Starting in May, Luminary is launching a premium podcast subscription with 40+ ad-free, exclusive podcasts. For $7.99 a month, after a one-month free trial, subscribers will get unlimited access to existing shows as well as originals from entertainers, popular podcasters and other diverse voices – and all exclusive. Programming includes podcasts like “A Very Fatal Murder” from The Onion, Adam Davidson’s “The Passion Economy,” “Hollywood and Crime,” “Tabloid” from New York Magazine, “The Trip,” “Under the Skin” with Russell Brand, “Team Coco,” “Let’s Talk This Out” with Trevor Noah, and a few we can’t print here.
Luminary will be available on iOS, Android and the web. Currently, Luminary has about 70 employees with offices in New York and Chicago, and it will be launching a media blitz soon to start the buzz about the podcast platform in a somewhat crowded marketplace.
“Podcasts. Glorious podcasts. Over 40 exclusive shows (and counting) from giants of podcasting, legendary entertainers, and diverse voices. All ad-free,” says the Luminary website. “A better way to podcast.”
Early subscribers who sign up by April 22 will be entered into a drawing to win experiences with their favorite podcast creators, and they can get referral credit to lower their subscription price. There are some caveats, of course.
To qualify, subscribers must sign up by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 22, must be 18 or older and be a resident of one of the 50 United States or Puerto Rico. Referrers must also disclose they are getting something in exchange for the referral. Once a subscriber signs up, they receive a unique referral link to share with friends via social media. If someone they’ve referred signs up, the referrer gets $1 per month off their subscription for the first year.
For subscribers who refer eight or more people to sign up, they get their first year free. After the first year, their subscription fee goes back up to $7.99 a month. See LuminaryPodcasts.com for complete details about the referral program and additional rewards.
According to The New York Times, the podcast startup has nearly $100 million in funding and will use a subscription-based business model. Though the premium version of Luminary will be ad-free and that content will be exclusive, Luminary will offer some free content in an ad-supported section of the app. Those podcasts are not exclusive.
Matt Sacks, Luminary’s co-founder and CEO, told The Times, “We want to become synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming. I know how ambitious that sounds. We think it can be done, and some of the top creators in the space agree.”
How will creators get paid? Luminary is offering “large upfront payment guarantees” in exchange for exclusivity, reports The Times. Also, creators who hit specific thresholds of listeners will also receive bonuses.
Luminary is not the only game in town though. It already has competition, like Stitcher who also offers a premium subscription with monthly ($4.99/month) and annual ($2.92/month billed annually) payment options. For the most part this programming is ad-free and some of the content is exclusive, but some of it is licensed to other platforms as well.
Wonder if podcasts are really a thing? PodcastInsights.com says they are, indeed, a big deal. Here are some U.S. podcast statistics for 2019:
- There are more than 660,000 podcast shows
- 51 percent of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast
- 16 million people in the U.S. are avid podcast fans
- 45 percent of monthly listeners have household income over $75,000
- 27 percent of U.S. podcast listeners have a four-year college degree
- 56 percent of podcast listeners are men; 44 percent are women.
- Comedy is the most popular podcasting genre, followed by education and news.
I fall into the 49 percent of Americans who have never listened to a podcast. I’m more of a reader or a reviewer than a listener, but I can see the appeal, and I have friends of all ages who love podcasts and have favorite shows. They’ll even occasionally send me a link – though I’ve never actually listened to one. That said, there is definitely an audience for a service like Luminary. It is sufficiently funded which is an advantage, but perhaps more importantly, it has a solid business model in mind and it has exclusive content. That seems to be the key factor that draws subscribers to one streaming service over another – content. We are always excited to cheer on subscription startups and, as always, we’ll follow Luminary and keep you posted on how they’re doing.