Industry insights

2021 Wrapped for Publishers

How Audio Connected the World in New Ways
December 2021

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2020 saw the world come to a near standstill, and in 2021 humans did what humans do best: adapt. Creators found new ways to create and listeners found new ways to listen; the world plugged in and reconnected through audio.

Podcasting exploded in 2021, providing listeners with a growing array of shows, and connecting publishers with previously untapped, international audiences. In 2021, Spotify listeners spent 78% more time listening to podcasts than the year before.¹

With new commutes, workouts, friends, and forms of family bonding, podcasting became a crucial layer in the new reality of many people’s lives — all while connecting listeners, creators, and publishers like never before.

These key trends will empower podcast publishers to make more meaningful connections with audiences heading into 2022. Here’s what happened in the audio space in 2021.

1. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

No matter where, content was constant

With new day-to-day routines came new ways to recenter and reconnect. The world of sound was the best place for people to do this, with 79% of global audiences agreeing that they turned to digital audio as a tool to combat screen fatigue.²

In an attempt to rise above the digital clutter, listeners found a constant companion in audio, with overall minutes played on Spotify increasing by 23% from 2020 to 2021.³ People listened more in part because audio helps them tell their own story, with 69% of Gen Z and millennial Spotify users agreeing that audio acts as a soundtrack to their daily lives.⁴

Even while under lockdown, the intimacy of podcasting and an ever-growing library of shows made listeners feel intrinsically connected. And while listeners spent more time than ever streaming audio, even more creators scaled their business on the Megaphone platform, growing the total number of shows by 67% in 2021.⁵ 

2. The Podcast Eclectic 

A podcast for every community

As podcasting content diversified and grew in 2021, so did the number of listeners around the world; in Italy, podcast listenership on Megaphone grew 110%, while places like France (+30%), Spain (+26%), and Australia (+25%) also had significantly more podcast listeners than 2020.⁷

Podcasts became more appealing to people in different age groups across Spotify as well. Older generations embraced newer technologies, with a 57% increase in listeners ages 55-64 and a 53% increase for listeners older than 64.⁸ Younger audiences also showed significant growth in listenership, with 18- to 24-year-olds listening to podcasts 27% more in 2021 than the previous year.⁸

While listening communities plugged in and grew around many topics last year, a few standout categories made the top of the list in 2021.

Self-care and self-reflection were major topics of discussion in 2021, leading to incredible growth in the Sexuality & Identity, Arts, and Religion & Spirituality categories across the Megaphone catalog. People turned to podcasts not only to reconnect with others, but to also reconnect with and better understand themselves.

3. Sharing Is Caring

Listening together 

Toward the beginning of 2021, many people were still working from home and hybrid school schedules dominated education, which meant more time together in the house. Podcast listenership on home-based devices like smart speakers (+98%) and smart TVs (+193%) increased across Spotify in 2021, suggesting co-listening was also on the rise.¹⁰

After a year of video calls and virtual birthday parties, the world was ready to reconnect face-to-face again. But would the upward trend of “listening together” continue as more schools and businesses reopened? Turns out, yes.

When restrictions started lifting, friends and social pods got together to listen to podcasts on a variety of devices. Podcast listening in the car (+2736%), on gaming consoles (+45%), and on wearable devices (+31%) increased drastically compared to 2020.¹⁰

4. A Mega Year for Megaphone

Empowering publishers to earn even more from their content 

This last year was a time for plugging back in and coming together again, but creators and listeners weren’t the only ones doing so. 

Megaphone joined the Spotify family in December 2020. The two brands have since worked harmoniously to build some of the best tools for publishers to create, distribute, and monetize their content.

Whether used as a sole revenue channel or a supplement to direct sales, publishers of all sizes were able to earn more from their work through the Spotify Audience Network. From 2020 to 2021, publishers saw fill rates grow by 21% and total ad impressions increase by 37%, while they also saw greater advertiser diversity as the number of unique advertisers grew 110%.¹¹ 

Megaphone and Spotify joining forces allowed publishers to grow their business and connect with their listeners with renewed vigor.

Despite the last year feeling like it’s gone by in a flash, the digital landscape of life itself has changed before our very eyes. In 2021, listeners, podcasters, and publishers found new ways to build community and connect like never before. And the podcasting horizon has never seemed brighter than it is heading into 2022. 

For deeper information on this year’s Spotify Wrapped for Publishers, download the infographic below.

Reach out via your Megaphone rep or our contact form to stay in the loop. 

Data Sources

¹ Spotify. First Party Global Data, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

² Spotify x IPG, Digital Audio Expansiveness, 2021

³ Spotify First Party Global Data, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

⁴ Spotify Culture Next Global Survey, among 9,000 respondents, 15-40, Apr’21

⁵ Megaphone First Party Global Data, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

⁶ Spotify First Party Global Data, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

⁷ Megaphone First Party Global Data by Regions, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

⁸ Spotify First Party Global Data, Age Ranges 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

⁹ Megaphone First Party Global Data, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

¹⁰ Spotify First Party Global Data, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20

¹¹ Megaphone First Party Global Data, Jan-Oct’21 vs. Jan-Oct’20