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Spotify takes on Apple with new podcast subscription platform

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A battle over podcasting is brewing between Spotify and Apple — and the Swedish streaming giant just launched the latest salvo.

Spotify said Tuesday that it is launching a new subscriber-only platform for podcasts, and said it will be more lucrative for creators than the platform Apple unveiled in a splashy presentation last week.

Specifically, Spotify said it will give creators the option to make their podcasts subscriber-only when they publish them and that they will be able to keep 100 percent of the subscription fees until 2023. After that, the company will take a 5-percent cut.

The cost to subscribe is determined by the creator, but will be one of thee tiers: $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99 per month, Spotify said. The company said creators can paywall their entire feed, but that it believes the lure of free episodes will ultimately attract new listeners.

Bigger, more well-known podcasters may go this route, Spotify acknowledged, pointing to its newest deal with NPR. NPR will create five subscription-only shows— “How I Built This with Guy Raz,” “Short Wave, It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders,” “Code Switch” and “Planet Money” — that will be ad-free starting on May 4.

By adding a paywall to some content, Spotify said it will “help podcasters maximize their subscription audiences and grow them from their existing listener bases.”

The move comes a week after rival Apple revealed plans to add paid podcast subscriptions in its podcast app next month. In its announcement, Apple said it will keep up to 30 percent of podcast subscription fees.

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions
Apple said it will keep up to 30 percent of podcast subscription fees.
Business Wire

In another possible point of conflict, Spotify said Tuesday that its paid platform, which is expected to hit this week, will bypass Apple’s in-app purchase requirements. Instead of paying on its app, Spotify said users will pay for paywalled podcast episodes on Anchor, a podcast platform for creators that’s owned by Spotify.

The cumbersome process could make it hard for Spotify to grow subscribers, as most customers listen on the app, but Spotify sources said the company has plans to streamline it.

Last week, Spotify executives testified before Congress about Apple’s allegedly anticompetitive behavior when it comes to the App Store. Spotify even lodged a formal complaint with the European Union about Apple in 2019 which led to an EU investigation.

Spotify has been rapidly expanding its podcasting platform in the last few years. The company added a slew of major, exclusive podcasts like  “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “The Michelle Obama Podcast” with the former first lady, and a bundle of shows from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

The company has selected a test group of 12 podcasts initially, including “Wild Thing,” a show about strange and unusual people, places or ideas; personal development show “Tiny Leaps, Big Changes”; and meditation podcast “The Mindful Minute.” Those creators will add subscriber-only bonus episodes to their feeds.

The shows will be branded as “Plus” (for example “Planet Money Plus”), and will live alongside the free shows.

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