We’ve covered Spotify’s move into podcasting multiple times over the past year. Spotify has spent millions of dollars to acquire content and they’ve built out an entire portal for shows to manage their content and view statistics. It’s clear that they are here to stay. I’ve even noticed non-technology focused advertising will now say, “Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.” Side note: I hate when someone says “Find our show on iTunes” as that helps almost no one. The data I hear is that across the industry is that Spotify makes up 10% of the market now while Apple is still at 60%. Apple’s market share is likely to keep shrinking as other players grow, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Today, I want to explain why we aren’t headed towards a Spotify vs Apple Podcasts war.
Spotify and Apple certainly have no love lost when it comes to music. The anti-trust battles are looming, and I am sure both companies want to avoid prolonged legal conflicts. In podcasting, because the industry is so young, Spotify’s focus is a good thing for the industry (especially for creators). While Apple Podcasts is installed on every iOS and macOS (running Catalina) device, Spotify is approaching 200 million free users, and 125 million paid users. As they begin to promote podcasting heavily, that will grow the industry. As someone who loves podcasting, I want new people to discover podcasts. Anyone that has an Android phone, Chromebook, macOS, iPhone, iPad, Windows PC, etc. can now listen to podcasts on Spotify. While I love Apple Podcasts, and how much they promote the industry, I know that Spotify can help reach people Apple can’t.
I know there was a lot of concern after Spotify purchased Gimlet that they would move away from the RSS standard for podcasting. After seeing how they’ve built out their creator portal, it’s clear they still believe in the open market. While they aren’t using Apple’s API to import their shows, they have built out a way for artists to submit their show based on RSS and manage it. Their portal is very similar to Google’s podcasting portal. Once you submit your show to Spotify, there is nothing else you have to do.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t love the overall experience of the podcast section of Spotify. It’s not that it’s unusable, but imagine if Apple Podcasts was stuck inside of Apple Music? It’s going to be hard for Spotify to continue to build out the platform while keeping an excellent music and podcast experience. I understand why they built it into their main app as that is part of their ability to increase market share. If users were required to download a separate app, they likely would be at a fraction of the same market share. I am going to be way more critical of the experience than your average person, though. I subscribe to 40+ shows, so I am not the ideal person for Spotify Podcasts. If I am guessing, Spotify is seeing an average subscription per user at five shows. It’s perfect for that.
Wrap-up on Spotify vs. Apple Podcasts
If you love podcasting, you should be excited about Spotify’s focus. It’ll bring in new listeners, grow the overall market, bring in new advertisers, and help sustain amazing content going forward. For this industry to grow as we all want it to, we need more people listening to more shows. With Apple, Google, and Spotify all basing 99% of their directory on the open RSS standard, we have preserved the free market. While it remains to be seen how Apple and Spotify distribute exclusive content, as long as the next “Serial” is available wherever you get your podcasts, the industry is in a good place going forward. In the period from 2004 to 2019, the podcast industry has gotten the attention of major players in technology. All that’s left is for Amazon to build out Amazon Podcasts…