Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

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5 Podcast Industry Updates & What They Mean for Marketers

woman-speaking-into-mic-smiling-podcast-industry-updates

Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

The podcast industry hasn’t seen this much action since Elon Musk lit up on Joe Rogan’s show.

It’s a turbulent and exciting time for podcasters and our overlords (Apple, Spotify, etc.) who allow us to make our words public on their platforms. But what do all of these changes mean for marketers with business podcasts?

We’ll tell ya.

Here are 5 podcast industry updates marketers should be aware of:

  1. Apple Podcasts Does Subscriptions & Channels
  2. Spotify Does Podcast Subscriptions
  3. Netflix Does Podcasts
  4. Amazon Acquires ART19
  5. Facebook Rolls Out Live Audio Rooms

Keep reading to learn what all of these changes mean for you.

1. Apple Podcasts Does Subscriptions & Channels

Creators can officially sell subscriptions on Apple Podcasts meaning subscribers can listen ad-free. As long as the user is operating in iOS 14.6 or later, they can take advantage of the new subscriptions and channels features.

How It Works

Listeners can subscribe to channels (multiple shows) or individual podcasts. In order to find shows that offer subscriptions, the user can tap Listen Now or the Browse tabs in the Apple Podcasts app.

In the Listen Now tab, users find shows by selecting Channels to Try. In the Browse tab, available subscriptions can be found under Featured Channels.

Additionally, listeners can find out if their favorite shows offer subscriptions by searching for them in the app. The show will feature a Subscribe or Try Free option if subscriptions are available.

If a user signs up for two or more subscriptions, they’ll show up under the Listen Now tab in a new My Channels section.

When a listener subscribes to a podcast, the show page features a Subscriber Edition label. This way, they know they’re receiving the premium experience.

Creators can sell subs starting at $0.49/month.

What It Means For You

Apple Podcasts subscriptions are another way for you to monetize your show. But before you jump in like Squints into the deep end, weigh the pros and cons.

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Pros of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions & Channels

  • They’re native to the platform. No redirecting listeners to a third party for exclusive content.
  • Apple Podcasts still own the market, so it makes sense to invest in its users.
  • Creators can group shows into channels, making it easier for listeners to find the content they resonate with.
  • Your fans can listen ad-free.
  • It’s potentially easier for listeners to find your show (via Channels to Try and Featured Channels).
  • You’ll (probably) make money.

Cons of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions & Channels

  • Your first year, you owe The Man $19.99 and 30% of your revenue. Every year after, it’s 15% of your revenue.
  • You upload content via Apple’s backend. Since Apple is cracking down on user privacy, you won’t know anything about your listeners like you might if you used Patreon.
  • Your audience might not be down with paying for your historically free content.

Selling Apple Podcasts Subs

The main priority of starting a business podcast shouldn’t be to monetize the show itself. It’s much more profitable to focus on getting guests who match your ICP.

At Sweet Fish, we measure podcast success mainly by how many guests have turned into customers.

But, if you know your audience is cool with paying for some or all of your content, go for it.

It’s easy to get started:

  1. Sign in or create an account on Apple Podcasts Connect.
  2. Join the Apple Podcasters Program on your Account page.
  3. Fill out the agreement.
  4. Add subscriber audio to your show or create a new show in Apple Podcasts Connect with subscriber audio.
  5. Create a channel by going to the Podcasts page, clicking the Add (+) button, and selecting New Channel.

2. Spotify Does Podcast Subscriptions

It’s no wonder that our generational expectation for subscriptions is causing major streamers to take a hint. And with 345 million monthly listeners, Spotify’s come aboard in their own way.

How It Works

With the help of recently acquired Anchor, Spotify allows creators to put episodes behind a paywall. Anchor is a podcast hosting platform that the media giant uses as its creator hub.

As of now, however, only a select 12 podcasters are allowed to sell podcast subs on Spotify — they’re still testing it out. But U.S. creators are first in line for when the opportunity opens up. You can sign up for the waitlist here.

As far as pricing goes, creators are allowed to choose between charging a monthly $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99. Plus, Anchor apparently plans to let creators keep 100% of their revenue up until 2023.

Users will still be able to see your exclusive content in the app, but there will be a lock 🔒 icon in place of the play ▶ icon. That is until the user pays for the episode.

One major drawback of the Spotify/Anchor subs process is that users can’t subscribe to a show directly in the Spotify app — they’re directed to an Anchor landing page instead. On top of that, the link to the landing page is somewhat hidden in each episode description.

Now, why would Spotify make their creators’ exclusive content harder to locate than an employee at IKEA?

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Ever hear of a little digital boutique called the App Store? Spotify didn’t want to have to give Apple a cut for accepting subscriptions directly in-app. They would have had to give Apple a portion of every transaction.

Probably the easiest way to find a podcast’s Anchor page is to Google it. Then, the subscriber will have access to the exclusive episodes in Spotify.

What It Means For You

As of now, podcasters only have the option to sign up for the waiting list. Then, Anchor/Spotify/whoever’s in charge will either accept or deny your application (it mainly depends on the size of your audience).

The other is if you’re not hosting your podcast on Anchor, you’re going to have to switch if you want to sell subs.

If you’re questioning Spotify’s podcasting prowess, don’t discount them just yet. Searches for “spotify podcasts” have boomed.

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And they have Joe Rogan, Gimlet, and Parcast. So…

3. Netflix Does Podcasts

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In an attempt to keep fans engaged with its movies and series, Netflix is throwing its hat into the podcasting ring.

How It Works

So far, Netflix’s podcast library consists of about 30 shows, all of which are primarily tied to its popular shows and movies. More recently, the streamer hired former Apple Podcasts head of content, N’Jeri Eaton, as its head of podcasts.

Essentially, Netflix will act as, well, the Netflix of podcasts. It’ll produce and promote its own shows most likely on popular players like Apple and Spotify.

Jonathon Bing, spokesman for Netflix, said, “Podcasts are an excellent way for fans to connect with our stories and talent, and our marketing team plans to make more of them.”

The only other news about Netflix’s podcasting venture is the announcement of a Stranger Things prequel, podcast style.

What It Means For You

Netflix making its own highly-produced podcasts likely won’t affect you as a marketer all that much. Their main goal is to incubate IP in a relatively inexpensive way (inexpensive for Netflix).

The only thing I suggest is to keep an ear out for shows they release. It’s always good to stay in the know with what’s trending and what listeners are resonating with.

4. Amazon Acquires Podcast Hosting Platform ART19

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As if it didn’t manipulate our media consumption and buying habits enough, Amazon is getting deeper into podcasting.

Must. Go. One. Day. Without Amazon purchase…

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Recently, Amazon acquired podcast hosting and monetization platform, ART19.

How It Works

Amazon only entered the podcasting space in September 2020. Their purchase of ART19 makes it clear that they want to get more serious about what goes into our ears.

Essentially, Amazon will be involved in the podcast hosting services that ART19 already offers. This also means that Amazon will start selling ads in the established marketplace that inserts them into programming.

This acquisition proves timely after Amazon’s purchase of one of the last major independent podcast networks, Wondery. All of this buying makes it possible for Amazon to…

  • Create crowd-pleasing content via Wondery
  • Distribute shows through Wondery’s app
  • Host all of Wondery’s shows as well as third parties’
  • Sell ads against all shows on its hosting platform (ART19)
  • Collect more data on human beings than you can shake a stick at

Nothing will immediately change on the ART19 platform, according to an Amazon Music spokesperson.

What It Means For You

Amazon purchasing ART19 and Wondery isn’t much different from Spotify acquiring Parcast, Gimlet, and Megaphone, an ART19 competitor. Even companies like iHeartMedia and SXM Media have snatched up their own content makers and monetization platforms.

For podcasters like you, this all means that there are more opportunities to monetize your show through advertising. Selling ad space may be an easier route than creating exclusive content to sell via subscription.

Again, it all depends on the goals you have for your podcast. You can certainly sell ad space and use your show for content-based networking simultaneously. Subscriptions might be a little tougher to finagle for a business podcast.

5. Facebook Rolls Out Live Audio Rooms

Facebook’s new Clubhouse-esque feature, Live Audio Rooms, has recently launched. Verified public figures in the U.S. who are in good standing with Facebook are allowed to go live on it.

The rest of us are allowed to watch, err, listen.

Live Audio Rooms is just one of the new releases from Facebook meant to support podcasters. Their new podcast listening experience allows users to listen to select podcasts within and outside of the app — like a native podcast playing app. 👀

Since the podcast listening experience is still in its infancy, let’s take a look at how marketers can leverage Live Audio Rooms.

How It Works

It’s not much different from Clubhouse. Live Audio Rooms operate on a standard set of features.

The host (aka, people who Facebook is cool with) schedules events and pops up in a round profile pic at the top of the screen. Listener icons appear smaller towards the bottom of the screen. The active speaker is indicated by a glowing ring.

Other features include…

  • A “raise hand” function
  • The ability to share the room with others on Facebook
  • The ability for hosts to invite co-hosts on prior to the event
  • The ability for hosts to choose in-stream listeners to co-host
  • Up to 50 speakers at once
  • Unlimited listeners at once
  • In-stream “reactions”
  • Direct donations to a nonprofit of the host’s choosing

What It Means For You

Are you a verified public figure in good standing with Facebook? Do you know a verified public figure?

You can either schedule your own event or convince your buddy to make you a co-host on theirs. If Live Audio Rooms is anything like Facebook has ripped off in the past, it’ll probably be pretty successful.

If you have an underserved audience on Facebook, Live Audio Rooms might be a good way to reach them. Then, hopefully, get them to follow you on other channels.

Podcasting Is Changing… Fast

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The only constant is change. For marketers with podcasts, though, you can rest easy that you’re ahead of the trend. The hardest part is over.

For marketers who aren’t leveraging podcasting yet, better to take the plunge sooner than later.

The biggest thing to remember amongst all of these expansions and acquisitions is the relationships. Before monetization, subscriptions, and production, prioritize the relationships your show makes for you.

Get more podcast insights by subscribing (for free) to B2B Growth on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.