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Podcast Predictions for 2021

So, I’m a little nervous writing this post, I’m not going to lie. And this is because if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that life is anything BUT predictable! And after thinking ourselves so clever with all those punny “2020 Vision” posts we so liberally shared at the end of last year, it’s clear that we really can’t predict all that the future might bring.

However, predictions are always fun to make, and so we do enjoy putting these posts together at the end of every year. 

And if you read our predictions post for 2020, you’ll see that we did get a few things right. 

First of all, podcast ad spend certainly increased! According to eMarketer, by the end of 2020, podcast ad spend will reach $782.0 million! We also put our money on a plethora of new celebrities podcasts, and that certainly paid off! Many celebrities, including Jason Bateman, Rob Lowe, and even Demi Moore are just some of the A-List stars who all picked up the mic and added the title of “Podcast Host” to their already impressive resumes. The most noticeable of these, of course, is Michelle Obama, who launched her podcast in June 2020, with none other than former President Barack Obama joining her as her first guest.

So on the whole, we don’t think we did too badly with our 2020 predictions, even if we do say so ourselves. And by the way, we also predicted there would be more live podcasting events…we just didn’t predict that they would be virtual do to less-than-predictable circumstances!

So we’re obviously excited to pick up our crystal ball again, and peer into the future to see what 2021 has in store for the podcasting world. But we’ll only make predictions about that world – everything else is WAY too unpredictable! 

1. Greater Improvement in Discoverability

Audio searchability has seen great improvements over this year, which is obviously some great news for podcast hosts! But we’re sure by the time we’re writing this post come the end of December 2021, there will be even greater offerings in this department. First up, we believe that these improvements will lie in the improved ability of search engines to offer up podcasts as search results. And how great would that be! Imagine all the incredible podcasts you’ll be able to discover whenever you do a Google search! This is just one of the features that will be at our disposal in the not too distant future! And while we’re imagining all the possibilities improved SEO could bring the podcast industry as a whole, just imagine what it could do for the discoverability of your podcast! All the more reason to ensure that you’re ticking all the boxes when it comes to improving your show’s SEO in the present!

Related read: How to Improve the Discoverability of Your Podcast

2. Developments Concerning Podcast Censorship

One of the hottest discussions currently taking place in the podcasting industry is the issue of podcast censorship. And in particular, the question of freedom of speech versus podcast directories being able to remove podcast episodes or whole shows if they take umbrage at the content or information being shared. This is obviously very tricky water to navigate, and we’re predicting the discussion is far from over, and we will definitely be hearing a lot more about this topic as 2021 rolls around, particularly as podcasts establish themselves further as valuable sources of information.

DID YOU KNOW: In response to this issue (amongst other motivating factors), and with the motivation to keep podcasting as a platform for free speech, The Podfather himself, Adam Curry, and developer Dave Jones have set up The Podcast Index. The Podcast Index is an open podcast directory for app developers, and it’s main function is to enable developers to have access to an open, categorized index that will always be available for free, for any use. If you haven’t already, you can sign up here

3. Exclusive Podcast Deals

“Podcast Exclusivity” was a topic that gained a lot of traction in 2020. First, we saw the launch of Luminary in 2019, which sought to offer its users a “Netflix but for podcasts” set-up at a monthly rate. The reception to this was rather controversial, to say the least, but this did not put a damper on the number of exclusive deals that took place this year. And although we’re not totally sold on the idea of exclusivity in the podcasting industry, while Apply and Spotify, as well as the other big names continue to vie for space at the top, we predict that 2021 will see many a “Exclusive Podcast Deal” become a reality in our next trip around the sun.

Related read: Exclusivity – The Pros and Cons and Everything In Between

4. More Podcast Ads

This one is a double-edged sword really. On the one hand, there is an incredible scope of opportunity for podcast hosts to land some really lucrative advertising deals in 2021. As we mentioned above, the cool $782.0 million predicted for podcast ad spend by the end of 2020 is seriously impressive! What is more impressive, however, is that this number is predicted to hit the 1 billion mark in the coming year! And as the number of avid podcast listeners continues to increase, marketers for all types of companies or brands would be negligent if they did not explore podcasts as a viable means to market products or services in 2021. But on the other hand, the intensified competition for ad space also means that there are more ads cropping up in podcast episodes. Over the course of 2020, may have noticed a significant increase in the amount of ads per episodes in the various shows you listen to. And you were certainly not the only one. I often read the comments section on Apple Podcasts whenever I’m researching podcasts for an upcoming Podcast Recommendations post, and this year, more than ever before, I noticed how often “too many ads now!” appeared in the comments, usually accompanied by a solitary gold star. It is my belief that in 2021, podcast hosts will have to  strike a balance between serving their audience with their content and using well-placed ads as a successful method of podcast monetization.  

5. More Podcast Events

With virtual events becoming more viable and more successful, I think we can safely predict that 2021 will bring with it many more podcast events! The usual in-person occasions will (hopefully!) still be staples on the podcasting calendar, but with the rip-roaring success of Podcast Movement Virtual, as well as many of the other successful events held all over the world, we can expect to see a great line-up of world-class podcast events in 2021. Podcast events in general are a really great way to connect with others from every aspect of the industry, besides all the knowledge and insight gained from diverse speakers, informative panels and breakout sessions, but due to costs and logistics – besides any travel restrictions that may still be in place next year – it may not always possible to attend all of these exciting events. However, as 2020 was the year of “online”, many of the organizations and individuals who run these podcasting events had to find ways for the show to still go on. And as the technology improves, so we believe that there will be more onlive podcasting events that we can all “attend” come 2021. 

6. More Niche Events

Following on from the above, another one of our predictions for 2021 is an explosion of smaller, “niche-focused” podcasting events. Because of the relative low costs involved in hosting a successful online event, hosting a podcast event has become a totally doable activity! This means that we could see an increase of all sorts of niche-specific events taking place, as it is now a matter of simply creating a platform for your attendees to logon, rather than hiring a physical venue. This means that no matter how small your podcast community is, you could host a really successful online event to share your passion for your niche, your expertise, or just as a way to connect with your community no matter where in the world they are. We’re certainly looking forward to finding some great niche-focused conferences or events in 2021.

Related read: How To Host a Successful Virtual Podcast Event

7. An Increase in Coaching Offers

Towards the end of 2020, we saw a marked increase in “coaching opportunities” flooding our inbox, and as coaching continues to grow in popularity, we’re pretty sure this will continue well into 2021! Coaching (when done right!) is a great way to glean so much valuable insight from authorities in their subject. That being said, however, we would suggest being a little cautious before signing up for any coaching offer. While there are many who have created fantastic courses, and really have put the hard work into making their coaching sessions a valuable asset, there are also, sadly, many who are using the “trend” to make a quick buck. They usually offer the world in their advertising package, and then deliver less than nothing in the actual session. So before you part with your hard-earned cash, do a little research to see that whoever is offering the coaching session is worth their salt. Look for reviews, stalk their social media pages, and scour their website to ensure that you will be getting the value you are paying for.

Bonus Tip: Besides the warning of picking your coaching courses with care, we do think that offering coaching courses could be a great way to monetize your podcast in 2021! You’ve got the expertise in your subject, and as you build authority within your niche, you’ll be able to capitalize, pun intended, on that knowledge by designing and offering your own coaching courses. We therefore also predict that this could become a popular monetization option for podcasters in 2021. 

Related read: Top 10 Ways to Monetize Your Podcast

8. More Podcast Apps

Okay, so I don’t know exactly what this could be, but I know I am excited! And as podcasts are cementing their place as the next frontier when it comes to entertainment and information-transmission, we’re sure that more big brands as well as innovative entrepreneurs will be looking to launch the next “big thing” using podcasting as the vehicle. We already have some cool podcast-focused apps. We loved Podcast Alarm, which enables you to wake up listening to your favorite shows (talk about a great start to the day!) and we’re also loving the way Goodpods is integrating social media connections and podcast listening, but we know that there is huge scope for imagination and innovation when it comes to podcasting apps! Whether that’s a revolutionary new podcast-listening app, amazing new features to our current favorites, or something we can’t even imagine yet, we’ll be here for it! 

Closing Thoughts

And that’s a wrap on our 2021 Podcast Predictions, and almost a wrap on 2020 itself! And what a year it’s been! But no matter the curveballs or even the rogue balls 2021 may try to throw our way, if 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that the podcasting industry is resilient, adaptable, and able to not only survive, but thrive, amidst all the chaos and confusion! We’ve seen some great advancements being made across the ball, from the creative side, as well as with regards to the tech, and we’re looking forward to seeing all that 2021 has in store for everyone involved in some shape or form with the podcasting industry. 

*The viewpoints and opinions shared in this article are my own and are not necessarily or entirely that of We Edit Podcasts. The above are merely predictions, based on research, educated guesses, as well as personal input, and are not meant to be taken in their entirety as fact.

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