Monday, May 9, 2016

Apple’s Actual Role in Podcasting

John Herrman:

It is, in other words, an industry now, one that Apple essentially gave life to and still dominates. Yet at this moment of triumph for podcasting, concerns are growing in the community about how much Apple actually cares.

Interviews with over two dozen podcasters and people inside Apple reveal a variety of complaints. The podcasters say that they are relegated to wooing a single Apple employee for the best promotion. That sharing on social media is cumbersome. And that for podcasters to make money, they need more information about their listeners, and Apple is in a unique position to provide it. The problems, they say, could even open up an opportunity for a competitor.

Marco Arment (Hacker News):

This New York Times article gets a lot wrong, and both podcast listeners and podcast producers should be clear on Apple’s actual role in podcasting today and what, exactly, big producers are asking for.

Podcasts work nothing like the App Store, and we’re all better off making sure they never head down that road.


Critically, despite having these large roles, Apple never locked out other players, dictated almost any terms to podcasters, or inserted themselves as an intermediary beyond the directory stage.

Federico Viticci:

The takeaway from the NYT story is that Leading Podcast Professionals would love ways to have more data about podcast listening habits as well as monetization features to sell access to podcasts via iTunes.


Right now, the iTunes Store for podcasts is essentially a glorified catalogue of external RSS feeds with show pages, charts, curated sections, and search. And that”s a beautiful thing: there’s little to no barrier to entry. Anyone can make their own podcast feed, host podcast files wherever they want, and Apple’s system will provide users (and other apps) with tools to search and subscribe from a unified location dedicated to podcasts. Ultimately, you own your podcast files, your RSS feeds, and the ads you sell.

Benjamin Mayo:

There’s a possibility Apple’s proactive involvement will be damaging. If I’m right about Apple’s motivation (influx of large corporations), then there’s a good chance independents will get shafted in whatever policies Apple implements. There’s also a chance that it’s a good thing. It’s not out of the question that Apple will add a storefront, so people can subscribe to shows for a monthly rate. Putting to one side the inevitable 30% cut, an easily-accessible subscription model Apple service could open up a new revenue stream for podcasts. More simply, Apple could also improve its podcast marketing and featured content efforts, potentially improving discoverability for good — but low listenership — shows.

Update (2016-05-09): Dave Mark:

It’s hard to make money creating content, whether it be writing, filming, or podcasting. There’s a temptation to hand over the reins, with the hope that a large platform will bring in infrastructure, detailed access to customer usage patterns and, most importantly, a steady paycheck.

Update (2016-05-12): See also: Upgrade.

Update (2016-05-13): Tim Schmitz:

Those responses did a great job of covering things from the podcaster’s perspective, but there’s something else bothering me as a listener. It’s a feeling that podcasting as it stands today, a medium that I get a great deal of enjoyment from, is about to change for the worse. Regardless of whether Apple or any other company caves to their demands, it’s clear that the Big Media world is coming for podcasts, and that doesn’t sound like a good thing.


In fact, the only changes I’m likely to see (hear?) as a listener are ones that will make my experience worse. Suppose, for example, that some shows become exclusive to tailor-made podcast clients that provide analytics data that others don’t. That only makes my life harder.

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