It’s been a year: Looking back at podcasting in 2020 — and looking forward

Anchor creators helped us feel connected during a year no one will forget, while podcasting itself expanded like never before.

As 2020 draws to a close and we tiptoe into 2021, it’s time to focus on something that was actually good about this year.

An unprecedented year called for an updated Record With Friends

Remember the days when a group of people could get together in a studio or huddle around a phone? (That was somehow less than a year ago!) In much of 2020, everyone was everywhere, meaning the once straightforward act of recording a podcast with people called for an update. Enter Anchor’s Record With Friends 2.0, which took the focus away from technology and tools and freed you up to do what you do best: continue creating. Record With Friends enables you to record with up to four other people anywhere in the world, for free, and they don’t even need an Anchor app or account to take part.

Video to audio — where quintessential 2020 hangouts became podcasts

Virtual hangs were up about 2 trillion percent in 2020 (by our very scientific estimations), and many of our most memorable moments or conversations happened on video. For podcasters and prospective creators, this resulted in footage of often priceless podcast fodder, and video-to-audio conversion made the transfer seamless. In a few clicks, a video chat from almost any platform or app can be transformed into the audio podcast we know and love. So there was still a sense of normalcy in the creation of a podcast: body language, visual cues, nuanced conversation, and plain old humanity.‍

Music + talk = a whole new world of opportunity

Audio storytelling as a whole continues to make giant strides as an umbrella medium, and music is a big part of the progress. Sometimes, the perfect song says more than the spoken word could (and of course, sometimes a song is spoken word!)—in 2020, music became more integral to our narratives than ever. Anchor creators now have the entire Spotify music catalog at their fingertips, because saying it all means something different to everyone.

Voice Messages came in handy — it’s like they knew what 2020 had in store

The Voice Messages feature has been around since the earlier Anchor days, but it turned out to be built for 2020. With Voice Messages, any listener can get in on the conversation and send audio clips to podcasters — without having to think about platforms, devices, or browsers. No need to even download the Anchor app or have an account to join the conversation. We always want to ensure that everyone can speak their minds, and that creators can easily incorporate all audio into their podcasts. The former and latter really came into play this year.

By the numbers: Proof that podcasting in 2020 was a year like no other

Podcasting with Anchor in 2020 was a year of more: The biggest year ever for podcasting saw more creators starting podcasts on Anchor, with more episodes and minutes recorded than ever.

2021 predictions and hopes

A look back at podcasting in 2020 offers plenty of optimism going into 2021. Aside from a year of so many firsts and biggest-evers, there were some standout trends: People in their twenties and even teens sought a creative outlet — a way to share their experiences while stuck at home. Also encouraging, podcasting with Anchor became even more global; the fastest-growing markets are truly all over the map. And podcasters creating with Anchor produced increasingly shorter episodes in 2020, a byproduct of younger creators’ and listeners’ changing content consumption preferences — and a willingness to experiment with short-form.

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