Do You Need to Care About Facebook & Apple’s Podcast News

In the last several weeks, there has been some podcast news and so I thought let’s take a beat today, spend some time, you-zy and me-zy, and let’s talk through a couple of the things mostly that I’m getting the most questions about, but also that you may run into questions with. So first and foremost, Apple podcast now has two new things rolling out, one of which will be the ability to offer subscriptions to your content. Essentially put content behind a paywall.

The second being a smart play button, and I’ve had questions about both of these things because generally speaking, our clients and our community are podcasters who are not using their podcast to generate revenue from their podcast or using their podcasts to generate revenue from other offers. And so there’s a little bit of fear that if they have to put a paid subscriptions in place, will they be able to still get clients, da, da, da, da.

The Apple podcast subscription option is completely optional. There will still be Apple podcasts as they exist now. For example, this show, Uncommonly More, will not move to a subscription because that’s not the purpose of this show. However, what you could do is have some sort of opt in-esque content behind a subscription wall. Maybe it’s bonus episodes, maybe it’s an extra part of a conversation and interviews. It could be a lot of things that you could put in place where it would still work. But again, that would be completely optional. It is not going to suddenly be required for people to pay for your show for you to distribute your show to them via Apple podcasts.

Nor will there be a cost to you. There is a cost if you offer Apple podcast subscriptions, in the sense that Apple takes a cut of your subscription. The same is true if you use a tool like Patreon or something like that, where you have, again, bonus content behind a paywall. They’re going to take a cut of that subscription because they’re processing your subscription. So it’s the same as when PayPal or Stripe or Square or whatever your payment processor tool takes a cut. Again, there’s a fee for them processing the payments.

The other Apple bit of news is the smart play button, and there’s been some questions around if that’s going to cause shows to play in a weird order, or if it’s going to impact new listeners for your show. And the thing is is it’s actually pretty controllable by you when it rolls out. They’ll play, dependent on how your show is set up. So this is where you’re going to want to look at your host and look at your feed settings to make sure that your feed settings and your show settings are accurate to what you want to be released.

So the smart play button for shows that are serialized, meaning there is a beginning and a middle and an end to your show. Think about shows like Serial where it would be weird if you started listening in the middle, you kind of want to start listening at the beginning. Another great one, just as a bonus tip, West Wing Weekly, makes the most sense if you listen to the beginning. The Dream, I’m just thinking of serialized podcasts that I love that are complete and you can go listen and binge to the whole thing, and you won’t have to wait like I did.

Anyways, those will play at episode one. So if your show is set up to be a serialized experience, the smart play button will start people with episode one. If you are not a serialized show, you are individual episodes much like my show is set up, the smart play button will play your most recent episode. So that most recent episode is generally where I want people to get on the boat mostly because if you went back and listened to episode one of this show, I’m not actually talking about the same … Anything in those promos don’t exist anymore, so that’s not helpful.

So I want people to start listening now. If somebody goes and hits a play button, I want them to hear this episode or the last couple of episodes. I don’t want them to hear an episode from eight years ago. So I confirmed in my settings that everything was set up to be episodic and not serialized, and so you’re going to want to make sure in your settings that you have the right show represented, the right show style represented, so that you’re not worrying about where someone’s going to end up with those smart play buttons.

So that’s our Apple news. Again, for us, for shows like us, there’s not a lot to be aware of, much less concerned about with either of these changes. I think the only one really that’s worth you spending some time looking at and making sure you’re set up for success is that smart play button because you want to make sure you are set up to be episodic and not serialized if you are not serialized. But also, if you are a serialized show and people do need to go through the content in a certain kind of order, it’s going to make the most sense for you to have it set up that way. Cool? Cool.

That’s the Apple news, but that’s not all the news we have. No news collection story would be complete without Facebook. I know, groans, groans, groans. Facebook is attempting to commandeer features from other social media outlets once again, and they are creating some audio tools, one of which is just a straight up Clubhouse rip off. I think they’re called Soundbites.

Yeah, Soundbites, a new social audio format. I’m actually looking at the press release to make sure I don’t miss anything as I’m sharing this, but they’re called Soundbites. They’re an audio creation tools, short form creative audio clips for capturing anecdotes, jokes, moments of inspiration, poems, and many of the things we haven’t yet imagined. That’s from Facebook and their press release. Essentially, this is going to be a version of Clubhouse meets Tik-Tok meets Reels meets Stories.

And I don’t know, it’s going to be a short form audio content. Honestly, at this point, I’m not worried about it at all because I don’t even actually use my Facebook page a ton of time anymore and I just sort of share that these episodes have gone out. When it comes out, we might play with it, we might see, but I’m certainly not losing any sleep over it. You’ll also notice we don’t have a huge presence on Clubhouse because as of this point, it’s got some limitations that make it not totally worth my energy and a time investment. That could very well change in the future certainly, but for right now, it’s not going to change. And so I say that to act as permission for you to look at something that’s available and say, “Cool, I don’t need that right now.” Or, “Oh yeah, I do want to play with this. I’m excited about this new tool, this new function, whatever it is.”

So the other piece of Facebook news, which again, I think is more important than that, is podcasts are coming to Facebook so there will actually be a function for people to discover and listen to your show right on Facebook through the mobile app player. And I’m going to pull this from the press release once more, “More than 170 million people are already connected to hundreds and thousands of podcast pages on Facebook and more than 35 million people are members of fan groups around podcasts. But until now you had to leave the Facebook app to listen to these episodes. Within the next few months, you will be able to listen to podcasts directly on the Facebook app, both while using the app or with the app playing in the background.”

Similar to how you would consume content through any other podcast player, it’s just going to be integrated into Facebook, and I think that this is actually really cool, mostly because it’s going to give us a distribution point, another opportunity to reach people in a place they’re already spending time and we don’t have to get them off of the platform to get there. So for me, this means I’m hoping that podcast episodes will get better deliverability in Facebook than we see right now where we just put a post about the episode, because we’re not trying to take them off Facebook.

Generally speaking, Facebook is most giving with the algorithm when you’re not trying to send somebody someplace else. When you’re sending someone to another part of Facebook or a Facebook owned item, it’s a lot easier to get views and reach and clicks and engagement. So this, I think, could be really cool news because again, we’re going where they already are and delivering the episodes they would generally have to go somewhere else to get without, I’m hoping, a ton of additional work for podcasters.

I’ll be talking more about this as it actually starts rolling out. We’ll do some stories around it on Instagram, so if you want to pay attention to what it looks like, stay tuned for that in the coming weeks, but this is sort of the one two punch of podcast news that I wanted to share with you. Again, there’s no firm date on the podcast app or the podcast playability within the app, it just says coming soon.

The last piece of audio news is that live audio room feature. Again, essentially a Clubhouse rip off built right into Facebook where you’ll have live audio rooms and expect this to be out by summer, and it’ll be available through Facebook and Messenger. Again, I’m not going to spend a lot of time here because it’s not something I am going to be using a ton right now. If you want to check out the press releases for anything I shared today, go to the show notes page of this episode, just head over to, and you can find links to both of these press conferences or press releases so you can get everything they shared right there.

Short and sweet one today. If you are ready to get some support for your show, we do have some openings for new production clients in the spring and into the summer. So let’s chat, head on over to and learn more about production services with our team and we’ll chat more next week. Have a good one.

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