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Spotify announced the launch of their Open Access feature in July. Through Open Access, podcasters who offer paid subscriptions to their shows can now offer those subscriptions through Spotify without having to share revenue or control of their content with the streaming service.
Open Access launched with an initial set of partners, including Supercast.
Spotify’s move to make their platform more broadly accessible with Open Access is big news for a number of reasons. Let’s dig into the reasons why.
Why Spotify Open Access is big news
Since their beginning, podcasts have existed in an open ecosystem thanks to a technology called the RSS feed. Since anyone can create an RSS feed from their audio content and nearly every podcast player can ingest and play RSS feeds, making and listening to podcasts has up until pretty recently been an accessible and democratic experience.
Spotify has been the outlier. That's because Spotify's podcast streaming isn't based on RSS feeds. This enables some unique features on Spotify, such as more detailed analytics, but it also means that to date you haven't been able to add a show to Spotify by URL in the same way that you can on most other podcast players.
So you can see how the news of Spotify launching Open Access is something of a big deal.
There’s a ton that remains unchanged, including their choice to not support RSS feeds, but it’s a step in the right direction, and one that holds immediate benefits for podcasters with subscription programs.
What Spotify Open Access means for podcasters
Spotify Open Access is great news for podcasters with a subscription program, whether that subscription is free or paid.
To date, if you’ve partnered with a company like Supercast to deliver your subscription podcast program, you’ve been able to offer listeners access to their subscription content on the podcast player of their choice—but not Spotify.
Since many listeners use Spotify as their podcast player, your subscription content has been more or less inaccessible to a fairly sizable audience. I mean, sure, Spotify listeners could switch podcast players just to access your subscription program but that’s a lot of friction.
But now, thanks to Open Access, you’ll be able to offer Spotify as a podcast player option to your listeners.
The advantages of Spotify Open Access for podcasters
- You can now offer your premium podcast content in Spotify without having to use Spotify’s subscription program. Using a neutral platform like Supercast to send premium content to every major podcast player, including Spotify, means you have just one dashboard to manage.
- It’s a better experience for your Spotify listeners. They no longer have to choose between downloading a different podcast player to access your content or not subscribing to your content at all. Like everyone else, they can now enjoy seamless access to your premium content with a couple of taps.
- It’s free to participate. If you use a third-party to manage your premium content, there’s no cost to include Spotify as an option for subscribers
The drawbacks of Spotify Open Access for podcasters
Right now, there’s one major drawback to using Spotify Open Access and that’s splintered reporting. What I mean is that listener and subscriber statistics in your subscription platform won’t include Spotify. Those stats will exist separately in your Spotify for Podcasters dashboard. So there will be two places to go to see how your program is performing.
We’re hopeful that in the future Spotify will open up an API that will allow their performance statistics to be fed back into a single dashboard, but that’s only a hope at this point. We’ve heard nothing firm.
Why is Spotify opening up now?
The big question on everyone’s minds is why Spotify is starting to open now.
Well, Spotify’s mission is to be the #1 destination for people to listen to all kinds of audio content—whether that’s music, podcasts, or anything else. And what they realized is that they were creating roadblocks for themselves.
If people had to switch away from Spotify to a different podcast player to get access to the subscription podcasts they wanted, Spotify was losing in their goal of having all the listens, as well as breaking the experience for their users.
So Open Access is a strategically smart move for Spotify. By offering this feature, they're allowing their users to do all their listening in one place.
A few technical details on how Open Access works
Instead of using the open technology of RSS feeds, Spotify Open Access will use OAuth, a common way for websites and apps to manage user access without having to use passwords.
To show how the integration would work for one of your subscribers, let’s use Supercast as an example.
When one of your listeners subscribes to your show, they’ll be asked which podcast player they want to use to access the premium content. The list will include Spotify.
When the listener clicks on Spotify, they’ll be asked to log into their Spotify account.
Once they log in, your show is added into their Spotify app and they’re away to the races.
Spotify’s Open Access announcement means podcasters can now offer subscription content on the streaming platform without having to use the Spotify subscription program.
If you’re a podcaster that makes money with subscriptions (or you’re looking to get started), it’s definitely something you’ll want to explore.
The Spotify integration is currently available to All-In Supercast accounts. To add Spotify distribution to your podcast, go to Advanced Settings > Spotify Preferences in your Supercast dashboard. If you don't yet have a Supercast account, you can open one for free.