Soooo…If you were one of the lucky ones who got to preview my podcast while I was still in pre-production, you will have heard a segment I brought you all about the kinda “Twitter for audio” app Anchor. A couple months ago, it made headlines when it unveiled its platform that would seamlessly let you transform your Anchor “episodes” into real, actual podcast episodes, which Anchor would push through to iTunes and other places on your behalf. I went through a feverish couple of weeks broadcasting nightly on the platform and faded shortly thereafter.
Now, firstly I must say that I still believe Anchor is a game-changer in terms of providing a low-barrier point of entry for new podcast creators. As long as you have literally just a phone that can run the app…BOOM…you can have a podcast.
There are also some key social aspects of the app that I like…for instance, the feature that lets you call into shows with the push of a touch-screen button…and if anyone calls into your channel, you can rebroadcast it to your listeners. This part of it really does feel like an audio version of Twitter.
But there is one key reason that, for the moment at least, Anchor is not for me:
It doesn’t know what it wants to be.
My personal favorite part of Anchor was what I mentioned before: the social aspect. I believed it would help me connect with my listeners – directly – in a way that you just can’t when you’re publishing a traditional podcast. I also love the fact that it makes it stunningly easy to produce a show and push it out via RSS. I’m a huge champion of making it easier for creators to create.
BUT – there’s an imbalance. In the early days using the app, most of the other people I connected with were other broadcasters, all of whom were really just busy promoting their own shows. It started to feel like a saturated MLM scheme of startup radio personalities. It was impossible to tell if I was engaging with people because they were interested in my content, or whether their leaving a call-in was more of a marketing vehicle. I didn’t like how it felt. Also, even when I started, there was a rapidly-growing gap in the quality of content, between those big broadcasters who were clearly asked onto the platform as a favor or with a paid deal, and those everyday users, like me and the others I connected with. Because of certain features that were only available if you upload via desktop (such as adding a clickable link to your segment), by the time I stopped broadcasting, I’d all but stopped using the app, opting for the desktop option. Which for me took away a lot of the charm – AND purpose.
For now, I still have the app installed on my phone, and I dip into it occasionally. I won’t be broadcasting daily again for some time, and I am genuinely curious where the platform will go in the future. My fear, of course, is that, as with all other apps eventually, it will go where the money is, which is to favor the big broadcasters. If nothing else, however, it will still be a simple point of entry for new creators as a publishing tool, which in itself is still revolutionary.
If you’d like to listen to the old episodes I recorded on Anchor, just search for me in the app…I’m under Alison Pitt. If you’re interested, there’s even a few old test episodes of this show in there, so you can get a bit of behind the scenes!