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Apple Meets With Podcasters to Hear Wide-Ranging Community Grievances

podcastsApple has held a special meeting with leading podcasters in an attempt to address concerns that the company is failing to adequately support the iTunes broadcast community, reports The New York Times.

According to the piece published today, the meeting took place last month at the company's Cupertino headquarters, where seven top iTunes podcasters were invited to air their grievances regarding Apple's handling of the popular audio format in recent years.

The podcasters expressed in "frank terms" their biggest issues to a room full of Apple employees, according to two attendees who spoke on condition of anonymity after signing nondisclosure agreements.

At the top of the complaints list was a frustration among podcasters at their lack of ability to make money through subscription downloads, mainly due to insufficient access to data about their listeners – data that they argued Apple is in a unique position to provide.

The program producers also took issue with iTunes' limited sharing features, which take multiple clicks to advertise content on social media. In addition, podcasters said they had been "relegated to wooing a single Apple employee" when it came to discussing issues, such as perceived inconsistencies in the way iTunes elects to promote content.

After the meeting was over, SVP Eddy Cue met with Apple employees separately in a closed-door session to discuss the issues that had been raised by the podcasters, but the company did not make any promises to address their concerns, according to the sources.

Apple essentially gave birth to the mainstream podcasting community in 2005 when it released iTunes 4.9 with native support for podcasts. Within a year, public radio networks like the BBC, CBC Radio One, and National Public Radio had placed many of their radio shows on the platform.

The format's popularity has surged in recent years, with many amateur podcasters going professional and major media organizations posting new shows every week. In 2014, breakout hit "Serial" garnered 110 million downloads as listeners avidly followed the radio spin-off's re-examination of a murder case. In 2015, at least 46 million Americans listened to podcasts each month. That figure is expected to reach 57 million by this year's end, according to a survey by Edison Research.

The report notes that podcasts bring Apple no direct revenue and its iTunes podcasting hub has changed very little since it was introduced, while promotion is decided by a small team that fields pitches and conducts its own outreach.

In a statement to The New York Times, Apple SVP Cue said, "We have more people than ever focused on podcasting, including engineers, editors and programmers." Cue added, "Podcasts hold a special place with us at Apple."

With Google and Spotify now actively promoting their own podcast promotion and distribution services, time will tell whether broadcasters agree.



Top Rated Comments

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42 months ago
Wait, so podcasters top grievance is a lack of customer data that they can use to monetize, or charge subscriptions?
I love podcasts but it would be a huge turnoff if the medium turned into yet another monthly fee.
Rating: 28 Votes
42 months ago

No. Just no. Yes, podcasting got a big boost when iTunes supported it, but they were going strong before that.


Questionable memory. You do know where the name came from? Here's a clue: iPod. Before this it was audio-blogging and globally didn't make a blip. Apple absolutely put pod-casting on the map.
Rating: 21 Votes
42 months ago

"Apple essentially gave birth to the mainstream podcasting community in 2005 when it released iTunes 4.9 with native support for podcasts." No. Just no. Yes, podcasting got a big boost when iTunes supported it, but they were going strong before that.


Mainstream. Podcasts were around, but "going strong" is a bit much. Apple introduced it to a very wide audience. Mainstream.
Rating: 20 Votes
42 months ago
"Apple essentially gave birth to the mainstream podcasting community in 2005 when it released iTunes 4.9 with native support for podcasts." No. Just no. Yes, podcasting got a big boost when iTunes supported it, but they were going strong before that.
Rating: 20 Votes
42 months ago
Apple is sounding more and more like a failing enterprise.
Rating: 17 Votes
42 months ago
Well, for fellow ATP listeners, now we know why John Siracusa took a vacation to Apple Headquarters!
Rating: 15 Votes
42 months ago
Good way to look at this:

-Well Apple is finally listening to the consumer (consumer this time the producers)

bad way:

-Apple doesnt know itself what makes a good product anymore.
Rating: 14 Votes
42 months ago
Seems lately that all the complaints are around stuff Eddy Cue is responsible for. Maybe he's the one that really needs to take an early retirement.
Rating: 10 Votes
42 months ago
Hmm, this is interesting. I wonder who these folks were?

These aren't complaints I've heard, and I follow the podcasting community pretty closely. I suppose some podcasters might like a bit more data from Apple about subscriptions or ranking, etc. they can get *plenty* of aggregated data about their audience from the big podcast hosts already! (Apple doesn't host the podcasts, they are just a directory, VIA which people can search/subscribe).

I think many podcaster's main beef with Apple's efforts are the quality of the podcast app, and search quality of iTunes (which is a problem for everyone, not just podcasters... app developers, people searching for apps, podcasts, etc.)

And... make money via subscription downloads? Who would that be? I don't know many podcasters who want that. Might we be talking the podcasting newcomers, NPR here, or someone like that?

"Apple essentially gave birth to the mainstream podcasting community in 2005 when it released iTunes 4.9 with native support for podcasts." No. Just no. Yes, podcasting got a big boost when iTunes supported it, but they were going strong before that.


I'm not sure I'd agree. Yes, some of us were listening to mp3 files before that, and some had started distributing via XML (i.e.: podcasting), but I think it was pretty much the iPod and iTunes that made it take off beyond a pretty small, dedicated community.

Wait, so podcasters top grievance is a lack of customer data that they can use to monetize, or charge subscriptions?
I love podcasts but it would be a huge turnoff if the medium turned into yet another monthly fee.


I've not heard that from any reputable podcaster I know or follow. The ones that have wanted to do extra paid content, or put their content behind a pay-wall have done so. I suppose *those* people might like the option of doing it directly via Apple's store, but again, I've never heard this before. (You can easily do this via some of the hosting services, Patreon type sites, or via a 'membership' site.)

The advertising market for podcasts/podcast networks is crashing so they are trying everything at this point to make money. Value for value model is the only viable long term solution.


No, I think it's actually growing. The difficulty is in getting traditional media/advertisers to recognize the difference between interruptive marketing vs content marketing. The measurements and effectiveness are completely different, so the pricing models should be as well. Even the popular NPR folks don't have a clue when it comes to this (they recently called podcast metrics the 'wild wild west').

But, yes, I think the value-for-value model is an excellent one for certain kinds of podcasts. But, that doesn't mean an ad or sponsorship model won't work. It just won't look the same as traditional radio/tv.

What's *actually* happening, is that podcasting has grown in popularity to the point that the big boys of media are taking note and wanting to get into the game. They just haven't stopped long enough to actually understand the medium first.
Rating: 8 Votes
42 months ago


The podcasters expressed in "frank terms" their biggest issues to a room full of Apple employees, according to two attendees, who spoke on condition of anonymity after signing nondisclosure agreements.


Of bigger concern to me is people signing NDAs and then disclosing what they heard and saw (anonymously or otherwise).
Rating: 7 Votes

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