Let’s face it, 2021 was a rough year. Covid-19’s delta and omicron variants continued to ravage the world, Nintendo Switches and PS5s were still barely available by Christmas, and Taylor Swift had to relive her trauma with Jake Gyllenhaal just to bring us some new music. Ever the optimist, I think 2022 is the year we’ll finally see the world returning to some level of normalcy, with people returning to the office and global travel slowly reopening. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to start the new year by giving my non-expert opinion on what we should expect to look forward to this coming year in audio.
1. There will be a spike in podcast and audiobook listening compared to music
With a return to office comes a return to commuting, which I think will accelerate podcast and audiobook listening compared to prior years. While working at home, people may have background music blasting all day long so they can focus on their work. But while driving, biking, or taking the train, people are going to want to find ways to take their mind off the present moment. That’s where podcasts and audiobooks excel – I myself remember getting into audiobooks for the first time during my 30 minute commute in my prior job. At the same time, working from work also means not being able to blast music all day long at your desk. Sure, some people may use earphones at work, but I think music listening is going to actually go down this year.
Being the metric-driven person that I am, let’s put some numbers to my predictions. In 2021, 28% of the US population listened to podcasts weekly and 46% listened to at least one audiobook in the year. In terms of music, music consumption increased in 2021 to 18.4 hours per person weekly, compared to 18 hours in 2019 when it was steadily declining. My prediction is that it 35% of the US population will be listening to podcasts weekly by the end of 2022, 48% will have listening to at least one audiobook, and weekly music streaming will reduce to 18.2 hours.
2. Taylor Swift will release one new album and one re-recorded album
Taylor Swift has been on fire during the pandemic! In 2020, she released two new studio albums and in 2021, she released her re-recorded albums Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version). Now, even with some return to normalcy, I think concerts will still be fewer and far between compared to pre-pandemic levels, leaving Taylor with time to keep recording albums. So for 2022, my prediction is that she will release one new studio album and one re-recorded album. I’m even willing to put some dates to it: her first album will be a re-recorded one to drop between March and June, while her new studio album will release in November or December. We’ll check back next January to see if I’m right!
3. Fewer households will adopt smart speakers
If more people are going to be out of the house in 2023, I think fewer new households will join the smart speaker club this year compared to last year. Now, by smart speaker I specifically mean voice-assistant speakers that are meant to control your lightbulbs, doorbells, coffee makers, and all the other smart appliances in your home. I don’t want anyone to confuse those kinds of speakers with our Dio Nodes, which are meant to make it easy for you to listen to your content anywhere and everywhere in your home and NOT to control any other devices. Of course, this prediction may not just be a passive observation about global trends – with the release of the Dio Node this year, fewer households may indeed be purchasing smart speakers!