Apple Podcasts is rolling out new features to incentivize podcasters to offer paid subscriptions to listeners on the app. One of those features will — for better or for worse — reveal to podcasters in their private analytics dashboard how many people follow them on Apple Podcasts. Get ready for an ego check!
For whatever reason, follower counts haven’t been visible to creators, though the Apple Podcasts Connect page has shown stats about how many listeners you have, how long people listen before dropping off and how different episodes perform compared to one another.
Some podcasters might notice that their stats on Apple Podcasts Connect are lower than expected, though. The majority of U.S. podcast listeners use Spotify, so these analytics, which only show Apple Podcasts listenership, don’t offer creators a holistic picture of their show’s performance (however, the drop-off rate can be useful information, since that data point isn’t available on distribution platforms like Libsyn).
“Listeners who follow a show want to receive new episodes as they become available, so a show’s followers can serve as an indicator for those likely to subscribe,” Apple wrote in a blog post.
By Apple’s logic, if you notice that you have a lot of followers on their app, you might consider launching paywalled content through their subscription service, which launched less than a year ago. Podcasters hosting exclusive, subscriber-only content agree to pay Apple a 30% cut of their subscription revenue in year one, followed by 15% in year two. But for those who release paywalled content on Spotify, the platform currently isn’t taking a revenue cut, and after two years after its launch, it will take 5%. Other podcasters may choose to monetize their shows in a different way entirely by creating fan memberships on platforms like Patreon, which may include access to private Discord servers that help cultivate a community around a show, as opposed to just offering platform-specific bonus content.
But Apple’s advantage is that its app comes pre-downloaded on your iPhone, so newer podcast listeners may find it easier to subscribe to a show on an app they already have. Apple is so eager to get a chunk of podcasters’ revenue that it’s launching Jump Start, a program that offers podcasters direct guidance from the Apple Podcasts team to develop their subscription offerings. But this guidance is only available to members of the Apple Podcasters Program, AKA, people who have already opted into selling a subscription on Apple Podcasts by paying a $19.99 annual fee.
A few more minor updates for those enrolled in the program: now, you can upload .mp3 files as subscriber-only audio (previously, you could only upload .wav and .flac), and you can customize the subscription banner that appears on your show.
All updates will roll out today, except for that tantalizing follower count, which will appear on creators’ Apple Podcasts Connect dashboards next month.