In Apple's live-streamed presentation on April 20, 2021, they announced several new products and offerings. But in only a couple minutes, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned Apple Podcasts with announcements that will affect the whole industry.
Disclaimer: This episode contains my live-streamed initial thoughts, along with consenting participants, recorded shortly after Apple's presentation. Any misrepresentations are accidental.
“Subscribe” changed to “follow”
The first change is something we've known about for a few months. With iOS 14.5 and macOS 11.3, Apple is changing the label for getting episodes automatically from “subscribe” to “follow.” While I and many other podcasters rarely saw issues with the word “subscribe,” frequent studies and experiences have demonstrated that most people think you have to pay when you subscribe. For example, subscribing to a newspaper, streaming entertainment, Internet service, and such.
But while I feel like the word “follow” implies a more personal thing, like following a person or a brand on social media, I think it removes the potential misunderstanding about any involved costs. Spotify and a couple other podcast apps already use the word “follow,” and Twitch even already uses both “subscribe” and “follow” on the same platform to mean different things: subscribe to pay the content creator, or follow to simply see when they publish new content.
I suspect YouTube and other podcast apps will soon follow suit (pun unavoidable).
I also really like this change because for a long time, I've wanted to add a new feature to My Podcast Reviews to help podcasters grow their audiences by providing a smart link with the right podcast options. I quickly registered FollowthePodcast.com and we launched that as an included new feature on My Podcast Reviews!
So even though you might still be struggling to say “Apple Podcasts” instead of “iTunes,” I think switching from saying “subscribe” to “follow” will not only match current and future options, but maybe even help you get more listeners because they'll understand quicker.
Premium subscriptions in Apple Podcasts
If you didn't already read it, here's the emailed announcement from Apple. I recommend you read all the links, too.
Dear Podcast Creator,
We are thrilled to share the following announcements and updates.
Introducing Apple Podcasts Subscriptions
Starting today, creators in more than 170 countries and regions can offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts, which will be accessible to listeners next month. Creators set the pricing for each subscription, which are billed monthly by default, and define the benefits, such as ad-free listening, early or exclusive access to new series, or access to additional or archival content. Creators can also offer annual billing and provide free trials and sample episodes.
Creators interested in offering subscriptions can log in to Apple Podcasts Connect and enroll in the new Apple Podcasters Program for an annual fee, which provides access to all of the tools required to build and distribute premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts.
New Tools in Apple Podcasts Connect
Also beginning today, all creators can access an updated Apple Podcasts Connect dashboard, which includes new features that make it easier to manage your content on Apple Podcasts.
With Apple Podcasts Connect, you can now create channels, which are groups of shows that can be personalized with unique titles, descriptions, and artwork. Just like shows, you can offer free channels, which make it easy for listeners to discover all of your shows, plus paid and freemium channels through Apple Podcasts Subscriptions.
Additionally, you can now view and edit podcast metadata, schedule and manage show availability for each country and region, and organize shows into channels right from the dashboard. With Analytics, you can gain insight into how listeners are engaging with your shows through new performance metrics and visualization tools, such as engaged listeners, listeners by city, and the new episodes performance graph. Apple Podcasts Connect also now offers a robust system for managing multiple users and roles, making it easy to invite collaborators to manage your subscriptions, channels, and shows.
Apple Podcasts for Creators
Apple Podcasts for Creators is a new destination where you’ll find resources for developing, marketing, and managing your content on Apple Podcasts. Explore articles, tools, and guides that will help you learn the basics and stay up to date with the latest podcast news.
Best regards,“Introducing Apple Podcasts Subscriptions and more” sent from Apple Podcast on April 20, 2021
The Apple Podcasts team
IMPORTANT: Own your directory listing and email address!
Now, even more than before, it's crucial that you have access to the email address(es) in your RSS feed. Some podcast-hosting providers (like SoundCloud and formerly Anchor) default to use their email address, but probably let you easily change it to your own.
You also must own your podcast catalog listing or else you won't have access to these new features (or the deeper stats Apple has been providing for years). If you worked with an agency when launching your podcast, they can help you get things in order. If you let Anchor submit and own your podcast-catalog listing, you'll need to follow these instructions to reclaim ownership.
Apple Podcasts on Android?
Now that Apple has a direct way for them to make money from podcasts (since they get our annual program subscription fee and a fair portion of the subscription payments), I think they now have a direct financial incentive to bring Apple Podcasts to other platforms. Not only to split up iTunes on Windows like they did on macOS, but also to finally bring Apple Podcasts to Android!
They didn't announce anything about this, but I've been publicly predicting this for years, and I suspect we'll finally see it happen in 2021 or shortly after!
New hardware also great for podcasters
Apple is going “Oprah” with their new Apple Silicon chip, M1: “You get an M1! And you get an M1! Everybody gets an M1!”
The new iPad Pro and 24″ iMac have Apple's incredible new M1 chip that's faster and far more energy efficient. Not only does this mean you can get things done faster, but they said the new 24″ iMac is so energy- and temperature-efficient that its fans run at only 10 dB under normal load! That will provide a practically silent machine for podcasting and maybe even remain silent for live-streaming!
There's a lot more to this announcement that Apple gave only a couple minutes in their presentation. I and other podcasting-industry professionals will be talking about this for quite a while!
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