Spotify launched the program today to a test group of 12 creators — including NPR — who will begin releasing subscriber-only content to their existing feeds. The company is accepting submissions to be added to the early adopter list, and will expand globally “over the coming months,” it said.
“By enabling wide distribution of subscriber-only content, our aim is to help podcasters maximize their subscription audiences and grow them from their existing listener bases,” the company said. “Within Spotify, this content will be searchable and discoverable like any other podcast episode.”
Podcast listeners will start seeing small lock icons next to premium episodes in their podcast feeds. Clicking on the button will prompt a pitch to “support this podcast by becoming a subscriber.”
Spotify’s top competitor in the podcasting space, Apple, announced last week that it will launch a similar podcast subscription to creators and fans starting next month. Apple subscriptions will provide support for ad-free listening, exclusive content, and early access to new shows, however, there will be more fees involved. In line with other App Store purchases, Apple will keep 30% of sub fees for the first year and 15% annually after that.
Apple’s podcast division helped popularize the format, but in recent years has given up its massive lead to Spotify, which has grown furiously over the past few years. According to market research firm eMarketer, Spotify is expected to pass Apple Podcasts in U.S.-based monthly podcast listeners this year, with 28.2 million listeners every month, compared to Apple’s 28 million.