What’s My Beef With Anchor.fm?

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(By Dave Jackson) The problem with being in podcasting since 2005 is you see a few not-so-good things. When Anchor.fm came on the scene I rolled my eyes, as I have seen this before.

Free Doesn’t Work
I can think of six companies that offered free media hosting. They all have failed. 

The business plan is that they will pay for the bandwidth by selling advertisements against your content. Why this doesn’t work is if someone actually grows a show to where they can have their own sponsor they leave the free platform. Why give the platform the money when you can leave and take your audience with you? 

The average life span of a free media host is 45 months. Anchor (according to CrunchBase) was founded in 2015. Their first seed round of money was in August 2015. When they were acquired by Spotify that would put them at 42 months (1,272 days). 

I could write a manifesto on this, but I’ll stick to the easy facts. Why do I need to stick to facts? I work for an Anchor competitor, and many people will write this off as “Of course he is saying that” and to those people, I urge you to read on.

A Lack Of Categories
With other hosts, you can add up to three categories for your feed to be used in Apple Podcasts. Anchor gives you one.

A Lack Of Information To Their Customers
When you click on the button to “Make your podcast available on all major platforms,” they do not say, “Oh, by the way, this will block your access to additional Apple stats in podcastsconnect.apple.com, and it will block your access to additional stats in Stitcher.” 

That is not mentioned anywhere. Anchor has control of your show under their Apple ID, and some sort of ID for Stitcher. 

As someone completely new to podcasting doesn’t know what they don’t know, one might feel that they are preying on the uninformed. I’m straying from the facts. Let’s get back on point.

They Block Your Access To Your Email
The email listed in your feed for iTunes Owner is not the email in your anchor account. The email in your feed is some randomly generated anchor.fm email. I tested mine and sent an email thinking they may forward any email coming to the anchor.fm account to my email listed in my Anchor account. It’s been 24 hours and I feel it’s safe to say that I’m not going to get that email. This video shows this in more detail.

This is the email address Apple uses to contact you if they want to feature you, or if there is an issue with your feed. It appears I’ll never get those emails. 

Another example: I was playing with Radio Public’s new Podcast Website tool. I put in my Anchor RSS feed and it sent a link to the anchor email to verify the account. I never got the email and consequently couldn’t play with the tool. Again, Anchor is controlling my options.

They Change Your File Format
If you upload an mp3 they convert it to an m4a file. Mp3s are the most compatible. I’m not talking about which sounds better, I’m talking about which one works when you press “Play.” 

I could go on for quite a while, but when something is too good to be true, it typically is. 

I do tip my hat to them as I think many companies are looking at workflows and ease of use to see if there is room for improvement that was inspired by Anchor. That’s great, but not great enough to overlook a business model that has failed every time it was used. 

Lastly — and this is my opinion — Anchor was born with one goal: to grow fast and get purchased, and to that end they have succeeded. Be sure to sock some of that money away (said the Instagram founder as he left the Facebook building….)

Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcaster and consultant. He started the School of Podcasting in 2005 and has helped more podcasters with their podcast than any other human on the planet. Find him at www.schoolofpodcasting.com. 

8 COMMENTS

  1. Great points. There is a workaround to the Apple Podcasts stats; I set up an anchor account, opted not to published to all platforms the first episode, and took the RSS feed and added it to Apple first. I went back and pushed it through all the platforms. Once I was approved for Apple, you can see my original submitted feed and Anchors. They actually merge to one RSS feed and I can see the analytics for the podcast via Apple Analytics. Not sure about stitcher but the same thing may be applicable.

    • thanks a lot for the post, Dave it was insightful. Hey Whitney I followed your advice and did not publish on all platforms but when i submitted my rss feed url to podcast connect I got a message saying “no episode exists in your feed” even though it is published on anchor.fm already. all the 1400*1400 requirement checks out. please help

  2. Good and valid points Dave. Thanks for pointing them out. The “build it until it gets acquired on the backs of users who get very little/nothing” model of startups and app development ticks me off. I can’t say how much and maintain my Christian composure.

    I get it. It makes money. But it’s dumb and abusive and doesn’t add value to listeners or podcasters in the long run. Unless Spotify uses the tech its acquired to create something TRULY useful that makes us all go WOW and provides a better user experience. Who knows – those Spotify folks are smart. We’ll see. Thanks again for the post.

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