes 30% of that in your first year.
Maybe sticking to a free model in Apple Podcasts and publishing your paid content on Patreon is your best bet. Or, try the freemium route with Apple Podcasts (fans listen for free and subscribe for additional benefits).
How to Sell Subscriptions on Apple Podcasts
If you decide that Apple Podcasts subscriptions are the way to go, getting started is pretty simple. To get started monetizing your podcast through subscriptions, follow the steps Apple has laid out:
- Sign in or create an account on Apple Podcasts Connect.
- Join the Apple Podcasters Program on your Account page.
- Fill out the agreement.
- Add subscriber audio to your show or create a new show in Apple Podcasts Connect with subscriber audio.
- Create a channel by going to the Podcasts page, clicking the Add (+) button, and selecting New Channel.