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Facebook Jumps On the Audio Bandwagon

By: Dagmar McGannon    June 1, 2021

Facebook is planning to launch multiple audio products over the next few months, including a competitor of the audio-only platform Clubhouse. These new products will emphasize voice content over text, images or video. The Clubhouse-type platform will be called Live Audio Rooms and will become available in the summer.

The Live Audio Rooms platform rollout will be limited to smaller groups and public figures. The platform will eventually include Messenger, where people can hang out with friends by sending them to audio rooms. If users want to monetize their rooms, then the cost can either be through a subscription or a one-time access fee.

In addition to launching the Live Audio Rooms platform, Facebook will also help audio creators with funding. Plus, all the recorded conversations can be turned into Soundbites, another new feature that will allow people to create and share short-form audio clips. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Soundbites is like Reels, Instagram’s TikTok competitor, but for audio. The advantages of audio over images or video, according to Zuckerberg are that audio allows people to multitask and host longer conversations.

Soundbites will reside within people’s News Feed. Users will be able to record directly to their News Feed by using a separate Facebook tool.

This new foray into audio for Facebook also opens the door to Facebook’s expansion into promoting podcasts. Facebook will begin recommending shows and episodes based on people’s interests. In turn, people can comment on them and recommend them to their friends. Currently, 170 million people on Facebook are connected to a page that is linked to a specific podcast and more than 35 million people are members of fan groups around podcasts.

Whether or not audio platforms will continue to flourish is not known. Audio made huge strides during the pandemic when people were hungry for interaction with other people. Now that the country is slowly opening, it is not known whether live audio formats will survive or not. And Facebook is known for launching new products and having them fall to the wayside (e.g., IGTV and Facebook Live). The same could happen to audio. Either way, Facebook wants to make its mark in the audio space.