“From screen to sound”: audio social networks are striving to reach a global audience, but so-so so-so

We’ve previously discussed experimental releases on streaming platforms and noticed that labels aren’t quite sure what formats will be in demand in just a couple of years.

Music platforms have no answer either – they have been living in a “stagnant era” since the iPhone was released and do not offer innovative mechanics and interfaces for working with sound.

There is a feeling of uncertainty in the industry, and in parallel, there is a demand for new services with alternative ways of self-expression and communication using audio.

Photo: Free To Use Sounds.  Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Free To Use Sounds. Source: Unsplash.com

All against all

Guys from Breaker made a player for podcasts, and then attached comments to it, as in Disqusand that was enough to keep Twitter interested. Project you bought and attracted the founders to develop Twitter Spaces – something in between podcasts and voice chats. So the company wants to catch up with Spotify, Apple, Google and Amazon, leadingpodcasting wars“. Plus – pushing your direct competitors like Facebook. However, not everyone considers the solution to be original: for many, Twitter Spaces resembles the voice servers in Discord.

The latter recently broke the bar of 140 million users [MAU] and attracted another round of investments. They will be spent in such a way as to attract the attention of a mass audience, and not just geeks and game lovers… For Zoom and Slack, this is not good news, although – who knows, suddenly Discord will have special tools for those who are involved in podcasts, or additional options for working with sound or music. For example, own broadcast of tracks instead of synchronization with conditional Spotify. Then the service will really be able to challenge classic social networks and streaming platforms, and its novice competitors will have a hard time. One of them is Twitter Spaces most often compared.

Club house

The sensational Clubhouse project was launched at the height of the epidemiological crisis, when everyone was tired sit at home in front of screens and look for an outlet. The application did not require attention to the visual component, and for the conversations of users you could take a break from work and video calls, tidy up the surrounding space or take a walk. The audio content in the Clubhouse immediately resembled streams and podcasts, but here the listeners finally got the opportunity to wedge into the conversation and become its full participants.

Photo: William Krause.  Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: William Krause. Source: Unsplash.com

At first, only music, startups and abstract topics were discussed in the app. The relatively unusual mechanics attracted the attention of journalists, and then – ten million dollars investments from the fund of Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz [при общей оценке стоимости проекта в сто миллионов]… It would seem that such a launch can only be dreamed of, but almost immediately after the round of investments, Clubhouse found itself in the center of a scandal. His reputation was tarnished by a harassment gate featuring a New York Times journalist and a former Coinbase CTO with startups and investments.

Despite the fact that the Clubhouse developers faced with similar situations in Pinterest and other projects, they did not consider it necessary to provide tools for content moderation in their new endeavor. The startup lost momentum on takeoff, and the Western media again started talking about the fact that social networks should check the audio stream for “slippery topics” right on the fly.

Need customization

Clubhouse is also accused of asking the application for a list of contacts, although it is quite obvious that this approach to attracting new users is already outdated, and criticize him for the lack of variety of topics discussed. However, there are those who are satisfied with everything. As it turns out, the service has become popular in Germany – they enjoy stars and even politicians.

Photo: Power Digital Marketing.  Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Power Digital Marketing. Source: Unsplash.com

It is difficult to say yet how Clubhouse will develop, given the fairly close product from Twitter and the influx of fresh investments in Discord. But the problems of such startups have not gone away: it is difficult for users to evaluate the content of a conversation in advance – they often have to listen to what most likely will not be of interest in the future. Visually “scanning” articles, images or videos is much faster and more familiar. And the very concept of voice communication on abstract topics is not suitable for everyone, and there is no need to talk about new approaches to music content in the case of these services.

In one of the following articles, we will see what other startups are working in this area. Let’s talk about High Fidelity from the founder Second Life, social network Audlist and a couple of other developments.

Additional reading in our Hi-Fi World:

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