Anchor.fm is currently in their third iteration as a service (as of August 2018) and have tried to disrupt the podcast space. In late July 2018, 1 out of every 3 new podcasts submitted to Apple Podcasts was hosted on Anchor. At the same time, about 80% of all shows hosted on Anchor have ZERO listens or downloads and almost as many never make it THREE episodes. While they provide a very simple entry point for individuals looking to get into podcasting, they are ultimately bad for the medium and here is why.
One of Anchor’s big selling points is that you can simply record from your mobile device and also accept calls from other users to incorporate into your podcast. While this is great an all, it does lead to some pretty poor audio quality on the whole. Yes, most mobile phones have extremely good microphones because they are designed to be high quality audio devices for calls, but the recording service that Anchor offers simply produces bad audio. Why? I do not know because I’m not sure what specific tools or API they may be using to do so. The fact remains that the audio simply isn’t that good when recording in their native app.
Access to Statistics
If you submit using Anchor’s “one-click submission” tool you, ultimately, have no access to your actual statistics through Apple’s Podcast Connect and other platforms. They control your feed and what you can do with it. Would you like to see how long your listeners are sticking with your show? Sorry, you can’t because THEY have control of your stats in Apple Podcasts. Would you like to see the average listen time per device? Sorry, you can’t see that either. What about the number of devices running iOS 11 or newer that downloaded your show? Nope, sorry this again isn’t available to you because you allowed Anchor to submit your show to the directory and they control your stats.
Trying to leave Anchor for another media host is not an easy task either. Anchor does not provide you a direct way to setup a 301 redirect. Why would you need a 301 redirect? This tells podcast apps that your show, and your feed, have now moved. Requesting to have a 301 redirect is not simple and straight forward. In the short time that I used their service I had to request a 301 redirect 7 times from their support team before someone said that they would do it. 7 TIMES! That is ridiculous. Also, after leaving Anchor they initially refused to delete my account and any cached audio in their system. Again it took multiple requests and, finally, contact from an attorney before they would remove my account and any files in their system.
Terms of Service
The death knell for Anchor though lies in their terms of service. While their terms of service is very similar to other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., it has two very disturbing terms that any content creator should be afraid of. Those terms are “transferrable” and “perpetual”
Why would a media host want to make user created content transferrable? By making it transferrable they also have the ability to take your content and give it away without your control. Does this mean another Anchor user can take your content and use it in their own show? By the way the terms of service is written, it does.
Why would a media platform for podcasting need a perpetual license to user created content? If I leave Facebook their terms of service (which so many people claim is exactly the same as Anchor’s) specifically states that my content is removed from their servers but may take a few days to occur. Anchor’s license clearly states that they have the ability to use your content forever. Review the terms of service from other PAID podcast media hosts (Libsyn, Blubrry, Spreaker, Podbean) and see if you find the term “perpetual.” I’ll give you time to go to the links and look. Did you find them?
Why would any content creator agree to such terms? Free doesn’t always mean free. You give away a lot to use their service, and as a content creator I simply can’t agree to those terms and conditions.
**UPDATE** As of 8/30/2018, Anchor has updated their terms of service to remove the term “perpetual” in regards to user content on their service and explicitly states that user content is completely owned by the end user and not Anchor. They, however, still have the term “transferrable” in regards to user content and the ability of other users of the service to create derivative works from it.
**UPDATE 2** On 11/15/2018, Anchor again updated their terms of service to fall more in line with what the podcast industry has expected. You can read those current terms here: https://anchor.fm/tos.
Paid Hosting is Your BEST Solution
Please don’t use Anchor unless you are planning to simply start and move on to another host as soon as you determine if podcasting is really for you. If you do this though, be sure not to use their one-click submission tool and actually copy and paste your RSS feed address and submit it yourself to any of the directories out there (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, etc.) so that when you leave, you still have 100% control of the feed and won’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to get it back.
Media hosts like Libsyn, Blubrry, Spreaker, and Podbean charge for their services. Why? Because they understand that it actually costs money to run a business. Anchor’s CTO has publicly stated (here) “For almost every single podcast Anchor hosts, the cost to us is less than 10 cents per month. That means that hosting your podcast for an entire year costs Anchor around one dollar. If Anchor were to charge you $10 per month for file storage and basic analytics, we would either be grossly exaggerating our costs, or grossly overpaying our vendors” yet never addresses the fact of the true cost of doing business (salaries, rent, benefits, marketing, support, etc.) or that so many of their shows have ZERO downloads or never make it to THREE episodes. They also never factor in the cost of actual bandwidth to deliver the content and not simply host the files. They never talk about their business model and how they plan to actually make money. They are funded by venture capital and that could run out at any time. They have NO strategy for the future growth that they have been willing to share.
Anchor is simply BAD for podcasting.