Spotify to launch podcast subscriptions at no ‘tax’ for creators, report says

Angela Lang / CNET

Spotify next week will unveil its own podcast subscription program, which won’t charge podcasters or take a commission on their subscriptions, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing anonymous people familiar with the subject. The news comes a few days after the competitor Apple revealed its own podcast subscription option, which carries a charge – sometimes called a “tax” – of up to 30% of the subscription price each month.

The program will allow podcasters to set their own prices for subscriptions, the report said, citing one of the anonymous sources. This person added that Spotify listeners who use its iOS app on an Apple device will be redirected out of the app to a website to pay for a podcast subscription, which would bypass Apple’s in-app purchase system that takes a reduction in the value of the transaction.

Spotify did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.

Spotify is one of the biggest and most fervent critics of the power that Apple wields through the dominance of its App Store and in-app shopping system. Apple faces a antitrust investigation in Europe, sparked largely by Spotify’s complaints about Apple’s abuse of power. And Spotify’s chief lawyer attacks Apple just this week as he testified before Congress.

In the past, Spotify has argued that Apple’s App Store prohibits buttons or links in an iOS app that move users to other external payment methods.

For the past three years, Spotify itself has been on a podcasting frenzy. Become the largest music streaming service in the world, it has targeted its next stage of growth in podcasts – an area that Apple dominates so much as the name of the format originally derived from Apple’s iPod. But Spotify’s drive to become a premier destination for non-music audio has helped it continue to grow, most recently bringing in over 345 million listeners worldwide.

Apple largely neglected the podcast market for years, until it was announced this week of its launch. own podcast subscription service to his spring event Tuesday. Paid podcasters subscriptions in Apple’s own standalone podcast app can unlock new content, ad-free listening, early access, and other incentives. Apple’s paid subscription service is expected to be available in 170 countries in May.

Apple will take a 30% commission off the price of a podcast subscription each billing cycle in the first year of each individual subscription; after the first year, the commission drops to 15%. It’s the same fee structure Apple already has in place for apps selling digital products or services – think gaming gems and streaming service subscriptions – with an in-app purchase on an iPhone or iPad.

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