Apple’s first major podcasting changes in over a decade – How will this affect podcasters?

Last night, Apple announced major changes to Apple Podcasts, effective in the next few weeks, that will certainly disrupt podcasting creation and distribution in the long-term. 

Apple had originally dominated the podcasting industry, but it’s lack of innovation in recent years has enabled Spotify overtake its market share in many countries, and allowed the rise of new major platforms including Google Podcasts and Amazon Music. 

The Podcast Labs team wondered if something was afoot, as we’ve noticed a few changes in the back end of Apple and knew that Apple’s tech presentation was taking place this week – clearly our suspicions were correct!

Sadly Apple Podcasts has become known among content creators and podcast agencies for being unreliable compared to other platforms – we’re positive that the technical bugs are finally going to be rectified within the changes!

What’s changed?

  1. New Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

With podcasting growing phenomenally in the last two years, we knew that paid subscriptions was a natural next step, and of course Apple is leading the way. 

Podcast creators can set the price for their show which is billed monthly and will start from around 50p per month (it’ll be interesting to hear how Joe Rogan feels about this after his exclusive move to Spotify…). 

Apple seems to be joining the scores of other services now allowing audiences to directly support their favourite creators, much like the well-established Patreon and Twitch, and the more recent addition of the ‘Join’ button on YouTube. However there’s a chance that, like the App Store, they may want a generous cut of the funds…(around 30% in the first year), and Apple will not share your subscribers personal information with you. 

Management and advertising of your show will become more important, as you’ll need to create adverts and unique value in exchange for their money and loyalty, plus manage annual fees and distribution tools in the backend – something Podcast Labs are able to support with. 

Listeners will be able to pay to unlock new content, have ad-free listening or early access to episodes or other perks – a great content marketing opportunity for brands to boost engagement.

  1. Improvements for Apple Podcasts Connect

Within the core dashboard behind your podcast you can now create channels which are groups of shows that can be personalised, (watch this space for a new Podcast Labs channel featuring all of our shows!)

Image: Apple

New Apple Podcast Channels

Where are the opportunities?

The switch from subscribe to follow in podcasting language is an interesting one. Many of us are used to “following” personalities on major social media platforms, and something about the phrasing “subscribe” didn’t fit the podcasting world. We feel it put people off thinking they were having to hand over data or fees to learn about new episode releases. Hopefully this will be a positive change and encourage more people to follow. 

The new podcast subscription model provides a huge opportunity for audio courses. Without the need to hide your teaching or knowledge behind a website, this will enable your potential audience to purchase your course through their Apple ID accounts instead opening a world of opportunity. 

As many people want to learn on the go whether commuting, at the gym or sitting at their desks, podcasting will naturally boom in this area. 

Should I put my podcast behind a subscription?

It all depends on your aims and objectives – in a business sense, if you’re creating content to engage and inspire new customers or clients, you’re only going to shoot yourself in the foot, and lose 90% of your current audience by suddenly adding a paywall. You need to consider how this could damage your reputation too, after the effort you’ve gone to to build nurturing relationships.

However, if done in the right way, there’s a great opportunity to boost value for your audience by providing behind the scenes content, teachings, or exclusive interviews that are part of the paid subscription and therefore encourage more trust with your business.

Furthermore if you’re recording content you’d usually charge for as a consultant or in a training event, a paid subscription model could be ideal.

I’d start planning exclusive content or new audio courses within your shows now, and then see how the market responds to this major shift before potentially rocking the boat with your current audience.  

Where can I find more support?

If you’re wanting to make waves in the audio space, and jump on these new opportunities for your brand, feel free to reach out at kelly@podcastlabs.co.uk

Podcast Labs are the UK’s premium, audio-first content creation agency. We produce the highest quality sound, visual and promotional media to get you the engagement you deserve.