Over the past several months, I’ve covered YouTube a few times, and made the arguments for and against video in podcasting. And if you’re in the “I don’t want to add video to my podcast” camp, there’s good news that came out of Hot Pod Summit ’23.
Head of YouTube Podcasting Kai Chuk was in attendance and announced that podcasts are coming to YouTube Music — but that’s not all he announced.
The Big Announcement
They have the full text of the announcement over on Podnews, but the gist is that both audio and video podcasts will be coming to YouTube Music in the near future, allowing for more discoverability and accessibility. However, it will only be available in the US at first.
Another important note is that people will be able to listen even if their phones are locked or they aren’t in the app. This is notable because for music in YouTube Music, and for videos in the YouTube app, this is a paid feature.
To make this work financially, some are reporting that this will be ad-supported.
This is definitely exciting news as Google Podcasts’ death feels imminent. But as Podnews also points out, YouTube Music is not YouTube. There are only about 80 Million premium subscribers on YouTube Music vs. 2.5 billion active users on YouTube. For reference, Spotify has 489 million active users, and 205 million premium subscribers.
Podnews also expresses frustration with the US-only rollout. Your author of this post might be US-based and therefore biased, but I can see both sides. YouTube likely wants to test their largest, most stable market before rolling it out in other places. But it is a limiting growth factor.
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Still, this is a big step forward for YouTube and podcasting. YouTube Music might serve as a testing ground for a wider YouTube rollout later, or if YouTube Music becomes the de-facto place to listen to music and podcasts for YouTube, they may see a rapidly growing user base.
And that’s not the only announcement they made at the summit.
More podcasting tools coming to creator studio
Shortly before the summit and confirmed by YouTube, there’s also a new podcasting tool rolling out in YouTube’s Creator Studio. Podcasters will be able to add a new podcast to their channel, which makes it clearer to YouTube the content should be included on the podcasts section of YouTube, and in YouTube Music.
There will also a badge specifically for podcasters.
This is a great step forward, but it still requires podcasters to upload their episodes separately in the studio. But that might not be the case for very long.
Uploading via RSS
The last note in the announcement is:
Later this year, we’ll offer support for creators to upload their audio podcasts via RSS feeds directly to YouTube.
In this reporter’s humble opinion, this is the most important step YouTube can take towards being a true podcast platform and directory.
RSS is at the core of how podcasting works, and while Spotify has decided to break that mold, it’s good to see that YouTube (at this point) has plans to incorporate podcast RSS.
This is absolutely the easiest path for most podcasters to get on YouTube, and it makes YouTube’s job of identifying podcasts easier.
Plus, with explicit support for non-video content hosted outside of YouTube, it shows that they want to play with podcasters, and not own podcasters.
Lots of Great Stuff Coming!
All-in-all, these announcements are the most exciting ones to come out of YouTube since the leak of that PDF around this time last year.
It’s great to see YouTube push podcasting forward, and it will mean better discoverability for podcasters…and hopefully easier monetization.