I’m really bummed that we probably have to wait until 2024 for the next season of House of the Dragon and also a little embarrassed that I know more about the history of Westerosi than about, like, World War I (A Wiki of Ice and Fire is a real bottomless pit). I will also update my day-after routine of . to miss HOTD pods like Talk to the Thrones and Boars, gore and swordsso if anyone has fresh pods to recommend, hmu.
Anyway, in the real world, Apple is raising its subscription prices, Spotify reports revenue, and Taylor Swift is one of the last true music stars.
Apple raises subscription prices
Yesterday, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is raising the prices of its plans for Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, and Apple One. It’s the first time Apple has raised its prices for these services in the US, and given market forces, this move makes perfect sense (even if it’s annoying to me personally).
The video side seems pretty trimmed and dry. TV streamers regularly raise their prices – Netflix did so in March, Hulu saw a rise this month, and Disney Plus gets more expensive in December. Plus, Apple TV Plus is in a much stronger position than when it debuted three years ago for a measly $4.99 a month. It has since scored commercial and critical hits with Ted Lasso, severance payand For all mankind and even took home the Academy Award for Best Picture this year for code. The streamer now costs $6.99 per month.
The audio side is a bit trickier. In a statement to 9to5MacApple quoted the recent increase in license fees. Apple Music and its competitors must pay 15.35 percent of music revenues to songwriters and publishing rights holders starting next year, an increase of 0.25 percent from the current rate and nearly 5 percent more than the old rate. But at $10.99, Apple’s service is now more expensive than Amazon Music, which is $8.99 per month, and Spotify, which has been stuck at $9.99 per month for over a decade. And unlike video streamers, you can access (usually) the exact same music, whichever audio service you choose.
That means the audio streamers have to work harder to differentiate themselves. Apple Music and Amazon Music offer high-quality audio, while Spotify is only exploring HiFi for Platinum Plan subscribers, who could reportedly charge $19.99 per month. Both Spotify and Amazon also offer exclusive podcasting content, while Apple Music is completely separate from Apple Podcasts.
To me, the lossless audio on Apple and access to the music library I’ve been building since high school is worth the extra $1 a month. And the price difference may not last long — I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s decision triggers similar price increases from Spotify and Amazon. Between inflation and licensing costs, it seems inevitable.
What should you look for in Spotify’s earnings today?
Spotify today releases its third-quarter results after the market close. Here are some of the things I’ll be keeping an eye on:
- Podcast Stats (duh): Last week, a user spotted a notification from Spotify that the streamer is now home to 5,523,475 podcasts. Spotify hasn’t confirmed that number yet, but the company likes to tout the size of its podcast library as a sign of success (rather than, you know, profit). If that number turns out to be true, that would be a pretty huge jump from Spotify’s second quarter figure of 4.4 million podcasts. Also expect a serious celebration of Meghan Markle’s podcast, the streamer’s most successful original talk show to date.
- Subscribers: Spotify’s subscriptions have consistently exceeded expectations and there’s no reason to expect it to. Wells Fargo analyst Steve Cahall said in a note that while he’s limiting his estimate for free users, based on third-party data, he still expects premium subscriptions to hit 195 million (up from 188 million last quarter). Wall Street consensus is closer to 194 million, which would still be a healthy addition of 6 million paying subscribers.
- Advertising Revenue: This is where the deteriorating economy is felt most strongly for the company. Ads still represent less than a seventh of Spotify’s total revenue, so a drop in ad revenue may not have a huge impact. However, this is where podcasting falls. The company wants podcasting to contribute more to ad revenue to be less reliant on music (which, with regard to the development of the license fee above, becomes more expensive).
- Platinum subscription: The Spotify survey that made the rounds earlier this month points to the possibility that Spotify may finally be providing HiFi – at a price. The survey covered multiple different versions (and prices) of a platinum plan, but the one that has attracted the most attention was set to cost $19.99 per month. In addition to HiFi, that plan would include limited podcast ads, library and playlist management tools, and audio insights. I’ll be listening to see if it’s listed on the investor call at 4:30 PM ET.
- Audiobooks: Okay, there probably won’t be much to say about audiobooks, which only debuted in the app a month ago. But maybe they’ll give you a few tidbits of what to expect for the vertical.
Taylor Swift’s midnight has the biggest debut of all albums in the last five years
I may be partly responsible for this, as I’ve been listening to “Anti-Hero” all weekend. Taylor Swift may be the only living artist who can still sell 1 million albums in a week, a feat that was rare even before the rise of streaming. According to research firm Luminate, which provides the data for: BillboardGraphs, midnight earned 1.2 million equivalent album units in the first three days. The last time an album managed to achieve such numbers was in 2017 with Reputation by…Taylor Swift.
Hot Pod Summit and On Air LA Annex are next week
We look forward to seeing some of you in LA next week! Hot Pod Summit is sold out, but There are still tickets available for On Air LA Annex. On Air Fest announced the full lineup of the event this week, including a live recording of Object of sound with Hrishikesh Hirway and the world premiere of ESPN 30 for 30‘s pink card.
That’s all for today! See you next week.