Back from vacation last week, but as I tell all my clients, that’s the kind of stuff to save for the END of your podcast, so more on that later. Naturally, the biggest podcast news of the year came while I was away, so let’s get to it. Apple is revamping their Podcasts platform. As always, James Cridland of PodNews did an excellent job of breaking it down: https://podnews.net/update/apple-podcast-subscriptions-hello
Here are the key takeaways. For podcast listeners, you’ll be able to “group” shows, and the new “smart play” button will know which episode to start you with on a show – for example, the first episode of Serial vs the last episode of The Daily.
The big changes are for podcast creators. Apple will be rolling out a subscription model that will allow you to charge users for your podcast. Apple will take a 30% commission of whatever you charge in year one, then 15% after that. Yikes. They are supposedly also improving the Apple Podcasts Connect Dashboard. So if you haven’t logged in over the last 10 days or so, hop on over there and accept the new terms of service. If you’re like me, and don’t read those things, Cridland also spies a mention of Windows and Android. After all, Google Podcasts are available on iOS – maybe Apple Podcasts will finally come to Android?
So what do Subscriptions in Apple mean for you as a podcaster? Likely, nothing. Think about this for a second. Realistically, for someone to pay for your podcast on Apple, two criteria need to be met. One, your podcast needs to be exclusive to Apple so it can be found for free somewhere else. Two, your content has to be SO good, that people are willing to add one more line item to their monthly budget, on top of Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and any other subscriptions. I don’t have the hubris to think THIS show meets that mark. I hope you don’t either.
Now, you’ve heard me say for awhile that Apple, despite being “first in” to the podcast space, is fat and lazy. Well, it would have been hard to screw up this launch any worse than they did last week. Shows disappeared, people couldn’t log in to their dashboards, people couldn’t add new shows, and more. There’s a list of bugs as of Tuesday here: https://transistor.fm/apple-podcasts-problem
Apple, if you truly want to be a leader in the space, you gotta work out the bugs ahead of a giant launch. And when problems happen, you should probably not go “radio silent” for the better part of a week. If you listen really closely…you can hear Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave.
For me personally, as recently as Wednesday of this week, I was trying to catch up on The Daily and some other shows. And my Apple Podcasts app would NOT play them. Seems to be OK today after restarting my phone, but yesterday, I just hopped on over to Spotify, and I can’t be the only one.
Speaking OF Spotify, THEY are also hopping on the monetization train. Following revenue and subscriber gains in Q1 of this year, they are giving you the opportunity to monetize your show through their Anchor platform. Now they won’t take a cut the first two years, and only 5% starting in 2023. Shots fired, Apple. The catches: to pay, listeners have to be re-routed to the Anchor website and creators will have to part ways with credit card processing fees. But again, if your show isn’t platform specific, and worth paying for, is it really worth it?
And with the debate raging over privacy, and Tim Cook saying Apple will share less of your data, how much will you really know about your subscribers? That’s why Tom Webster of Edison Research says the best thing you can do right now – is get your listeners to subscribe to an email list. https://tomwebster.media/archive/preparing-for-paid-subscriptions/
And Evo Terra adds, you shouldn’t have anxiety around these podcast changes. https://podcastpontifications.com/episode/reducing-your-anxiety-around-big-podcasting-changes
Facebook jumped in on the audio fray in the last week as well with a suite of what they collectively call “social audio.” Thanks to SoundBites, you’ll be able to post short audio clips like you do pics and video. You’ll also be able to listen to podcasts within the Facebook app, thanks in part to their continued partnership with Spotify. (Facebook, after all, wants to keep you in their app as long as possible). And, they are launching an audio-only version of their “Rooms” feature – which previously had been a video chat version. This, ostensibly, will compete with Clubhouse.
Here’s the link to their press release. https://about.fb.com/news/2021/04/bringing-social-audio-experiences-to-facebook/
Finally, as I mentioned at the top, my wife and I loaded up the car and took our pandemic pup to Hilton Head Island last week. After both staring at these same four walls for 13 months, it was nice to have a change of scenery, warm weather, and walks on the beach. We mainly got takeout, masked up in public, and folks down there were pretty compliant with masks as well. It was a much needed break, and we were able to do it because we both got vaccinated. Please go out and get the shot. And if you post to social, as my friend Matt Friedman says – don’t focus on the side effects – you will scare away those on the fence. Talk about the things you can’t wait to do, not that you had chills and a fever for a day. https://tannerfriedman.com/blog/heres-how-you-can-help-the-looming-vaccination-crisis
These new variants are highly contagious and not to be messed with. Someone in my life passed away from COVID complications last night. Until next week, stay healthy and stay safe. Lata.
Wall Street Journal Breakdown on Apple Podcast Changes: https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-spotify-and-the-new-battle-over-who-wins-podcasting-11619170206
JAG in Detroit Podcasts Website: https://jagindetroit.com/