Apple announced its plans for paid podcast subscriptions in a newly revamped Apple Podcasts app last month. It is now launching a new initiative to assist podcast producers in growing their listener base: affiliate marketing. The company’s “Apple Services Performance Partner Program,” which already operates to assist in the marketing of other Apple services such as Apple TV, Apple News, and Apple Books, is now expanding to include paid podcasts.
The new program, dubbed the “Apple Services Performance Partner Program for Apple Podcasts” (whew!) will be available to everyone, but the company believes it will make the most sense for publishers and producers who already have an audience and a variety of marketing platforms from which they can share these new affiliate ties.
When users subscribe to a premium podcast after clicking on one of the links, the partner will receive a one-time commission equal to 50% of the podcast subscription price, after the subscriber has accumulated their first month of paid service.
For example, if a paid podcast charges $5 per month for listeners, the commission will be $2.50. This commission will be applied to any new subscriber who signed up via the affiliate channel, with no limit.
Podcast producers may also use affiliate connections to advertise their own paid services, generating additional revenue.
While anyone may apply to become a member of the affiliate program, there is an approval process in place. This is mostly to keep spammers out of the program and to ensure that those who sign up have at least some marketing outlets through which they can spread the links.
The sign-up form requests information such as how many platforms are available and how the partner plans to use them to support the affiliate ties, among other items.
Anyone in the 170 countries and regions where paid podcast subscriptions are available will be able to access the service.
Once accepted and signed in, affiliate partners will have access to an online dashboard where they can build connections (i.e. shortened URLs) in the same way as they would for any other affiliate program. They can also generate multiple URLs for a single podcast, making it easier to monitor how well different channels do.
The URLs can be posted separately, linked to a “Listen on Apple Podcasts” badge, or made available as a QR code. When live events return, the latter might make more sense, as it could be printed on signage or flyers circulated during a live taping, for example. It may also be used in other forms of advertisement, such as print and digital.
Premium podcasts have always existed, but until recently, they mostly required paying a podcaster directly to gain access to a private RSS feed.
Though people can start signing up for the new affiliate program today, paid podcasts won’t be available until later this month, according to Apple. When they do, affiliate program participants will be able to build ties and start earning commissions on subscriptions.
Subscriptions were often used by smaller websites, such as Stitcher, to provide paying users with a variety of benefits, such as ad-free listening and exclusive content. Both Apple and Spotify’s recent campaigns are aimed at luring developers to their sites, where they can take a share of subscription revenue. Spotify is waiving its 5% charge for the first two years, while Apple is sticking to its normal model of 30% in year one and 15% in year two.