You are currently viewing Need to monetize your podcast? Are Apple subscriptions, Spotify subscriptions or something else best? Here’s our method.

Need to monetize your podcast? Are Apple subscriptions, Spotify subscriptions or something else best? Here’s our method.

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Today we’re talking podcast monetization – Apple and Spotify have announced new monetization options through their subscription platforms – and I’ll be explaining why you don’t need either to monetize your podcast!

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Apple wants your audience and some of your money

We have yet to see much evidence that consumers want to pay for podcasting, though there are some exceptions — mostly via Patreon, the company that lets fans pay creators for exclusive podcasts or any other creative content they want to sell. 

Starting this month, Apple announced it will let podcast publishers sell subscriptions to individual shows or groups of shows, and set their own pricing, starting at 49 cents a month in the US.

Apple won’t require podcasters to create Apple-only exclusive shows, but it does want them to distinguish between stuff they’re already distributing via Apple and stuff going up on other platforms: That could mean ad-free shows or shows with extra content or brand-new shows that only exist on Apple.

Apple will keep 30 percent of any subscription revenue creators generate in their first year on the platform. After that, Apple’s cut will drop to 15 percent. That’s the same pricing scheme Apple already uses for other subscription services, like TV streamers.

Apple podcast subscriptions sound good but it’s not revolutionary. First, cost to podcast is $19.99 /mo + 30% of subs + I assume a transaction fee & taxes.

A tiered plan system makes it all fairly mundane:

  • Free – listen for free
  • Freemium – listen for free pay for extras
  • Paid – Pay to listen

Patreon did it first & cheaper – Apple Podcasts Subscriptions is old tech with a new UI.

Another major issue I have with Apple Podcast Subscriptions is that subscriptions will be limited to iOS devices only – foregoing an entire marketplace of other devices! Why would we ever advise someone to limit themselves to just iOS devices or hand over 30% of their revenue to a giant tech corp?

We wouldn’t… and I wouldn’t recommend Spotify either 🔻

Spotify follows Apple with subscriptions

Announced just after Apple’s announcement – for the first time, Spotify is letting podcasters on its platform offer subscriptions to their shows. The company announced its paid podcast subscription product for the US , which will initially allow select partners who host their shows on Anchor to charge for content.

Podcasters won’t have to pay Spotify anything for the first two years. Creators will, however, have to cover the cost of transaction fees through Spotify’s payment partner Stripe.

In 2023, Spotify will begin taking a 5 percent cut of total subscription revenue. That’s significantly less than Apple will charge; its new subscription service will take 15 to 30 percent of revenue. Podcasters have three monthly pricing options to choose from: $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99.

Notably, though, Spotify won’t have a big subscribe button at the top of every podcast page, and you won’t be able to subscribe directly within the app. Those limitations could make it harder for podcasts to sign up new subscribers. (This also means Spotify won’t have to pay Apple for any subscriptions sold under its App Store terms.) Apple’s subscription podcasts, on the other hand, will let you subscribe from right within its app.

Along with the subscription news, Spotify also announced plans to eventually launch a way for podcasters who already run a subscription business outside Spotify to bring it into the app. It isn’t totally clear how this will work, and when asked whether Spotify will simply support private RSS feeds, which it currently doesn’t.

The bigger podcast players are becoming increasingly interested in owning all parts of the podcasting ecosystem but do you need them? Do you even want them?

No and no 🔻

So how does Knucklehead Media Group monetize podcasts?

I get asked all the time by clients in our discovery process if we will monetize their podcasts via sponsorships, affiliate commissions and/or Patreon-esque subscriptions.

Have we? Yes. Do we continue to? Not if we can help it!


Sponsorships: Fine for entertainment or educational podcasts that have a brand or host with great engagement and a large following. The trick for smaller brands and individuals is finding businesses that want to pay you to reach your audience. Not lucrative for most.

Affiliate: Promoting products on your podcast and putting affiliate link(s) in your description. *cough* Use code KNUCKLEHEAD at for free shipping and 20% off *cough* is also not very lucrative for smaller audiences. It is also counterproductive if you have a product/service you sell yourself.


If you sell a product or service, don’t monetize your podcast with sponsorships or affiliate promotions, just drive traffic to your existing sales funnels! Most of our clients are B2B or D2C, almost all have a product or service they offer. Part of our design process and monetization strategy is crafting their show in such a way that encourages listeners or guests to “fall” into your funnel – warming up leads, or as our Chief Knucklehead, Stephen calls it, “Bringing dead leads to life.”

The Easy Button For Podcasting

Skip the friction and uncertainty. Launch a great show right away with our podcast production services.

Every podcast episode our clients put out is designed to do 4 things:

  • Entertain
  • Inform
  • Retain
  • Expose

The first three are pretty self explanatory right? But Expose? Yes, expose the “who” to the host, brand or product.

The who? The audience and/or the guest. It’s not just the audience you’re selling your product or service to – oftentimes guests can be the target or avatar that needs your product/service, guest selection strategy is very important here as well.

Quick story – one of our clients runs a successful luxury real estate company in SoCal – he onboarded with Knucklehead with the mission of starting a podcast that would increase his industry authority, expand his network and land some new investment deals. Within 13 episodes this client had already been offered investment opportunities through guests he had on the show as well as new deals coming in from listeners that were “warmed up” via his podcast.

Think of your podcast as a tool you use to get your guests and listeners to do three things:

  • Know you
  • Like you
  • Trust you

People will want to work with you and buy from you with a podcast that can achieve this. You must treat the podcast as a sales & marketing tool. Also – don’t get hung up on the vanity metrics such as downloads, subscribers and listens. Remember quality over quantity – you should be perfectly happy with 10,000, 1,000 or even 100 listeners that convert into sales and move you towards your business objectives more so than 1,000,000 listeners that don’t convert anything.

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