Sony Music applauds Apple’s new podcast subscription launch

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Spotify, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in podcasting over the past few years, sent out a user survey in November indicating that it is considering launching a standalone podcast subscription service.

Apple just beat Spotify. This week, tech giant Apple unveiled Podcasts Subscriptions, what it calls a “global marketplace for listeners to discover premium subscriptions offered by their favorite creators alongside millions of free shows on Apple Podcasts.”

Starting in May, Apple users in 170 countries will have premium podcast subscriptions available.

Apple says these subscriptions will include a number of perks curated by the developers, such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series.

Citing a source familiar with Apple’s podcast strategy, Vox / Recode reports that podcast publishers can sell their own subscriptions starting at 49 cents (in the US), with Apple getting 30% in the first year and 15% thereafter % less profit achieved.

Vox / Recode adds that podcasters don’t have to sell their shows as Apple exclusives, they have to make it clear what content they are distributing elsewhere.

Apple’s official release announcing the news includes quotes from executives of various media and entertainment brands who have welcomed the launch of the new service.

Some of these companies are Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia by PRX, QCODE, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and The Athletic.

Dennis Kooker, President Global Digital Business and US Sales at Sony Music Entertainment, is one of them.

Kooker praised the new subscription feature and said, “Apple is putting developers first in their approach to the subscription model.”

“Apple puts developers first in their approach to the subscription model.”

Dennis Kooker, Sony Music Entertainment

He adds, “Offering subscriptions gives consumers new flexibility and options and is an important addition to helping developers better monetize their works.

“All of this will lead to more investment and even better shows for podcast fans.”

Sony Music is the only major music company listed in Apple’s subscription announcement.

(It would be a mystery to us not to notice: this is an announcement made just days after the announcement of an exclusive podcast development deal with Apple rival Spotify, in which these two companies jointly develop a number of original podcasts become .)

“We’re excited to introduce this powerful new platform to developers around the world, and we can’t wait to hear what they’re doing with it.”

Eddy Cue, Apple

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in Apple’s announcement: “Fifteen years ago, Apple made podcasts mainstream, providing developers with a world-class, open platform to educate hundreds of millions of listeners around the world to entertain and inspire.

“Today, Apple Podcasts is the best place for listeners to discover and enjoy millions of great shows. We’re proud to lead the next chapter in podcasting with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions.

“We’re excited to introduce this powerful new platform to developers around the world, and we can’t wait to hear what they’re doing with it.”

Sony Music Entertainment has been investing heavily in podcasts for some time.

In May 2019, the large music group founded a joint venture with podcast makers Adam Davidson and Laura Mayer to develop original programs and find new talent.

In November 2019, McKay’s production company Hyperobject Industries and Three Uncanny Four Productions (the company founded by Davidson, Mayer and Sony Music) signed an exclusive multi-year agreement to create, produce and distribute scripted and non-scripted podcast programs.

By the end of 2019, Sony Music had also named a dedicated team to lead its global podcast strategy and made a strategic investment in podcast production house Neon Hum to create a creative partnership to develop original podcast content.

In the UK, just two months after setting up a joint venture with renowned British podcast creator Renay Richardson, Sony Music redoubled its podcast strategy, appointing Adam Cardew, formerly Digital Director of Sony Music UK’s 4th Floor Creative, as its new Vice President, Podcasting & creative strategy.

In early 2020, UK-based independent audio producer Somethin ‘Else and Sony Music formed a global content partnership to develop shows.

Sony is said to have even held acquisition talks last year with Los Angeles-based podcast publisher Wondery, which publishes hit podcasts like Dirty John, Dr. Death, Business Wars, and The Shrink Next Door.

Wondery was eventually sold to Amazon Music in December, and interestingly, Universal Music Group signed a partnership with then-independent Wondery in April 2019 to develop premium original podcasts. It is not currently clear what will happen to this partnership after the acquisition of Amazon.Music business worldwide

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