When it comes to podcasts, are all subscription tools created equal?
Future. Spotify and Apple are locked in a heated battle for the podcast-subscription throne, offering creators competing visions of access, reach, and take-home pay. It’s possible that no clear winner will be decided, but the rise of subscriptions could allow for the success of podcasts that won’t need to depend on a “serve the largest audience possible” ethos of advertising.
More money, less problems
Podcast ad-revenue is already a billion dollar industry, and now top podcast platforms are racing to control the next money-making frontier: subscriptions.
- Through Spotify’s Anchor platform, creators (in the U.S. only) can set a price of $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99 per month… and keep 100% of the revenue up until 2023.
- After that, Spotify will take a 5% cut.
- Apple opened up its subscriber tools to creators in over 170 countries and allows them to set a monthly price as low as $0.49.
- But… Apple takes a 30% cut in the first year, and then 15% every year after that.
And, unlike Apple, Spotify also gives creators detailed subscriber data — such as emails and contact information.
Listen to the revenue
Will subscription revenue ever hit the $2 billion mark that podcast advertising is expected to hit in 2023? Many top creators think so… but with caveats.
- Simon Sutton, CEO of podcast network Luminary, believes that revenue split will eventually be 50-50… but not for a while because the industry has “many years to go before it gets to maturity.”
- QCODE chief strategy officer Steve Wilson believes subscription revenue for individual podcasts will be dependent on the demographics of the podcast, saying that “publishers who have a ravenous fan base, and maybe that’s very niche content, [will be able] to charge a premium and have a smaller audience but actually be financially sustainable.”
On advertising, Wilson says it “necessitate[s] having a really large audience, so for some small publishers, [subscriptions] could be a vast majority of the money that they make.”