The Substack newsletter platform is taking a step towards becoming a bigger player in the podcasting game. The company encourages its newsletter publishers to start using their platform to publish a subscription podcast as well.
“The same way we made it simple to launch a paid newsletter, we make it just as easy to produce a paid subscription podcast on Substack. You can push each new episode to your readers and subscribers, on the Substack app and other podcast players, as easily as posting an article in your newsletter,” COO Hamish McKenzie said in a post. blog post announcing the move. In a presumably jab at Apple, Spotify and Patreon, he also said Substack would never keep podcasters “locked” to email or payment system constraints.
The move is not just a commitment for Substack, but also revenue. It will not charge anything to host or distribute podcasts through its platform. But podcasters who enable paid subscriptions will shell out more than 10% of Substack’s revenue. Podcasters will also have to pay credit card transaction fees.
In its pitch for differentiating itself from other options, Substack claims that podcasters will still own their subscribers’ email addresses and can export them at any time, if they wish. It also states that in the new iOS Substack app, there is an inbox specifically for podcast episodes. Substack also pledges not to interfere with the direct relationship creators have with consumers by engaging “without intermediaries, ads, or algorithms.” There will also be a dashboard of several podcast-specific stats, such as total downloads and average downloads, as well as top countries and top apps.
As part of the launch, a handful of podcasts are making the jump from Patreon to Substack, including news podcast The Fifth Column, science and culture show The Origins, and foreign policy series American Prestige, among others.
“Substack writers did more than just create newsletters. They went freelance and became full-fledged media outlets. They created new communities. They changed the whole business model of writing, making no need to bend to algorithms or advertising,” McKenzie said. “That’s what’s happening now for podcasting.