Transistor vs Anchor for podcast hosting

Daniel asked me this question on Slack:

“We just started our company’s podcast on Anchor. Why should we switch to Transistor?”

First, I’ll say I admire what Michael and his team are doing with Anchor. They’re trying to make podcasting more accessible to hobbyists and individuals that are new to the medium. That’s awesome.

But Transistor is different. We built it for makers who are using podcasts to build their brand and grow their audience. This includes big companies, like Cards Against Humanity and Kickstarter, smaller companies, like Joe Workman’s Weaver’s Space, and individual brands, like Mike Vardy’s Productivityist.

Why you should host with Transistor

In his Anchor review, Scott Hastie describes why you wouldn’t want to host with Anchor:

If you’re serious about starting a podcast for personal brand or business reasons, then Anchor probably isn’t for you. When podcasting with Anchor, your content will be heavily branded by them. Because it’s free, they’ll take the opportunity to promote themselves anywhere and everywhere your content can be found. That’s the trade off.

If you have a personal brand or business, Transistor is built for you. With Anchor, quickly publishing audio is easy, but comes with some downsides.

Customize your podcast website

Transistor gives you control over your podcast’s website.

Customize your podcast website like Cards Against Humanity

You have two options:

Furthermore, websites hosted on Transistor can integrate with your email newsletter (Mail Chimp, Drip, and ConvertKit). Now you can collect email signups right from your podcast’s homepage and episode pages.

Anchor doesn’t currently support custom domains (yourpodcast.com), but Transistor does!

The podcast distribution conundrum

One of the hardest parts about starting a new show is you need to manually submit it to Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and other podcast directories. This can take quite a bit of time, especially if you need to sign up for a new Apple ID, or Google Play account.

On their website, Anchor promises to automatically “distribute your podcast to major platforms like Apple Podcasts and Google Play Music with just one click.”

The problem is that to do that automatically, they have to cheat a little. Scott Hastie explains:

They submit your show to iTunes/Apple Podcasts through their own account too, which means you don’t “own” your show’s listing in the biggest podcast directory in the world. You also won’t be able to access your Apple Podcast stats because of this.

In the podcasting world, your Apple Podcasts account is your key to many of the other directories. Overcast, Pocket Casts, Breaker, Castro, Listen Notes, and others all scrape the iTunes director. It’s kind of like the master copy.

If you don’t control your iTunes listing, you lose a major piece of control over your podcast’s future.

One thing both Transistor and Anchor can do is automatically submit your show to Spotify (we’re both official partners).

Scott agrees:

The issues with Anchor heavily branding themselves over your content, as well as effectively owning your show in places like iTunes, means that they really aren’t an option if you want to create a serious and long-term podcast.

The podcast player

Anchor’s current podcast player lacks a lot of controls. Here’s how it looks:

Transistor has a beautiful, “smart” podcast player that looks like this:

I say it’s smart because it allows you to:

  • Display your latest podcast episode on your website (like we’re doing above) with a special embed code.
  • Rewind, fast-forward, or adjust playback speed.
  • See more info about the podcast.
  • Embed full episodes on Twitter and other sites.
  • Coming soon: the ability to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter in the player.

Our player also has great sharing tools; just hover over the player and click the “Share” link. (Incidentally, I couldn’t get Anchor’s share icon to work).

Transistor podcast analytics vs Anchor’s stats

True to its mission, Anchor provides simple, easy-to-read stats for its users.

Anchor's podcast stats are pretty basic

Transistor’s podcast analytics go into more detail:

Transistor's podcast analytics are more advanced

Our podcast stats will show you:

  • Average downloads per episode, organized by “first 7, 30, 60, and 90 days.”
  • The number of subscribers you have (estimated based on past download history).
  • Listener trends over time.
  • A complete episode breakdown: order your episodes by total downloads, date, and average downloads.
  • How many people are listening on each podcast app (Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Overcast).
  • A map of where your listeners are from, worldwide.

Should you host on Anchor? Other deal-breakers.

In addition to what we’ve mentioned above, there are other reasons you might want to think twice about creating your show on their platform.

Anchor automatically puts ads in your podcast

When George Kao created his show on Anchor, he noticed a big deal-breaker:

Anchor puts an advertisement about their platform into the beginning or end of every podcast episode that you create/upload with their platform.

After getting criticism about the practice, Anchor modified this slightly. Their post-roll ads are still turned on as a default, but you can now m “opt-out” in your advanced settings.

Anchor automatically puts their logo on your podcast’s cover art

Similarly, you’ll notice most shows on Anchor have their logo embedded in the show art.

Anchor puts their logo on your podcast's cover art

Again, this is turned on as a default and has to be manually turned off.

Anchor doesn’t give you the option to forward your RSS feed

If you start your podcast on Anchor and want to move it to a different platform, there’s no way to automatically forward your RSS feed. Almost all the other podcast hosting companies (including Transistor) make it easy to forward your RSS feed to another provider.

Forwarding your podcast RSS feed is easy in Transistor

But with Anchor, you have to manually email support and ask them to forward your feed. Our customers have had to wait up to a week for Anchor’s support to complete this task.

(Also, remember, if you use Anchor’s to submit to Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify, you’ll lose control over those submissions if you switch as well).

On Transistor you can host multiple podcasts from the same account

On Anchor, you can’t host multiple shows from the same account.

Don’t limit your creativity! Transistor allows you to host unlimited shows on the same account, for one monthly price. (Making more shows is one of the best ways to increase the number of listeners you get each month).

“Should I use Anchor to host my podcast?”

It depends. If you’re starting your podcast for fun, or out of personal curiosity, it might be a good fit for you.

But if you’re looking to build “a serious and long-term podcast” (as Scott says), you should use a professional podcast platform like Transistor.

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