May 26, 2022

Uploading paid-per-view audio on Substack is nothing new, but the newsletter platform is rethinking its efforts to convince podcasters to use its service.

Today Substack published two blog posts encouraging creators to create podcasts on Substack. Like newsletters, they may charge subscribers for access if they are willing to forgo the 10% discount. This works for podcasters who pay for all shows, and for podcasters who only pay for certain episodes. Publishing to Substack doesn’t stop you from sharing public episodes on various subcatchers – listeners can access paid episodes through the Substack app or through an RSS feed.

Apple and Spotify compete against each other to become popular podcast monetization platforms, but Substack competes just as well against other subscription platforms like Patreon. Coincidentally, The Fifth Column and American Prestige podcasts announced this week that they will be closing their existing Patreon accounts in order to join Substack, according to Hot Pod. Substack has previously lured big creators to its platform by paying large cash advances, but the platform does not disclose who will or will not pay the advance – the company’s policy is to let creators decide whether to disclose this. They call it the “Substack Pro” program. So we can only guess if these Patreon-to-substack moves exceed the match time.

It’s hard to say exactly what benefits Substack offers to podcasters, and Patreon doesn’t offer very well. Substack is also working on native video uploads in beta, giving creators better control over who sees their paywall video – currently a paywall video is usually a link to an unlisted YouTube video that can be easily shared. But Patreon also said it was working on the original upload. Also, Patreon charges 5%, 8%, or 12% off depending on the plan you choose, while Substack charges 10% – if you don’t have a Patreon premium plan, you can earn more there.

Any type of podcaster can be subject to Substack’s “hands-off” content moderation policy. Substack and Patreon prohibit spam, porn, illegal activity, linking, plagiarism, and impersonation, but Patreon has more detailed guidance on COVID-19 and QAnon related misinformation.

Substack’s lax rules make it a cozy home for some prominent anti-vaccine figures who have been banned from mainstream social media like Twitter. Only a fraction of the top five anti-vaccine newsletters raise at least $2.5 million annually to the platform.

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