The Rise of Social Audio Apps

The Rise of Social Audio Apps

Tired of looking at screens all day, every day? Well, social audio apps might be exactly what you need.

After over a year of working from home and attending online classes while in lockdown, many are feeling the brunt of the increased screen time.

The recent rise in the popularity of audio media, like podcasts and audiobooks, can be attributed to screen exhaustion. Furthermore, the audio-only format conveniently enables users to multitask, allowing them to engage their eyes and limbs elsewhere without compromising aural entertainment and communication.

Social audio, or “voice-based social media”, refers to social media products that use audio as the primary means of communication. It has the characteristics of the erstwhile conference call, but is bass boosted to engage larger audiences.

The following are a few prominent platforms enabling social audio formats.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse is perhaps the most well-known platform on this list.

It emerged during the early stages of Covid-19. It followed the idea that individuals would have an easier time interacting with each other if they did not have to worry about looking presentable and making eye contact. The voice-only platform further makes its case by the addition of spatial audio. It gives users the experience of listening to each other as if they were in the same room. 

Clubhouse’s initial invite-only format gave it an air of exclusivity. However, now that the app is available to all Android and IOS users, the invite system is no longer in place. The platform currently boasts over 10 million users

Twitter Spaces

Part of Twitter’s latest slew of updates, Spaces allows users with 600+ followers to host live audio sessions. Replacing Fleets of the Twitter dashboard, Spaces is an interesting new way to interact with one’s following and start discussions.

The feature allows the host to invite multiple speakers while also having the ability to mute and remove disruptive presences from the session.

Spotify Greenroom

Spotify’s acquisition of the Betty Labs revamped the pre-existing Locker Room app into the present-day Spotify Greenroom. While the app is quite similar to Clubhouse, it has the added benefits of a creator fund and the ability to record conversations on the app.

Discord

Discord is a free voice, video and text chat platform that was popularized by the gaming community. Now, it hosts individuals with a large variety of interests through its various “channels”. 

In March 2021, the platform introduced Stages Channels, which allowed users to host audio lives. Similar to Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse, hosts using Stages Channels may also allow a few other participants to speak at a given time. The app revamped the feature in June to Stages Discovery, which allows users to browse through and participate in active events. Anyone listed on a community server can host a “stage”. 

Social audio is being used in a variety of ways by individuals around the world, with people holding open mics, talent shows, debates and discussions, among other things.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

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