PRX's project brought Web Monetization and podcasting together in multiple ways: building it into our platform (Dovetail), our open source web player, advocating for web monetization as a podcast industry standard, and bringing high profile podcasters to adopt and use Web Monetization.
In this final update, we are please to report success on all these objectives.
For the Dovetail podcasting platform, we added Web Monetization support by allowing producers to set a payment pointer for any show, which is then published to the RSS feed:
This provides a standards-based method for podcasts to indicate their use of Web Monetization that can then be used by any application that reads the RSS.
PRX's own open source player is the first OSS example using this RSS provided payment pointer, and we are pleased that we completed the objective to make this application capable of streaming payments from listeners to producers:
Another objective was to not only implement Web Monetization for ourselves, but to work with the larger podcasting community to define and support a standard. We are pleased that both we and Castopod settled on a common and interoperable standard that was accepted as a proposed standard for the
podcast namespace. We were lucky to be able to collaborate and build on the discussions and work done on this starting in 2020.
We have onboarded 3 well known podcasts from our Radiotopia network to use Web Monetization. They have already added payment pointers to their feeds on Dovetail, and web monetized players to their websites:
We hope these shows will serve as examples to their peers and the podcasting community, especially in how simple it now is to add this additional form of support for podcasts.
We published a post to PRX’s blog announcing support for Web Monetization, and further explaining Web Monetization and why it is an important standard that makes sense for podcasting (https://medium.com/prxofficial/web-monetization-and-podcasting-850d45f27882).
PRX's Web Monetization support was also the lead story in industry leading newsletter podnews, with a lively debate on Mastodon starting with podnews publisher James Cridland and including industry luminaries like Adam "the podfather" Curry.
For our content producers, we’ve also written up a short tutorial to aid them in the quick and easy setup of Web Monetization on their podcasts and using our web player.
Lastly, our Dovetail product website is also updated to promote Web Monetization as a key feature of the application:
One recently realized next step is to support Coil’s replacement, potentially with software updates, and at least updated language and instructions for our users. Once Web Monetization has a replacement, we plan to work with our content producers to help further communicate with listeners about using this great tool to support their favorite podcasts.
Another area for future work is that Web Monetization is only for the web and isn’t integrated into mobile apps, which account for the majority of podcast listening. This is also true of other types of media consumption and will eventually be addressed as the standards gain adoption, and projects like Rafiki work on this support.
Another area for improvement is that payments only flow when the browser is in the foreground, which is perfect for text and video, but not for audio. The equivalent for podcasts and music might be to stream payments when the sound is playing unmuted and loud enough to hear but unrelated to the browser focus or visual placement. We'll continue to advocate for changes to support audio and podcasting better.
There was also some criticism from the Podcasting 2.0 community that Web Monetization doesn't support variable, direct payments beyond the set rate built into Coil. We'd also like to continue exploring expanded payment options, like the tipping experiment from Coil at MozFest, with whatever providers take on this role in the ecosystem.
Many of the next steps above would benefit from advocacy in the community to raise the priority of solving problems for audio like background playback, payments in mobile apps, and more payment flexibility to bring Web Monetization in line with Value4Value which has this kind of support now using the Lightning network.
Support from the community in standards for podcasting and Web Monetization has already been wonderful, and we look forward to more collaborations with Castopod and hopefully others. Continued and widespread adoption will require more podcast hosts, native app developers, and audio creators to work to understand and use this standard, and develop the tools needed to support it in an open way. We would be excited to work with other like-minded audio and podcasting organizations and projects!