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Apple launches an affiliate program for paid podcast subscriptions – TechCrunch

2 Mins read

Last month, Apple unveiled its plans for paid podcast subscriptions in a newly redesigned Apple Podcasts app. Now, it’s introducing a new program to help podcast creators grow their subscriber base: affiliate marketing. The company’s “Apple Services Performance Partner Program,” which already exists to help market other Apple services like Apple TV, Apple News, and Apple Books, is expanding to include paid podcasts.

The new program — “Apple Services Performance Partner Program for Apple Podcasts” (whew!) — will be open to anyone. However, the company believes it will make the most sense for publishers and creators with an audience and several marketing channels to share these new affiliate links. When users convert by clicking through one connection and subscribing to a premium podcast, the partner will receive a one-time commission of 50% of the subscription price after accumulating their first month of paid service.

So, for example, if a paid podcast charged subscribers $5 per month, the commission would be $2.50. This commission would apply to every new subscriber that signed up through the affiliate channel, and there’s no cap. Podcast creators can also use the affiliate links to promote their own paid programs, which would allow them to generate incremental revenue. While anyone can apply to join the affiliate program, an approval process is involved. The sign-up form asks for specific criteria — like how many channels are available and how the partner intends to use them to promote the affiliate links, among other things. This is mainly about keeping spammers out of the program and ensuring that those signing up have some marketing channels to distribute the links.

The program will be available to anyone in 170 countries and regions with paid podcast subscriptions. Once approved and signed in, affiliate partners will access an online dashboard to create links (i.e., shortened URLs) like any other affiliate program. They can also create multiple URLs for an individual podcast to make tracking how well different channels are performing easier. The URLs can be posted independently, tied to a “Listen on Apple Podcasts” badge, or made available as a QR code. The latter may make more sense when live events return, as it could be printed on signage or flyers distributed during a live taping. It also could be used in other sorts of advertising, including both print and digital.

Though premium podcasts already existed, they often involved paying a podcaster directly to access a private RSS feed until more recently. More minor services like Stitcher also used subscriptions to provide paying customers with perks, like ad-free listening and exclusive content. The new efforts by both Apple and Spotify are focused on wooing creators to their platforms, where they’ll take a cut of the subscription revenues. Spotify is waiving its 5% fee for the first two years, while Apple employs its usual model of 30% in year one, which drops to 15% in year two. While people can enroll in the new affiliate program starting today, paid podcasts aren’t launching until later this month, per Apple. When they do, those enrolled in the affiliate program can create links and earn commissions on subscriptions.

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