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December 30, 2020

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.

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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.


Obviously, we couldn’t be talking about anything other than podcasts. 


What would 2020 have sounded like without you, podcasters of the world? We don’t want to know, but yes, 2020, in fact, could’ve been worse. Podcasts were a bright spot, and podcast creators were more than a bright spot: You were difference makers. And there were more than a million of you new to podcasting this year.


Your willingness to share stories and ideas and narratives, in all their glorious forms, helped so many listeners maintain a sense of connection, even when they were very much isolated. Which happened to be pretty important, since in 2020, connection became one of the human senses.


Your imagination inspired us—not just creatively. Podcast creators were more prolific than ever before, in a year that seemed stagnant to say the least. You worked with what you had, and got creative whether you had a home recording studio or just the phone in your pocket. You were resourceful. And persistent. To simply start or finish anything this year...not so simple! 


Your hard work and passion helped Anchor provide an even better podcasting experience in 2020, too. 


Your ingenuity and feedback informed us on what to prioritize and how to better serve you: what do we implement, when, and for whom exactly? You told us. You made great use of new Anchor products and features—reminding us that challenging times can also present opportunity. And in the end, people need to be able to share their voices in unique ways, without anything getting in the way. This was truly a year to say it all, and we wanted to make sure there were no barriers.


Here are some of our highlights from 2020. 

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. 


Anchor was responsible for 80 percent of new podcasts on Spotify overall in 2020. That’s over 1 million new shows from all of you this year alone. Let that sink in! Anchor’s top five markets in 2020 were the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and Great Britain—while the fastest-growing markets were India, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Indonesia. India was the fastest-growing among them, accounting for nearly 40,000 Anchor shows and grew by roughly 22 percent in 2020, as podcasts continued their ascent as a formidable medium in so many regions worldwide.


So much to be proud of as we head into a brand-new year. Speaking of which...


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. 


The world continues to embrace the power of podcasts—the more diversity in age, race, location, interests, creativity, and beliefs, the better for all involved. We fully expect the volume of podcasting to continue trending upward in 2021.


It will (fingers crossed) be less about quarantining and spending time at home in 2021—and more about a sweeping realization that podcasting need not be daunting! With so many new podcasters this year, across all demographics, any remaining notion of podcasting as difficult, exclusive to “pros,” or geography-dependent was further dispelled. Which means there’s so much more to come. Think of all the amazing podcasts that haven’t yet hatched as reactions to this unforgettable year. And then remind yourselves of the record strides podcasting made in 2020 even before this next wave comes to fruition; pat yourselves on the back, and repeat.


We look forward to hearing you in 2021.


Want to see your year in review? View your 2020 Wrapped for Podcasters!


Learn more: Updates