Do podcast subscriptions make sense as a monetization strategy

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Apple Podcast Subscriptions are now a thing. You can still offer your podcast for free or as part of a freemium model or a subscription. Let’s dive in what this means for businesses producing podcasts.

In this article, I will briefly share what’s happening and then give you thoughts on why you likely don’t have to worry about Apple Podcast subscriptions for now.

The original news

Apple Podcasts, which is still one of the more popular podcasting platforms, has announced a new program where podcast creators can now submit their shows as subscriptions. Here are the three steps outlined by Apple:

Apple Podcast subscriptions

To get started you have to create an Apple Podcast Connect account and add your podcast. Mine is already on Apple and I didn’t see an immediately quick way to tie that into my Apple Podcast Connect account.

The strategy and your goals!

It’s not a bad strategy if your podcast has a big enough following. Also, keep in mind that networks often prioritize new features. For example, when Instagram rolled out Reels they definitely pushed them in front of people, and with that gave more reach to accounts that were publishing Reels.

If you already have a good-sized following and downloads on Apple Podcasts, subscriptions might be worth looking into.

But, at the end of the day it depends on what the strategy and goal behind your podcast is. That could include monetization through:

  • direct sales like sponsorships, ads and now perhaps Apple Podcast Subscriptions
  • indirect sales like building up brand awareness for your products and services

So if your goals fit into the first category, offering your podcast as a subscription might be worth it. The second one doesn’t seem to be a fit in my opinion as you want to grow your audience as big as possible. With a subscription there will be a drop off.

Not all podcasts, including all of mine, don’t usually fit into those categories. I say usually, because I do sell sponsorships to inbound leads and even have a published media kit.

Other goals include:

  • connection building. Some podcasters invite prospects on their show and it’s more about that connection as the the listeners.
  • learning new tools
  • building your content marketing program

When I first started the Business Storytelling Show I truly just launched it to learn how to produce, publish and distribute a podcast. Today, it’s on 18 channels including all Apple, Spotify, Google, Pandora, Amazon, etc. Then I expanded it to a live version and now stream most episode recordings to Amazon, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

My first goal with my own podcast is learning. I also use what I learn to produce “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.”

The reality of podcasting

The reality of podcasting for most brands is that it’s hard to get a good-sized audience quickly. Especially for brands that are just starting their podcasts. Podcast channels are new to most brands. Remember when all of us started to build our Twitter audience, or Facebook or whatever? It took time. It’s not a fast process.

This is also one of the reasons I wrote “Going Live: Livestream your podcast to reach more people.” One way to really improve podcast performance is to send the show to as many channels as possible. That includes:

  • Livestream channels, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, YouTube, Twitch, etc.
  • Push it to all podcast channels – I’m seeing about 18 major ones currently and more are popping up.
  • Use the content on your website in the form of blog posts, articles, landing pages, etc.

So if the goal of your podcast is to raise brand awareness – in whatever form that comes for you – putting it behind a subscription wall is probably, most likely not the way to go.

Read next: Do paywalls actually work?

Some podcasters would prefer emails over smallish subscriptions

Depending on your strategy, smallish subscription fees might not be worth shutting out all potential listeners (and in turn prospects). It would be nice to have the option of allowing users to pay with their data so to speak.


Apple is likely not going to offer this option, is my guess. They already have the data. Why do they need to turn it over?

Apple Podcast Subscriptions wrap

At the end of the day, every podcaster needs to decide this strategy on their own. Just keep your goals in mind, why your podcast exists and then go from there. One final question to consider as well:

If your podcast is on 18 channels and you livestream it, why would anyone pay for it on Apple?

Unless a brand is thinking of producing an exclusive version for Apple, which seems like a lot of work. That’s ultimately what Amazon Kindle Vella required. You can submit short content assets that people can then read for a few. When I tried to submit an existing blog post, Amazon declined it because it was already freely available on the web. The same could easily apply to Apple Podcast subscriptions.

Listen to my podcast