2021 Top Podcast Trends
The presence of audio is growing in our daily lives, especially in social networks, where it is gaining more and more followers. But where is the audio industry going? We can affirm that it has been innovating so much, as never before, during the last few years, that it will be a great rival of video content in the coming future. In fact, and according to statistics, the average time spent daily on podcasts is more than doubled between 2019 to 2020. Digital audio surpassed traditional radio in average time spent daily for the first time in 2020. People have spent more time on digital audio, and we are clearly facing a growing phenomenon. Now, what are some of its most noticeable trends?
One of the features of our time is what some analysts and critics call “the crisis of truth” or the “post-truth” era. Due to the excessive amount of information circulating on the Internet, and the political polarization which is evident both in the United States and the rest of the world, people tend to be overly suspicious of mass media. For this reason, a significant number of independent journalists have opted to inform the audience from YouTube channels and other social networks, but, above all, they have taken advantage of the growing wave of podcasts to keep their followers informed.
Despite what many companies tend to believe, most users don’t mind hearing ads in the middle of their podcasts or in between. In fact, the percentages of people who avoid paying for premium subscriptions to avoid advertising are not quite high. People don’t mind hearing an ad, much less when it has been custom chosen by algorithms fueled by Big Data. Advertising in the middle of podcasts remains a source of revenue for platforms, as well as for audio mixing and production companies like Enhanced Media, which can actually produce the ads for other companies.
Podcasts are an excellent opportunity to spread educational content of all kinds. Many people learn about history, geopolitics, arts, philosophy, or languages thanks to this simple but powerful tool. We are talking about pre-recorded classes and live masterclasses (some free, others with paid registration). In fact, it is not surprising that in the future many universities will begin to record the audio of courses and lectures to offer them to the public on a massive scale, and, likewise, teaching platforms such as Coursera or Domestika. Children’s education is also a growing trend, considering the period of confinement during the Covid pandemic, in which millions of children could not go to school for months.
Countless publishers have understood the importance of this format, not only because people today are looking to make the most of their time while driving to work, doing the dishes, playing sports, as well as many other activities while consuming quality content, but because there is a market sector for whom it is most convenient: the blind people. Due to the high cost of Braille books, not to mention their large size, blind people prefer to listen to audiobooks. Today, both fiction and non-fiction books are listened to as podcasts on streaming platforms such as Spotify, where you can find, for example, many, many books from Bloomsbury, and more are being added to the list every day. This small boom in audiobooks could also awaken new trends, such as the extinct radio soap operas, and, subsequently, more voice actors (and academies for training them, of course).
Some of the phenomena derived from the use of social networks and forums such as Reddit are communities: auto mechanics, rock history, creative writing, healthy living, craft beer, religion, cancer patients, fan fiction, LGTB, conspiracy theories, vegan life, entrepreneurship, etc. It is a vast universe here. There are podcasts for all kinds of audiences and preferences, as well as high demand for audio content. People are not only looking for entertainment, even though a comedy will never go out of fashion. Each podcast can be classified in some community and will always have listeners once it is placed at the right spot. Hence, the importance of algorithms to recommend content to users of streaming platforms.
Monetization, app development, and digital marketing
The exponential growth of podcast consumption, in turn, creates more and more specialized jobs. Marketers working solely in this field, new apps, and platforms, and millions of content creators who will earn money by monetizing their podcasts: this is already a thing, and it will surely grow in the future. And, of course, the sales of recording equipment, consoles, microphones, software, studios, and all the tools needed to produce podcasts will skyrocket. Likewise, streaming platforms will have much more live and real-time traffic, and this will require entire armies of programmers to create and maintain such a flow of information. It’s a growth industry, and that means complex gear.