Apple Podcasts vs. Spotify: which new subscription service is better?

Apple Podcasts and Spotify have both released paid subscription services where podcasters can provide their subscribers with exclusive content. But how do they work, and which one is better? In this episode, Jason and Cee Cee break down how they work and how podcasters can use them to their advantage.


Jason Gillikin: Welcome to the Earfluence Podcast, which is a podcast about podcasting from a podcast production company. I’m your host, Jason Gillikin CEO of Earfluence, and with me as always is co-host Cee Cee Huffman, drawer of artwork, maker of podcasts, social media expert, content strategist, what’s going on Cee Cee?

Cee Cee Huffman: Hello. It’s a good day so far. We’ve had a meeting this morning, a meeting after this, so lots of meetings, lots of new exciting things happening, somebody just lost a tooth. It’s been an eventful afternoon.

Jason Gillikin: Yes. Right before this recording, we had actually pressed record, and my eight year old comes in.

And shows Cee Cee the missing tooth, complete with blood dripping down her mouth, and Cee Cee almost threw up.

Cee Cee Huffman: It was very, yeah, very like, special effects almost. It was very, it looks, it was so real that it was fake. I don’t know how to describe it.

I don’t do well with blood though. I can’t, I don’t like shows, TV shows anything where people get hurt. That’s just, it’s not for me. My mom really wanted me to be a doctor, obviously, that did not happen for a lot of reasons, but one of them is like, I see one drop of blood and I’m just out. I’m out completely.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, same, same. So, I am such a wimp with that stuff. I mean, I literally almost passed out with every single one of our children being born, so.

Cee Cee Huffman: I don’t even want to think about that.

Jason Gillikin: No. I mean, well, but Cee Cee, it is really embarrassing when I’m not the one giving birth at all. I’m not a doctor by any means. And yet, I am the one with the cold sweats and about to pass out.

Like it’s not my finest moment, and now it’s on a podcast. All right.

Cee Cee Huffman: All right. Anyways, what we’re talking about today is not anything having to do with that because we’re not doctors, we’re podcasters. So we’re talking about Apple podcasts and Spotify having subscription services. So let’s pivot completely, and talk about that instead.

Jason Gillikin: All right. That is, that is a complete 180, but yes, more relevant to, to our audience who’s like, “I didn’t come in to hear about people passing out at the sight of blood.”

Cee Cee Huffman: Right.

Jason Gillikin: So Apple podcasts recently launched a subscription service, and then Spotify, a week later, you know, decided to launch their own subscription service.

So you’ve been reading up on it, talk about what Apple podcasts has done and then, and then what Spotify has done.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah, I want to start off by saying that I anticipate that Spotify was obviously planning this move as well for a long time, it’s just Apple happen to get theirs out first. I saw some stuff online where people were talking about, you know, Spotify is doing this because Apple just did it.

Like, there’s no way that they just turned all of this around in a week. Like, they’ve also been thinking this and I mean, there’s a lot of reasons for them to be thinking this because they’ve also just recently pulled Joe Rogan from everywhere else to specifically Spotify. And so that move, you know, trying to get more creators to do that same thing is of course going to like lend to a subscription service.

So I want to start with that disclaimer. But basically, they work kind of like Patreon, but just for that specific platform for podcasting, where you can sign up to pay like a monthly fee, on top of like, for Spotify, on top of the monthly fee that you already pay just to have Spotify in the first place.

And then Apple podcasts, just a monthly fee per podcast that you subscribe to and you get like bonus content for it. Something I think is interesting is, at least with Apple podcasts, it seems there’s no way for the actual creators to interact with the people who are listening to their podcasts other than exactly through the podcast, which I think is interesting because normally that’s a perk of, you know, having this exclusive content is you also get that exclusive interaction with the creator, which they kind of don’t seem to have. That’s kind of all over the place, but that’s pretty much the general gist of what’s going on.

Jason Gillikin: So is that then different with Spotify?

Cee Cee Huffman: I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I know that that what I saw of people were upset that Apple did not give that option.

Jason Gillikin: So if I remember right from Apple podcasts the, the podcaster pays $20 per year to Apple podcast, to Apple, and then there’s going to be options for the users. And is it right that they can choose just how much to charge their users, like any amount?

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah, so they can set how much they want to charge people to subscribe. But at the same time, Apple’s going to take 30% of that for the first year, 30% of whatever they make, and then 15% after that. So I think the thing that I think about Apple’s that is interesting is that you —I just don’t see the incentive to want to join it when other things exist, because it pigeonholes you to that platform.

And then on top of that, that you have to pay, even though it is only $20, you still have to pay. And then they’re taking 30% of what you actually do make with them. Like, I guess maybe if your listenership on there in particular killer is huge, maybe, but like you could reach more listeners, other places, I, personally, I don’t know how well it’s all going to work.

Jason Gillikin: We’ll see. I mean, I think it’s the ease of being able to use Apple podcasts. So like, you know, you already have, if you’re a podcaster, you already have an Apple podcasts account that you can set it up, and this is important for a podcasters to know, is that you have to go through Apple podcasts, so it’s not your host. You have to go through Apple podcast to mark what shows or what episodes are the premi model and how much you want to charge. So if you’re going to Libsyn, it’s not available there. If you’re going into Transistor, it’s not available there.

So it, it becomes somewhere where you have to now log into Apple podcasts where you didn’t really have to before other than  to set it up. Whereas with something like a, like a Patreon, that does take a little while to set it up. You know, maybe that’s more convenient and they’re certainly taken less money, but yeah, you’re right, Cee Cee, like we’ll figure out, you know, how, how effective this is and how popular this becomes.

Cee Cee Huffman: Right. And I will say that Spotify, this article from Vulture claims that the tools will help, like creators can use the tools to distribute like the same kind of paid listener experience to other platforms in addition to Spotify, I don’t really know what that means or how it will do it, but that kind of solves the problem that I was having with Apple making it, so it’s really just Apple, which is what Apple does best. But then on top of that, like, I think, well, people are already paying for Spotify are they going to pay additional for Spotify?

But then I think like I pay for YouTube premi because I watch a lot of podcasts on YouTube, and I do pay some subscription to some of these YouTube podcasts I listened to. So like, that’s exactly what I do there. And I think it’s also interesting to note that YouTube has a very similar model to Spotify there.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. Well, the reason that Spotify, the Spotify premi, the Spotify Spotify subscription service that we’re talking about today, that they can offer it on different platforms as well is because they own Anchor. So if you want, if you want your podcast episode or show to be part of this premi model, you need to be hosted on Anchor, but from there, Anchor is a hosting platform that will then distribute to Spotify, to Apple podcasts, to Pocket Cast, to Alexa, to all of the podcast platforms.

So, that’s how Spotify is not going to be exclusive as a podcast provider,  although it will be exclusive as a podcast host because they need, they need to use Anchor if you want to use this podcast subscription model. But Spotify was very aggressive, obviously, in undercutting, Apple podcasts pricing.

So, did you see how much Spotify is charging for this? Zero. So Apple podcasts is charging $20 and taking 30%, Spotify is charging zero and taking zero.

Cee Cee Huffman: Which we love.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, yeah. Now, I, I don’t know if realistically, we can move podcasts over to Anchor from other, other hosting services, but maybe, and we actually have a podcast now that is on Anchor that we can test this out on.

So we’ve, we’ve got a new podcast that already existed and it’s, it was already hosted on Anchor. And so, we’re going to be able to try that that’s going to be the Founded Connect podcast, by the way. That’s what the on Anchor. So, you know, let’s go, let’s go over. Well, do you want anything else that you wanted to unpack as far as what exactly this is?

Cee Cee Huffman: I don’t think so. I will just say I am a little bit biased because I am definitely a Spotify person. Like, I prefer Spotify, and so I think I’m definitely on their team. I’m also very much for creators getting to make the money from the content that they create, and I think that there’s something that really just kind of irritates me, that they’re going to charge and then take 30% for the content that they’re making.

Like, I just think that’s kind of silly, but that’s just me.

Jason Gillikin: Okay. But when you’re listening to a podcast, if it’s not on YouTube, where are you listening to it?

Cee Cee Huffman: Spotify. I used to be on Apple podcast. Yeah. I’ve moved over to Spotify completely. Honestly, after, I would say probably like last fall, because I used to not like them to mix.

I was like, “I don’t want my music and my podcasts in one place.” I think it’s just because I wanted to be difficult, to be quite honest. But now it’s, it’s partially too, because I like to use it on my computer and Spotify’s app to use on the computer, I think is a lot easier to use an iTunes, which I think is funny ’cause I have a Mac, but it is.

Jason Gillikin: So I, I cannot get away from Apple podcasts, I think.  And you know, one thing that’s so interesting is, well, and so now, do you pay for Spotify? Do you pay for?

Cee Cee Huffman: I do. Yeah, I’ve been, I was an early adopter Spotify. I think I got Spotify in like 2013, like the, like a really long time ago.

Jason Gillikin: So I’m trying not to pay for it, and I don’t know if I would get more ads within podcasts if I chose to still go with the free Spotify. So, maybe that’s why I’m on Apple podcasts or if it’s just habit and I just don’t know how to, how to shift out of it. Yeah. But one thing that’s so interesting is that Spotify, I mean, over the past couple of years, has just been so aggressive with podcasting and taking share away from Apple podcasts.

I mean, you see it with their acquisition of Anchor, with their active acquisition of Gimlet, with their acquisition of The Ringer, Megaphone, I believe they, they bought. So, I mean, they’ve been so aggressive with the podcasting space in general and grab that market share away from, from Apple podcasts, which still has the lead.

But honestly, it used to be like, you know, we would see in some of our older podcasts that it was like 90, 95% of all the downloads were coming from Apple podcasts, or it would be like Apple podcast slash iTunes, and somehow they were mixed. And, and now, I mean, gosh, it’s like closer to 50%. So, they’ve, they’ve, they’ve been very aggressive with this and I’m not surprised at all that they are aggressive with undercutting Apple podcasts’ price points.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah, I agree with that completely. And I also think that. I mean, in terms of like music, too, Spotify is just, I mean, I think it’s the best place to get music from and Apple music, you know, doesn’t do quite as well. The only thing Apple really kind of had over Spotify at this point was the fact that there were so many podcasts, so they had to.

And so now that they’re undercutting that they’re kind of, they’re doing a lot, obviously Spotify is not going to destroy Apple, but their like music and podcasts aren’t doing quite as well.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, it’d be interesting if Apple podcasts, like, you know what, this is something that we’re not amazing at. Let’s focus on.

Let’s not put any more money into this.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah. Well, they’re just going to take money from other people instead.

Jason Gillikin: There you go. Well, let’s talk about use cases for this. So, you know, how could podcasters listening to this, how could they use, you know, whether they choose to use Apple podcast’s subscription model, whether they choose to use Spotify’s subscription model, what are some use cases that you can think of that would be beneficial to their users and to, and for them to, to make money as well?

Cee Cee Huffman: I mean, bonus episodes, I think are obvious. Like, episodes that are specific to like a topic, or maybe even like, they can be shorter episodes, just think other pieces of content that other people can’t get. I think about the clients that we have, you know,  we’ve tried, we’re going to be starting like courses with some of the clients that we have.

And so like, getting some of that additional knowledge out of them that only the people who pay get like that makes a lot of sense. In terms of other things, I subscribe to some of these people on YouTube, like pay them like $4.99 a month or something like that, and I get all of their episodes a day early.

So, I get the episodes before they come out and I also get them without any ads on them, so like the ad reads are cut out. So that’s a way to do it. Maybe they get an exclusive version without the ad reads, and they get it a day before everyone else. Those are the two off the top of my head. What else do you think I’m missing?

Jason Gillikin: No, that’s good. And I was trying to think of specifically for some of our shows. So like, you know, Founded Connect. That’s the podcast for Raleigh Founded, and they are a coworking space. They will have these webinars, sometimes in person, sometimes over Air Meet or, or Zoom, with these fantastic guests.

So, like they’re doing one this week, as we’re recording this, it’ll be tomorrow with Danya Perry. Danya, we know, fantastic. But they don’t, they don’t have a plan right now to put that onto a podcast platform.

It’s there for the webinar, and then it’s gone. Right. As a bonus episode of Founder Connect, which is interviews with people in the, in the Raleigh Founded space and just kind of getting to know them, as a bonus episode, maybe they could put their webinars on there and you know, that could be potentially just exclusive to the Raleigh Founded members, or maybe it’s exclusive to the Raleigh Founded members plus, you know, $2 or whatever it is for anybody else that wants to listen to it. So, you know, that’s the type of thing that could be used for this subscription model as you’re kind of testing out, “Okay. Now, that I’m giving away all this content for free, is my audience active? Like, is my audience going to put their, put their money down?

Like, are they willing to pay whether it’s a small amount or a large amount for what I’m putting out there?” So yeah, those are all the things that they can test out. And to your point about developing a course. So, one of our podcasts, First Check with Tim McLaughlin, he’s a venture capitalist who is training angel investors on how to write their First Check. Well, with this podcast, you know, as a, an audience and we’re going to put a course together, we are putting a course together for angel investors where he’s given just this premi content and coaching future investors on exactly what needs to be done.

So, what are the right questions that need to be asked? What should term sheets look like? So it’s all this just great content, but he’s also thinking of doing a webinar where all the companies that they’re invested in, they are like, the founders are peppering him with questions. So, could that be premi content and it kind of tests a path to, “Okay, well, we’ve got free, we’ve got a little bit of money and then we’ve got, you know, more money for people that are really focused on how truly to be an angel investor.”

So is it like that gateway to the next step?

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah, it could definitely be helpful. Like you said, for testing, like how many people are we going to have interested in this? Who is going to be interested in this? Like, it can kind of help you gauge whether or not for him, like it could help us gauge how or when to take that next step into doing a fully developed course based on how many people are just interested in hearing more that  not, everyone gets to hear.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. And I’m excited about, you know, what will it look like for ad-free? So, you know, some of the bigger podcasts that I listen to, the first three minutes is ads. And it’ll be like three or four ads in a row. And then there’s probably like three or four breaks with, with ads. So I try to think like, “Okay, well how much would I be willing to pay so I didn’t have to press that 30 second button so often? And, and I don’t know, like, I don’t know that me personally, I’m willing to do that. For some reason paying the five bucks or whatever. It’s, even if it’s a such a small amount of money, like less than a lunch, like I’m just not willing to do it for whatever reason.

It’s so silly.  I don’t know. That’s a, that’s another conversation in my psyche, I guess. Right.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah. I think that if that were the only thing that I would just getting out of something, then that wouldn’t yeah, I wouldn’t pay just for that, but if that is like a bonus perk of something else that I also get that I want, like episodes early or something like that, then it’s just like a nice you know, decoration, addition.

Jason Gillikin: And I, and I wonder for like a podcast, like a Weddings for Real, for example, where, you know, there’s let’s say 1500 downloads for, for each episode. And it’s a very loyal audience, you know, would, would people be willing to pay for early access? Or in the host, my wife, Megan, she’s got a, an online membership site. And so like would giving early access to anybody in her membership,  is that attractive to getting more members? And then like, so giving that away for free, and then people who don’t want that full membership, you know, they can pay, you know, whatever it is, $5 a month or $2 a month or something like that for early access?

I don’t know. It’s something that I’ll be curious to test these things out just to see, you know, what’s working and what’s not. Is it ad-free? Is it early episodes? Is it bonus episodes? Is it bonus seasons, right? Like we’re doing a new podcast now with The Diversity Movement called Winning with Diversity, but is it something that, because it is just so focused on how you can be the diversity champion in your business, and it’s got that business case for it, are companies and individuals willing to put down a little bit of money for this content? Whereas Diversity Deyond the Checkbox, it was larger conversations around diversity in general? So anyway, I, I’m really curious to see how this all develops, especially for our clients, because there’s so many things that we can test out for them.

Cee Cee Huffman: Right. I think the type of bonus content that you have completely depends on the type of podcast that you have, and it completely depends on the type of audience that you have.

So there’s no, there’s just, I mean, there’s ideas, but ultimately it’s going to vary from one to another. Like the one that, where I get it early, they talk about current events. So, of course getting that early is going to be attractive because I’m going to know what’s going on before everybody else does.

You know, like, of course that’s attractive, but like if it’s evergreen content, like, do I care if I get it a day early? Honestly, no, because it doesn’t really matter. So like, it fully depends on you, what you make, what you do, your audience, what they like, like it’s tough, which is why I wish that you could interact with them in some way, if you’re going to do this, because then you can find out what’s working and what’s not, but.

That’s not really the case with either of them. It seems. Yeah.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. Right now you still have to take that extra step in seeking people out on Instagram, on LinkedIn or wherever else, which, you know, it is not easy to do. And if you have to work, if you have to work too hard for it, you’re just not going to do it.

Cee Cee Huffman: And I think that it’s silly as well, because clearly what this move is, is to, you know, keep people from things like Patreon and keep them on their app. But, if there’s no way for me to interact with my listeners, then I’m going to try and get them to another app. So like, that just seems like you’re kind of defeating the point.

Like, yeah, maybe we’re not going to Patreon, but if I want to talk to them, I’m going to have to like go to Twitter, go to Instagram and like, you’re I’m just, you’re just taking me off the app again, which this is supposed to stop me from doing, but.

I wonder if that’s

Jason Gillikin: next step, you know, I think Apple would have a long way to go to have some sort of connection tool there.

But at the same time, like they could do it. They’ve got the money behind it and Spotify, of course they are very aggressive. So, you know, if this is a problem, they will figure out how to solve it.

Cee Cee Huffman: If Spotify puts out first, I think Spotify is going to win. That’s just my prediction because to your point earlier, when you were talking about how on Apple podcasts, you can set whatever price you want, Spotify, you do have like set constraints.

It is what is it? 2.99, 4.99, 7.99. So that’s not that great because that, that is a constraint. But I feel like still, if they figure out how, a way like, for people to comment or interact or whatever, in some way first, then I feel like people are going to want to use their service more.

Jason Gillikin: So is that monthly rates?

So it was like three, five and $8 a month, essentially. Okay. Well, that’s interesting too, because that way you can’t charge per episode, really. It is a little bit constrictive, but at the same time, like it, they’re just testing it right now. And they’re just-

Cee Cee Huffman: You have to sign up to be on a wait list for it anyway, currently, like you can’t just get on it, so.

Jason Gillikin: Oh, okay. All right. Well now we know, and then with Apple, anything goes right now.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah. It seems like it, from what I’ve read, it seems like.

Jason Gillikin: Okay. All right, well, we’ll have to check this out and we will see how this goes over the next few months. Like I can, I can see Spotifybuying another company to, to add that social element that, that you talked about, right?

I mean, that that could happen. I can see Apple podcasts being like, “Well, we didn’t quite get this right. Let’s just slash this in half or just, you know, completely, you know, reduce or eliminate the cost of this to the creators because it’s market share.” So yeah, the, the podcast Wars are on, and we’ll  see what, what happens here.

So I think that’s, a lot of good information. Thank you for doing the research on this. And, if, if you, as a listener, have tried this and, either as a user or as a creator, let us know. We’d be happy to, to hear from you. Leave a comment, find us on. Well, there’s no social media platform on, on Apple podcasts, as we talked about, you’ll find us on social media where we’re at Earfluence media. Shoot us an email

Cee Cee Huffman: Send us a smoke signal.

Jason Gillikin: Send us a smoke signal, do a podcast about us.

That’d be awesome.

Leave a review. Yes. Yeah. And that’s one thing that I’ve noticed too, is that reviews are harder and harder to come by because Apple podcasts has lost market share.

So they’re not people aren’t as passionate about going back to Apple podcasts. If they’re listening to something on Spotify already, and there’s not a great place to leave a review reviews there. So anyway, that’s all for this episode of the Earfluence podcast. Thanks again, Cee Cee for doing the research and giving us all the information here.

Everybody, I already gave out some of our contact information, but social media, we’re at Earfluence media. Contact us. If you’re interested in full service podcast production, where we’re and visit our website as well to listen to all of our podcasts where we’re at For Cee Cee Huffman, I’m Jason Gillikin, and we’ll see you next time on the Earfluence Podcast.

Full Episode Transcript

The Earfluence Podcast is a production of Earfluence Media and is hosted by Jason Gillikin and Cee Cee Huffman.

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