Anchor began its life in a way not dissimilar to Clubhouse: an audio sharing tool frequented by Silicon Valley investors and growth hackers. In 2018 it pivoted to providing free podcast hosting, and has remained a popular choice for beginners and those wanting to save money.
Anchor has a well-considered mobile app that makes content production easy, however it’s geared more towards a style of podcasting that doesn’t really offer value or sustainability: a sort of call-in talk show with added music, thanks to Spotify. This offering adds confusion into the market, as it leads people to think that commercial music can be used in podcasts, and that the “podcasts” produced through the Anchor app can be heard on any app (which they can’t).
Anchor is simply a low-friction way to upload content that can be serialised via RSS. Onboarding is simple, and every podcast gets a cute single webpage. In that way, it’s a solid choice for those who use a podcast as a highlights package of a live Zoom call, Crowdcast show, or who are repurposing audio from a YouTube channel, since its lack of features or useful analytics essentially make it a hard-drive with an RSS attachment.
Spotify bought the product in early 2019, and it’s now IAB compliant, so although the metrics are fairly high-level, the numbers themselves should be accurate. It’s important to them since Anchor relies on DAI to make money.
Toys like the recording app and their previous deal with Apple that flooded podcast directories with test shows have given Anchor a bad rep among many podcasters, or probably more accurately, among those whose job depends on having a poor opinion of Anchor (which was once me). That said, I think they’re misleading podcasters and helping to foster a monetisation-first strategy – rather than a quality-first one – by encouraging new podcasters to advertise Anchor on their shows. No-one’s listening to those shows so it’s not creating an industry-wide problem, but it teaches bad habits and fosters the idea that monetisation is the first goal of a podcast, rather than creating something that is of value to its audience.
I have a couple of podcasts on Anchor that I want to preserve, and for that, I can’t fault it. I also have clients who use the service, because – as mentioned in the description – its simplicity and lack of features make it valuable to those for whom podcasting is only a small part of a much wider media offering.
It has a friendly, modern interface which is easy to use and difficult to get lost in. The webpage it produces for podcasts is OK, but no substitute for a real podcast website.