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Using Spotify for your podcasts just became sweeter, it seems, as the music and podcast streaming platform on Monday announced that it will be allowing podcasters to release subscription-only content pertaining to their shows. It will soon be launching a paid podcast subscription in the United States, along with some select podcast partners (particularly those hosting on podcast creation platform Anchor) and will gradually roll out the feature to other podcasters and countries over the next few months.

So far, the list of shows that will be a part of this test drive of sorts by Spotify, includes the likes of Mindful in Minutes, Big Changes, and Tiny Leaps, with ad-free versions being made available through NPR. However, the catch as of now is that out of all the shows that are set to go into subscription mode, not one is owned solely by Spotify.
The company has rolled out a waitlist, allowing podcasters who wish to create subscription-only content to sign up.

For the first two years after its launch, Spotify will not be charging a single penny from podcasters who opt for the subscription mode, and will begin charging a 5% cut on subscription revenues only from 2023. However, even as of now, podcasters will have to pay the cost of transaction fees though Stripe, Spotify’s official payment partner. Nevertheless, the 5% deal is quite lucrative, especially when compared to what Apple will be charging through its recently announced podcast service. Spotify will be giving its podcast partners three different subscription offers to choose from: the $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99 formats.

The paid content will be locked away, quite literally, by means of a lock icon located at the place where the “Play” button normally exists. For unlocking a show, subscribers will have to redirect to the Anchor webpage of that particular show. This link will be made available by podcasters anywhere on their channel, be it in their bio, or in the show notes. This, however, also implies that Spotify won’t be allowing potential subscribers to subscribe directly within the app itself, and so, navigating towards the Anchor page might become tiresome for users. This offers a potential drawback as compared to Apple’s alternative, which will allow you to directly hit “Subscribe” within the app itself. In hindsight though, this might be a trick to evade having to pay Apple Inc. for any subscriptions that get sold under the terms of its App Store.

Spotify will allow its users to listen to the subscription content directly inside the app, or even in third-party apps through private RSS feeds. Another quirk is that subscribers will remain anonymous, and podcasters will not receive any information as regards to their name, email addresses, and the like.

Mike Mignano, co-founder of Anchor, expressed his views on the same, saying, “It’s crucial to our model that we explore ways for creators to connect deeper with their subscribers, so you can anticipate us to be sharing more in the space soon.” He also revealed that the podcasts need not be owned by Spotify exclusively. He further divulged that hosting via Anchor is still free, and tends to remain that way, before adding that adding subscription content should not cause extra work to curators, as it is simply an “additive, and in no way as additional, or burdensome.”

This is quite important, since Anchor happens to be the only way of now that podcasters can launch subscription-only content onto Spotify.

Nevertheless, Spotify has also revealed that allowing podcasters who already have subscription content on other platforms to bring it to Spotify, might be on the cards. It however, hasn’t as yet explained how that will be brought about.