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Apple Podcast Subscriptions

Tech giant Apple leads the next chapter in podcasting with Apple Podcast subscriptions unveiling from next month – May 2021- to podcast creators in over 170 countries worldwide.

The announcement was made during their latest event, with Apple setting the pace to dominate the podcasting industry against rival podcast giant, Spotify.

apple podcasts subscription
Credit: Apple Newsroom

In 2005, Apple became the pioneer in podcasting making podcasts mainstream by bringing the medium to iTunes. Introducing a paid subscription positions Apple ahead of Spotify in the fight to become the people’s champ in the podcasting industry. 

The introduction of a podcast subscription service that would allow listeners to unlock “additional benefits,” like ad-free listening, early access to episodes and the ability to support favourite creators has been well received by the podcast community.

Apple’s plans to monetise podcasts through paid subscriptions reflect the ongoing rise of the medium’s popularity. About 80 million Americans (28% of the U.S. population 12 and older) are now weekly podcast listeners, up 17% over 2020.

The service will be available from next month with Apple displaying a newly updated Podcasts app where free podcasts are still available. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that “this is THE biggest change to Apple Podcasts since its debut”.

Tim Cook Apple subscription
Credit: The Wall Street Journal

The announcement also confirmed a redesigned app, show and episode pages that make it easier to listen, follow and share podcasts. The app will also include a new “Channels” feature that lets you find shows from favourite creators and get recommendations (similar to Spotify’s interface) which will include both free channels and paid channels. 

Other new features let users save individual episodes for offline playback, an enhanced Search tab for quick access to Top Charts, and an updated Apple Podcasts Connect dashboard for podcasters.

The dashboard allows creators to edit their shows’ metadata, schedule and manage show availability, organize shows into channels, manage multiple users and roles, and track how well their shows are doing via new performance metrics and visualisation tools.

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Listeners will be able to enjoy premium subscriptions from independent voices and premier studios, including Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia from PRX, and QCODE, to leading media and larger brands, including NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic, Sony Music Entertainment, and many more.

“Today, Apple Podcasts is the best place for listeners to discover and enjoy millions of great shows, and we are proud to lead the next chapter of podcasting with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. We’re excited to introduce this powerful new platform to creators around the world, and we can’t wait to hear what they make with it.” – said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.

Apple had changed the ‘subscribe’ button to ‘follow’ button earlier this year because people correlated the word subscribe with a payment service with rumours that these changes were related to the subscription announced yesterday.

free, premium. apple podcast subscription
Podcasts have made it easier for creators to share their voices and experiences with listeners around the world and the Apple Podcasts subscriptions takes this unique relationship to the next level by offering creators a way to tighten the bond with their most engaged listeners.
Podcasts have also become an important way to not only understand what’s happening in the world, but also allows listeners turn to podcasts to analyse how these events affect society.
With Apple Podcasts subscriptions, listeners gain a simple and intuitive way to support quality programming from newspapers, magazines, digital publishers, local radio stations, and more, directly from Apple Podcasts. Thus the move to enter the subscription podcast space follows years of significant investment by Apple Podcasts puts the podcast giant ahead of the game.
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How do I setup Apple Podcast subscriptions?

  1. Sign in to Apple Podcasts Connect. If you don’t have an account yet, you can create one.
  2. Join the Apple Podcasters Program. You can sign up for the program on your Account page.
  3. Complete the Apple Podcasters Program agreement. You’ll need to sign this agreement if you want to sell subscriptions and receive payments from Apple.
  4. Set up your show for a subscription. Add subscriber audio or create a show in Apple Podcasts Connect with subscriber audio.
  5. Create a channel. You’ll need to create a channel before you can add a subscription. To do that, go to the Podcasts page, click +, then select New Channel.

Will Apple Podcast take a percentage from my subscriptions?


With Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, you receive 70% of the subscription price at each billing cycle, minus applicable taxes. After a subscriber accumulates one year of paid service, your net revenue increases to 85% of the subscription price, minus applicable taxes. Your other podcast revenue — including any ads — will stay 100% yours.

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What podcast creators need to know

Apple Podcast Subscriptions Pricing and Availability
  • Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will be available to listeners in over 170 countries and regions in May. Specific software requirements for Apple Podcasts subscriptions and channels will be shared ahead of availability.
  • Pricing for each subscription is set by creators and billed monthly by default. Creators can additionally offer annual billing, which subscribers can manage from their Apple ID account settings, now accessible from Listen Now. Listeners will also be able to access free trials and sample episodes offered by creators.
  • Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share a subscription.
  • Listeners will be able to access the enhanced Search tab with Top Charts and categories, new show and episode pages with the Smart Play button, and Saved Episodes on iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and macOS 11.3. Saved Episodes are also available on watchOS 7.4 and tvOS 14.5. These software updates will be available next week.
  • The Apple Podcasters Program, which includes all of the tools needed to offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts, is available to creators in over 170 countries and regions for $19.99 (US) per year. Creators can enroll in the Apple Podcasters Program today through Apple Podcasts Connect.
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