Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

That is Scorching Pod, The Verge’s e-newsletter about podcasting and the audio trade. Enroll right here for extra.

Joyful Tuesday! Bought a super-packed problem of Scorching Pod immediately for everybody. First off, I’ll check out Spotify’s chief public affairs officer’s prolonged new weblog put up about Apple’s App Retailer insurance policies. Additionally, Apple’s iOS 17 will convey episode artwork to Apple Podcasts. What is going to that imply for podcasters? 

Earlier than I hit the information, a few new developments. First off, Freakonomics Radio unveiled a brand new premium subscription immediately referred to as Freakonomics Radio Plus. Members pays $4.99 per thirty days for a lot of perks, together with ad-free episodes of each podcast within the Freakonomics Radio Community. This contains Freakonomics Radio, No Silly Questions, Individuals I (Largely) Admire, The Economics of On a regular basis Issues, and The Freakonomics Radio Ebook Membership.

Lastly, Semafor’s Max Tani posted on X (previously Twitter) that Sony Music is shedding workers in its world podcast division.

Apple Podcasts will lastly permit for episode artwork with iOS 17

Particular person episode artwork will now be supported on Apple Podcasts as part of the iOS 17 replace. Podcasters who connect a novel picture to every episode by way of their podcast’s RSS feed will see it displayed on Apple’s podcast participant. The episode artwork will seem all through Apple Podcasts, together with “Now Enjoying,” “Queue,” your gadget’s lock display present pages, and “Up Subsequent.” Any time you ship a hyperlink to a person podcast episode on iMessage, e mail, or share it on social media, the episode artwork will probably be displayed within the hyperlink previews. For an much more visually oriented expertise, podcasters also can connect chapter-specific artwork, which will probably be displayed at particular factors all through every episode. 

Based on Apple’s tips, creators are suggested to keep away from repeating the episode’s title of their episode artwork, preserve the “visible branding” distinct from the present and channel artwork, and use a colourful background that permits for white UI textual content to be seen. Creators can view Apple Podcasts’ templates for each episode artwork and chapter-specific artwork right here. 

Whereas it is a good growth for podcasts that already create episode artwork (Spotify, YouTube, and a lot of different podcast gamers already help it), the replace probably received’t imply a lot for podcasts which have opted out of episode artwork fully. Producing new artwork for each episode takes further time and labor, and never each podcast finds it vital. For instance, many of the podcasts within the Vox Media Podcast Community (disclosure: Scorching Pod is a part of Vox Media), corresponding to As we speak, Defined, The Weeds, That is Love, and others, don’t embrace particular person episode artwork. Different podcasts will deploy it on a case-by-case foundation or to tell apart particular episodes — for instance, The Vergecast just lately rolled out new episode artwork for its mini-series on AI.

Creating customized artwork for particular person episodes could be a complicated course of — particularly since not all hosts and gamers adopted the identical normal. Whereas Spotify, Castbox, and Podcast Addict help episode artwork by a podcast’s RSS feed, different gamers like Pocket Casts and Overcast will solely help it if it’s embedded in an MP3 file.

Previous to Apple Podcasts, iTunes had the flexibility for podcasters to incorporate episode artwork. Alex Goldman, a former host of Reply All, recalled that whereas the podcast often experimented with customized artwork, it “by no means appeared all that helpful” except it appeared as part of an iTunes banner, for instance. Apple’s tips for podcast artwork didn’t make life simpler for some creators. The Reply All staff would submit artwork to Apple, solely to get rejected — typically even a number of occasions. 

“It at all times ended up being too costly and never definitely worth the return on funding,” wrote Goldman in a direct message to Scorching Pod. 

However for different podcasts, particular person episode artwork is an important a part of their branding. Podcasts with extremely visible material, corresponding to these that concentrate on the humanities, might discover it simpler to give you new materials for each episode. One good instance is Vulture and Vox Media Podcast Community’s Switched on Pop, a pop music podcast that options customized illustrations of the musicians or music mentioned in every episode, from SZA to Taylor Swift to the music behind the film Barbie. 

For exhibits that do take the difficulty to create particular person episode artwork, an attention-grabbing picture is only one extra bit of knowledge that may assist with podcast discoverability — together with present descriptions, episode titles, present notes, and different particulars. Though pictures like present artwork and episode artwork aren’t searchable on podcast gamers, they will draw a listener’s eyeballs and even complement the episode itself. 

Episode artwork is, after all, a distinct recreation on YouTube, the place a good thumbnail can wrack up hundreds of views. Most YouTube-focused podcasters consider episode artwork as a significant a part of their publication course of moderately than simply an possibility. Some even rent devoted thumbnail artists and commit time to A/B testing of thumbnails. Nathan Ragland, the host of the Publish Trendy Artwork Podcast (which options interviews with illustrators, animators, and different visible artists), will embrace a customized thumbnail for every visitor, typically by the artists themselves. Ragland both affords to fee the thumbnail from the visitor or (in the event that they don’t have the time) will fee one other artist to provide it. This thumbnail may also present up as episode artwork the place the podcast’s audio model is accessible, corresponding to on Spotify and (now) Apple Podcasts. 

Ragland in contrast a podcast’s episode artwork to YouTube thumbnails. “Typically the thumbnail grabs the viewers’s consideration and makes the individual need to watch. Likewise, if the episode artwork exhibits off one thing or somebody an individual needs to know extra of, they could be extra inclined to hear in,” he wrote in a message to Scorching Pod. 

Spotify fires some extra pictures at Apple for App Retailer insurance policies

Spotify’s chief public affairs officer, Dustee Jenkins, offered a standing replace on the streaming service’s years-long battle for world regulatory motion towards Apple’s restrictive App Retailer insurance policies — which started again in 2018. The Swedish firm has accused Apple of “choking competitors” by its 30 p.c tax on in-app transactions, which it says has particularly harmed its new audiobooks enterprise.

Whereas Jenkins acknowledged that “there was some momentum” within the European Union, extra progress was wanted worldwide. “Apple has continued to get pleasure from — and revenue from — the established order whereas all the pieces else on this planet has seemingly superior ahead. Within the absence of significant authorities motion, Apple will get a free go to do no matter it pleases and customers are paying the worth,” wrote Jenkins. 

Spotify’s years-long battle towards Apple and time spent lobbying a number of governments have led to 1 massive victory: the EU’s robust new Digital Markets Act regulation, which classifies Apple as a gatekeeper, would require the corporate to incorporate third-party app shops. The EU narrowed an investigation into Apple again in February, primarily dropping expenses associated to Apple’s in-app fee system. However relying on how the DMA is enforced (which works into impact in Could 2024), Apple’s in-app fee coverage might face one other roadblock.

Apple declined to supply a remark that might be attributed to a named spokesperson.

Simply this summer time, a US appeals courtroom dominated in Apple’s favor within the Epic lawsuit contesting these restrictions — with the caveat that builders must be allowed to hyperlink to exterior fee choices. There have been some rumblings of legislative motion within the UK and US. That features the likelihood {that a} invoice often known as the Open Apps Markets Act within the US (which might require Apple and Google to permit competing app shops) might come earlier than a extra sympathetic Home panel, in line with Politico Professional. However the opportunity of the invoice’s passage by each homes of Congress nonetheless seems to be slim. 

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