As Spotify pivots its podcast strategy to favor creator-led content and move away from total platform exclusivity, the audio giant is collaborating with Patreon to bring subscriber podcasts directly onto the streaming service.
Beginning Wednesday, Patreon users can stream their subscriber-exclusive shows on Spotify. In turn, listeners can sync up their Patreon accounts to their Spotify accounts, providing a streamlined app to listen to all of their podcast (and music) content.
By working with Spotify, Patreon creators may more easily be able to reach listeners and avoid sharing links to private RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. Private RSS feeds give select subscribers real-time updates when a subscriber-only episode is uploaded, compared to the regular public RSS feeds that automatically populate whenever a creator uploads a wide-release episode. The problem with these feeds, though, is that they can easily be distributed to other non-paying listeners and don’t offer many protections for creators’ supposedly paywalled work.
Though Patreon typically takes a 5 to 12 percent cut of their creators’ subscription revenue, Spotify will notably not be taking a cut from the synced Patreon shows, nor will Spotify serve ads on the participating shows, according to a Spotify spokesperson.
“The API [Application Programming Interface] really allows podcasters who offer paid subscriptions to their shows through third-party platforms to extend access to those subscriptions on Spotify,” the spokesperson told Passionfruit.
Patreon Needs a Rebound, and Spotify Wants Creators
For Patreon, linking up with Spotify could help foster some goodwill among creators to keep them on the platform after recent missteps, including two separate payment issues that were causing some creators to lose access to their funds and some fans to have their Patreon payments getting flagged as fraudulent. (The company said both issues had been resolved as of last week.)
Growth has also stalled on Patreon, with the total number of creators on the platform growing by 2.7 percent over the past year compared to the roughly 8.9 percent growth seen during a similar time frame between 2021 and 2022, according to the Patreon analytics tracker Graphtreon. In theory, making it easier for subscribers to access paywalled content could encourage more fans to subscribe to podcasts and boost subscription revenue for the creator-centric platform.
It also could help Spotify circumvent paying creators via licensing deals to upload their shows onto the platform while simultaneously garnering more goodwill with creators—especially at a time when indie music artists may struggle to make a living from streaming alone on platforms like Spotify.
Spotify’s Changing Podcast Strategy
For Spotify, the partnership with Patreon is the latest step in the audio giant’s major podcast correction. After years of flashy, expensive deals with big-name talent—such as the Obamas and the Sussexes—that haven’t necessarily resulted in the returns the company was hoping for.
Paired with podcast market fluctuations that have resulted in layoffs, show cancellations, and studio shutdowns, Spotify has increasingly focused on creators with known track records on other platforms, such as TikTok’s Drew Afualo and YouTube’s Markiplier and Emma Chamberlain, to create content, draw in younger audiences, and, of course, bring in ad revenue for the company.
And as Spotify pursues more of a YouTube model with its podcasts, bringing in video and Q&A functionality to popular shows like “Call Her Daddy” and Chamberlain’s “Anything Goes,” the Patreon deal could be an opportunity for Spotify to test the waters for interest in subscription content from creators as it explores different monetization options for its podcasts outside of just advertising.
If it’s a success, Spotify could very well be eating Patreon’s lunch.
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