From Anchor’s founders: 2018 in podcasting

Michael Mignano and Nir Zicherman, Anchor’s co-founders, reflect on a year of progress and changes to the podcasting space.

This time last year, Anchor wasn’t the complete podcasting platform it is today.

It feels crazy to think about this from where we sit now. Today, people all over the world are getting their voices heard by podcasting through Anchor, by an equally global audience of listeners. We’ve built a platform that for the first time includes everything needed to create, publish and make money from a great podcast. We’ve grown our user base of creators to the extent that we’re now powering nearly half of all new podcasts. This year has been everything we hoped for and more.

Looking back to this time last year, there were so many problems that were preventing podcasting from reaching its potential as a global, accessible, interactive form of communicating and disseminating information. Most of these had to do with the barrier of entry to podcasting — outdated, inefficient tools for creation weren’t attracting new and more diverse types of podcasters. Instead, they were keeping newcomers away from the medium and discouraging new voices from being heard. Anchor has been hard at work reversing that narrative, and alongside contributions from many other amazing companies pushing this industry forward, we think podcasting has come a long way.

First, the issue of creation itself. As recently as a year ago, getting a podcast recorded, edited, and distributed was challenging, to say the least. Between expensive hardware, confusing software, RSS distribution, and a lack of mobile-first solutions, creating a new podcast required more effort than most were willing to put up with. Things got much simpler in 2018. Anchor’s end-to-end podcasting platform makes it super simple for anyone to capture, edit, and distribute their podcast from virtually anywhere, whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. Plus, tools like Descript enable seamless, no-experience-needed audio editing through text transcription. Making podcasting enjoyable and simple is allowing it to attract new types of creators rather than intimidating them.

In addition to the roadblocks and hoop jumping involved in podcast creation was a glaring lack of diversity in the pool of podcasters, and as a result, their audiences. We believe removing barriers to creation has and will continue to get new voices heard, and we’ve been impressed by several initiatives in the space that are providing opportunities to all. Google and PRX’s Google Podcasts Creator Program, a global accelerator for podcasters with the goal of bring more underrepresented voices into podcasting, is one such initiative. We were also really excited about Spotify’s action on this front with their Sound Up Bootcamp geared specifically to highlight podcasts created and hosted by women of color.

Diversity in podcasting is still far from being fixed and there’s still much that can be done to empower voices from all walks of life. Things are already starting to look up — while data in past years have largely shown a somewhat homogeneous demographic of podcast listeners, an Edison Research study last month showed the podcast audience is now in line with the diversity of the U.S. population. We’re dedicated to seeing (and participating in) more projects like these in 2019.

As an industry, we’ve spent the year in limbo with regards to determining the best ways to make podcasting a viable business financially. The good news is that out of this uncertainty, many different business models have emerged and are continuing to evolve.

At Anchor, we’re currently focused on fixing the advertising market for podcasts. Previously, lack of a streamlined process for podcast advertising meant brands had a hard time accessing the 99% of podcasters out there not yet monetizing, and most podcasters needed to gain significant traction before they were even noticed by potential advertisers. With the recent launch of Anchor Sponsorships, we’re putting a ton of time and energy into fixing this problem and making podcast advertising an open market anyone can participate in. And we’re not alone — programs like RadioPublic’s Paid Listens are making things easier on the podcaster side, and Breaker’s Upstream is revolutionizing how premium content and paywalls are implemented in podcasting.

With all this progress, it’s safe to say 2018 has been a landmark year for podcasting. But we have no intention of slowing down, and from the looks of it, the rest of the industry feels the same. In 2019 we’re setting our sights on growing the entire podcasting market, helping more podcasters make more money, and pushing the format further to create new opportunities for new types of content. There’s a ton we have in store to achieve those goals, from baseline quality of the platform and product tweaks that improve the podcasting and monetization experience, to major initiatives to scale the market opportunity for podcasting.

We can’t wait for the next year of Anchor.

Michael & Nir
Anchor co-founders and CEO/CTO

Want to start a podcast in 2019? Check out our handy How to Start a Podcast guide for tips and tricks on how to make something awesome with Anchor. And as always, we’d love to hear your feedback, via email or on Twitter.