Supporting quality: TapeWrite launches Membership Plans for easy podcast monetisation

Today we are launching TapeWrite Memberships — a new kind of audio marketplace allowing publishers to create their own membership passes to get paying subscribers or sell one-time passes all over the web. Two journalistic partners: Piqd from Germany and RadioBullets from Italy pioneer the model.

Are you worried about what’s going on in the world just as we are? At TapeWrite we are convinced that without re-focusing our attention to quality content and away from Internet’s “quick noise”, we won’t be able to re-create an informed society and valuable discourse that is desperately needed in these times.

We want to empower publishers to contribute to that shift. Part of this vision is making the dream of every creator happen — making a living with their work without giving up their creative freedom and control over their content. Not bowing to advertisers and algorithms but getting well deserved support directly from listeners. In short: Quality over click-bait.

We’ve built this feature with niche creators on our minds. Too often we’ve seen great podcasters shutting down because of lack of funds although their loyal audiences would be willing to support them, if only there was an easy way. Now there is one.

We believe we created an easy to use tool that will allow podcasters to finally get rewarded directly by people who appreciate their work. This, in turn, will help them to focus on creating quality content instead of running after clicks and advertisers that clearly favour big players anyway. We envisioned a sustainable source of revenue for journalists and podcasters investing time and effort into keeping us informed on things that really matter and challenge our brains instead of keeping us in bubbles and repeating what we already know and agree with.

We partnered with two European news organisations; RadioBullets from Italy and Piqd from Germany who helped to design the solution and produced original content to pioneer the model. Their premium tapes “Inchieste — Mafia in Africa” and “Storie — Il fruscio degli altri, storie di vite rovesciate” (Italian, available as subscription) and „Our New Digital Public Sphere“ (German, available as one-time-payment) are the first to launch on the marketplace.

Power to the publisher

The Membership Plans are free to set up and, we dare to say, provide a unique service on the audio market. Creating a Membership Plan is easy yet gives the creator the maximum flexibility regarding what, where, how and for how much he wants to offer as premium:

  • Content: The publisher chooses which tapes to lock behind a paywall and which to offer for free.
  • Payment type: It is up to the publisher if she wants to put a price on an entire season of tapes, just one episode or if she wants to offer a monthly subscription with tapes being released for the subscribers in regular intervals. We offer plenty of space for a good description that will make the listener want to unlock the premium content while having a good understanding of what he or she is paying for.
Setting up a pass is really easy and we explain everything step by step. If you still have questions, we have the answers in our FAQ or we help you via our support chat.
  • Price: The price is entirely up to the publisher and can be adjusted to her audience and needs.
  • Location: The publisher doesn’t have to lure listeners to a special page as unlocking takes place directly in the player (once signed in to TapeWrite), wherever the listener stumbles across it — on a website, on TapeWrite or maybe here on Medium. The premium content is where the publisher decides to promote it and where the audience can easily find it.
  • Relationship with the audience: We give publishers the Emails of their subscribers so they can own, build and make the relationship flourish (given their consent, of course).

Private feeds in an open distribution system

Podcasting is one of the last mediums that remains open and democratic by nature, hugely thanks to the traditionally open distribution system based on the RSS feeds. Publishers can choose among many quality hosting services and listeners have a wide choice of podcast apps to listen to their favourite voices. It is far from centralisation and that’s why so many people love it, including our team.

When we were starting to develop the marketplace we pledged to stay faithful to that principle and make our solution compatible with the RSS system as we don’t believe in closing audiences in apps. We didn’t break that promise.

The Memberships we present to you today are based on private RSS feeds. Paying listeners can not only immediately play the premium episodes on TapeWrite or wherever the publishers decide to embed them, but they can also subscribe to the premium content via private RSS feeds directly from their accounts. Listeners do not need to change their habits to consume premium content; they have a broad choice where to listen, just as it should be.

The listener: no risk, lots of fun

It was important for us that the listeners feel safe and sure about what they are paying for. That is why we went for the following:

  • Preview before buying: Once a tape is locked listeners can still preview the visual content but they won’t be able to play the audio until they buy a Pass. This was a non-brainer: TapeWrite is all about visual annotations which are the perfect medium for the listeners to get an idea about the audio before making the purchase.
  • 48hours money-back: In order to encourage quality content and trust we’ve built a 48 hours trial option for the listener. If it turns out the content is not what the listener expected, she can always cancel the purchase without any cost up to two days after the purchase.
This is what the listener sees after clicking on “Unlock audio”. Although we believe that most listeners pay for content in order to support the creator and say “thank you”, we make sure there aren’t any surprises out there and everybody feels safe and informed.
  • We don’t store data: We use the renowned service Stripe Connect to process payments and directly transfer the revenue to publishers without storing subscriber’s financial details.

Integrate with your own paywall

And what if a publisher has her own paywall or a membership program already in place? In our conversation with journalistic organisations we found out that some of them have been looking for a way to integrate podcasting as part of their own existing premium package. We decided to build our solution in a way that accommodates that need and grants free access to premium content on an invitation basis.

With the import/export feature the publisher will be able to import members of their own paywall into TapeWrite and grant them access to locked tapes via their Emails. In this way the only thing the members will have to do is signing in to TapeWrite with their Emails and they will have instant access to members-only content. This solution can work perfectly with other closed groups as well, for example in educational context.

Let’s do it together

We are really excited and looking forward to see creators getting rewarded for their work. It is a long shot but we believe that tools like ours might contribute to a shift our societies need and long for. One might argue technology brought the journalism crisis on us, let’s now use it to give publishers a boost they deserve. We can all benefit from that.


The development of TapeWrite Memberships was made possible by a grant awarded to our company by Google’s Digital News Initiative to develop a viable solution for rewarding journalists and podcasters for producing engaging, quality content by providing a frictionless way of selling audio episodes. Today we are proud to announce that the solution is ready to use.

TapeWrite is a modern audio publishing solution. Get a stunning annotated podcast player and an RSS feed in minutes.

RadioBullets

RadioBullets is a journalistic project founded by Barbara Schiavulli and Alessia Cerantola, experienced and fearless journalists reporting on world news that can’t be found in Italian mainstream media.

Speak Italian? We invite you to subscribe to the fantastic podcast series by Alessia on Italian mafia in Africa or the series produced by Barbara — moving stories of humans who found themselves in unusual circumstances.

Piqd

Piqd is a guide to great journalism, available in German and English. Their topic channels are maintained by small teams consisting of specialised journalists, researchers and other experts, recommending best daily articles. Their entire series on Digital Public Sphere can be found on their profile on TapeWrite: you can choose between subscribing to their membership program that includes access to the podcast or buying just one episode right here from the player.