What Apple Podcast Subscriptions Means for Podcasters

Apple has officially announced Apple Podcast Subscriptions, a way for podcasters to offer paid podcasts directly through the Podcasts app. We’ll cover all the fine details (how it works, pricing, and some of the finer details) and they I’ll give my thoughts, and we’ll do some price comparisons. 

Show Notes


What Apple Podcast Subscriptions Means for Podcasters

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, Joe, Casabona here and welcome to a special bonus episode of how I built it. Earlier this week, Apple announced that they were launching Apple podcast subscriptions as a way for podcasters too allow for bonus, ad free, or extra episodes for people who pay a monthly fee. Now, if this sounds familiar, there are lots of other services that offer this – Memberful, Patreon.

[00:00:40] I offer my own through the build something club, uh, and I wanted to give my thoughts on this. So this is the audio from a YouTube video that I will link in the show notes over at howibuilt.it slash. Apple dash podcasts. Uh, but before we get into that, I do want to tell you about the build something club. Uh, this launched a few months ago now, and it’s, it’s going pretty strong.

[00:01:08] You can learn more over at buildsomething.club, but it is a membership for this podcast. So if you enjoy this show and you want to support it directly, you can join an exclusive community. To help you build something more. And what you’ll get in exchange for just $5 a month is longer ad free episodes, pre and post show conversations and bonus behind the scenes episodes.

[00:01:37] You’ll also get access to a members only community. Uh, we’ll do a member interviews and advanced look at the schedule deals and discounts I’m trying to work out and lots, lots more. So that’s over at buildsomething.club. And if you are listening to this. Before April 30th. So as I record this, you have about a week.

[00:01:58] If you’re listening to this before April 30th, you can get 25% off for being a founding member, which means you’re looking at. Uh, instead of $5 a month, $3 and 75 cents a month, or instead of $50 a year, you’re looking at 37 50 a year. And that will be the price for as long as you keep the membership. So again, if you are a builder or a creator, The build something club will help you go farther.

[00:02:27] It will give you access to exclusive content, add free content, longer episodes, and you will join a community of builders. Again, that’s over buildsomething.club. Thanks so much. Now let’s get on with the show today.

We are talking about Apple podcasts. So in case you missed it, uh, Apple recently announced that they are a leading.

[00:02:52] The next chapter of podcasting with Apple podcast subscriptions. And basically what this means is anybody who has a podcast on Apple podcasts can start offering things like member only feeds ad free episodes and other bonuses that they talk about here in this press release. Now, uh, macstories also has really good coverage on this, where they point out that.

[00:03:20] Podcast creators can participate for $19.99 per year. Uh, plus, uh, 30% of all subscribers for the first year that drops down to 15% for the second year. And we’ll, we’ll get into that in a moment, but I think it’s really interesting. It’s an interesting move. Uh, Apple. Announced that starting in iOS, uh, 14.5, the subscribe button in the Apple podcast app would change to a follow button.

[00:04:00] And a lot of people speculated that something like Apple podcast subscriptions was the reason. Now semantically speaking follow is a lot clearer that you don’t have to pay for [00:04:12] something, but after 16 years, why would they make this change? And now it’s a lot clearer. So, uh, in this press release, they do show a, uh, or they talk about companies like NPR, the athletic Tenderfoot.

[00:04:25] They mentioned, uh, a, uh, luminary original. Uh, so luminary is getting in on this action with, uh, Dave Chappelle. Uh, one of his podcasts or his podcast with other people I should say. And then, like I said, Apple podcasts, uh, we’ll be taking 30% that drops to 15% after the first year. This is exactly how the app store works for in-app purchases as pointed out in, uh, in the Mac stories article, and I’ll link all of these in the description down below.

[00:05:02] If you want to read them yourself. So I did have a couple of questions before I start waxing poetic here, uh, about some of the fine print. Six colors has really good coverage [00:05:15] on the fine print. Uh, one is, will I be able to sell my own ads? Will I be able to sell my own sponsorships and ads and sponsorships, uh, can be still using the paid podcasts, Apple, doesn’t get a cut of those.

[00:05:30] Um, and. Uh, this is Dan Morin’s article here on six colors. He points out that this isn’t exclusive. So if you run a membership program already, you can just add Apple podcast subscriptions on top of it. Now this is really good, right? Because last stats I saw, it was less than 50% of people now are using Apple podcasts.

[00:05:55] Spotify is taking a big cut and there are dozens of other podcasts apps. And directories. So if we are just locking down our subscriptions to Apple podcasts, we’re leaving a lot of money on the table there. So I’m glad to see that this is not an [00:06:18] exclusive deal. Uh, there’s one more article. I want to point out.

[00:06:22] And that’s from Nathan Gathwright. I hope I’m saying that correctly. He. Did the great service of sifting through the Apple podcast program agreement and related documentation. And he points out 11 things. I’m not going to read all 11 of these things. Again, I will link that in the description for this video, but he points out that Apple for the first time ever is offering first time hosting.

[00:06:48] Uh, you can also implement a DRM solution on anything that Apple is hosting. You are authorizing Apple to create transcripts as well as authorizing them or giving them the right to use your podcast content to train machine learning. Uh, this 1.8 is a really interesting one. This agreement covers everywhere.

[00:07:11] Apple podcast may be available including Android. So perhaps we will see Apple launch and Android. Uh, uh, uh, counterpart, [00:07:21] I think that this is really important because Apple has made a big deal about services revenue over the last few years, even before Apple TV plus rolled out. So this is another offering that they could have for their services revenue.

[00:07:38] So it makes sense to be on every possible platform imaginable. Again, they, they place no restrictions, uh, including advertising. And the biggest, the other question, the other big question I had was around ownership who owns the customer data and they own the customer relationship. They can offer a refund, which means, and I’m not an app developer or an Apple app developer.

[00:08:03] At least I reckon that you don’t get direct access to the customer data either. So. That is a quick overview of everything, including some of the questions that I had when I initially wrote up my notes document. [00:08:24] So what does this mean for podcasters? Well, I think it’s great for anyone. Who doesn’t have the time, money or ability to set up their own platform.

[00:08:35] It’s a lot easier if you’ve taken the time to put your podcast on Apple podcast, to log into podcasts connect, and either add a subscription to your current podcast or create a new members only subscription. However, 30%. Even if it’s just the first year is up noxious, Apple was late to the game on this.

[00:08:58] So they claim that they can take 30% of apps in the app store because app store is what made the apps and the app developers. They can’t lay claim to this at all. Uh, private podcasts have been around for years. Patrion has been around for years. My podcast hosts Castro’s, which we’ll talk about later.

[00:09:19] Recently rolled out private feeds, uh, earlier this year or late last year for anybody with a plan. [00:09:27] So Apple is just applying their current pricing model because they know people are going to go along with it. Uh, and just to do some quick math, uh, I pay, uh, I let’s see, I pay, uh, for the growth plan on Casto.

[00:09:44] So that’s $490 per year. And. Here’s the thing I would need to pay for podcast hosting anyway. Right. So this is not necessarily. Uh, I’m not saving anything by putting a private podcast on Apple podcasts. I would still need to sign up for some hosting plan. Now again, if we, if we go back to, uh, Nathan’s article, right?

[00:10:13] He says that for the first time ever Apple is offering first party podcast hosting. So you can create a show with subscriber only benefits. I am unclear. On this, if it means that you can also just create a free show and [00:10:30] Apple’s going to host it, I know that there’s some confusion around that. So, uh, once I dig in, I’ll probably do a up, but if they’re like eliminating the need for podcast hosting, uh, that, that is.

[00:10:43] A big deal. And I think it’s a buried lead. Uh, so I don’t necessarily think that is the case, but again, if we go back to the Casto hosting, I pay $400, $490 a year, uh, for that now I don’t necessarily need a website host, but I do have one for my podcast. I host multiple sites on there, but let’s just say I pay.

[00:11:05] A a hundred bucks a year or 200 bucks a year for hosting this website specifically, it’s probably around, uh, it’s probably closer to 200 bucks a year if I divide everything equally. So now we’re looking at around 700 bucks a year. Uh, and then I have a plugin restrict content pro for the membership side of things to accept payments.

[00:11:29] I’m paying 3% on. Uh, [00:11:33] I’m paying 3% on credit card fees. Right? So if, if we take all of that into account, uh, and let’s just say, I have, you know, a hundred subscribers, I’m charging five bucks a month that, uh, that’s 500 bucks a month. 30% of that to Apple is 200 bucks a month. Uh, and so that’s going to end up being 2,400 bucks a year.

[00:12:00] Uh, then dropping down to half of that. So 1200 bucks a year, uh, for the privilege of being on the Apple platform. So I think that pricing. Is a little bit obnoxious. If we look at, uh, something like member full, which I also think is, is again, okay. I should point out here that I’m a web developer. I have the skill and the know how to set up my own platform.

[00:12:27] So being as frictionless as possible is a huge, [00:12:36] huge benefit. Right? It’s one of the reasons that I decided to go with community. Uh, with circle for my community, right? Because I didn’t want the friction of having to set up my own. So I’m not knocking the pricing model because you can do it cheaper on WordPress or whatever.

[00:12:51] Uh, time is an important, uh, investment to look at here. But again, uh, if we’re looking at member full, starting out, it’s $0. Uh, a month and 10% of a transaction fee. If you start paying for the pro plan where you can have a lot more stuff, you’re looking at $25 a month, plus a 4.9% transaction fee. So if we’re looking at, you know, minus the 3% or so that the credit cards tick, or we’re looking at an almost 2% transaction fee, I think that’s perfectly reasonable for giving you a vehicle to make money.

[00:13:37] Right. And this is the whole [00:13:39] thing, right? All of these services are giving us a vehicle to make money with our content. Now, patriarchy, I did a podcast episode about this, where. In my members, only part of the episode, I actually share the numbers that is free. If you go over to, uh, build something.club, that’s going to be the, the, the sample episode that I provide to you to show you kind of what you get in the club.

[00:14:02] So if you’re interested in the numbers, I dig in deep there, but, um, Patrion took somewhere between like 10 and 14%, I think. And I wasn’t paying for it. So I know they have like paid tiers where they take less of a, a cut, but, uh, even that is less than the 30% is less than the 15%. So I think that it’s Apple and Apple can do the things that they want to do because they’re Apple.

[00:14:33] But I think that, um, That is, that’s a big cut and I know it’s going to make things a lot easier. Uh, but it’s a big [00:14:42] cut. Uh, they also say right, they announced better discovery methods. Uh, so, uh, they have completely redesigned the podcast app to accommodate some of these things. And I think that’s. I think that’s really important.

[00:14:55] And we’ll see if it works out well for, uh, independent creators, right? Because right now, most of the podcasts you see are super predictable. As far as their popularity goes, it’s like the NPR podcasts. It was Joe Rogan until Joe Rogan went to, to. Spotify, uh, and even the podcasts that they promote in the press release the athletic and extremely well-known premium, uh, sports outlet, uh, sports news outlet, uh, NPR, and then luminary, uh, which they touted again, Dave Chappelle’s show.

[00:15:30] So I really hope that when they say they’re improving discovery, it’s going to benefit. Independent creators. Uh, and again, something that six colors points out, uh, that’s really interesting is that [00:15:45] Apple will create and make available transcripts. I have transcripts from my podcast. They aren’t cheap though.

[00:15:52] If you have a podcast that’s not making any money. And you are trying to look for ways to cut costs. Transcripts is one of those ways. I know people who even have extremely popular podcasts who don’t think transcripts are worth the time. That’s a whole other argument, but seeing Apple do this is really great because I think that will help with discovery.

[00:16:15] Right? If you have a verbatim transcript, Of your podcast and then people search for a specific terms, things that you mentioned that you maybe didn’t put in the description that will help people discover. So, uh, that is, uh, that’s. Those are my general thoughts. Um, I think that it’s great for people who have no technical know-how and they just want to click a few buttons and have a members only podcast.

[00:16:43] I think this is great for that. I think 30% for the first year. Is [00:16:48] an obnoxious amount, but maybe it’s not right. Maybe two, if you’re charging five bucks a month, uh, maybe $2 is too much, but we’ll just round, I guess. Um, uh, maybe $2 per subscriber is totally worth it for you. And then again, that drops down, uh, after the second year.

[00:17:09] But I think that that’s, if, if where, if we’re comparing Apple to other services where other services make your podcast. Available everywhere and not just in the Apple podcast app. I think 30% is a lot of money. Uh, and so, uh, but I I’m, I’m excited to see how this works. Um, I’m going to try it out. Um, my questions, can I also pro uh, promote non Apple podcast, subscription memberships?

[00:17:34] Uh, it seems like this is again, six colors pointed this out. Uh, it seems like it’s not exclusive, so I’ll be able to say so if you’re an Apple podcast, subscriber, subscribe, subscribing Apple podcasts, or if you want to get. More than just exclusive episodes. You can [00:17:51] head over to build something.club. Right.

[00:17:53] Um, so we’ll, we’ll see how that shakes out. They it’s, I think it’s really clear that they’re not going to take any sponsorship money from you, which is good. Uh, and then will I be able to get the subscribers out of Apple podcasts? Will listeners be able to take their membership with them? If they want to switch apps looks like no.

[00:18:13] Um, Apple owns the customer relationship there though. I will say there is, there was this, this checkbox incident, uh, as I record this, the new Apple pie that the new podcast connect website that Apple’s rolling out to support, uh, subscriptions has had a lot of bugs and one of them is a checkbox that says, like, make this available everywhere.

[00:18:34] So maybe, maybe users will be able to. Uh, take their membership outside of the Apple podcast app. Again, that remains to be seen. I really hope that is the case though. All right. So that’s everything I have to say on the matter. Uh, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, [00:18:54] uh, maybe I’ll do a pot, uh, a follow-up video on this.

[00:18:57] I’ll certainly have, um, other, uh, other takes and tutorials, like how to manage multiple memberships and how to actually set up. Uh, a subscription in Apple podcasts, but that’s it for now. All right. So that is everything that I have. Uh, thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you liked it, be sure to share it with a friend, let them know.

[00:19:24] Hey, this Joe Guy has some pretty good takes on some stuff. Uh, if you want all of the show notes, you can head over to how I built.it/apple-podcasts. This is a bonus episode, so, uh, it’s not going to have the normal number at the end if you’re a regular listener. Uh, and then of course, if you do want to support the show directly and get ad free episodes, head on over to build something.club you have until April 30th to get 25% off for the lifetime of your membership.

[00:19:56] Thanks [00:19:57] so much for listening and until next time, get out there and build something.

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