Facebook wants to be all up in your ear

Facebook launches 3 audio products: Clubhouse clone, “TikTok for audio,” and Spotify podcast integrations. Will it work?


April 21, 2021

The audio space has seen a flurry of activity in recent months:

  • Clubhouse just raised at a $4B valuation (mere months after notching unicorn status)
  • Spotify acquired live audio startup Locker Room
  • Apple rolled out a subscription tool for podcast creators at its event yesterday

Meanwhile, every tech co. with a pulse has a Clubhouse clone: Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter, and — history’s greatest copycat — Facebook.

Zuck isn’t just dipping his toe in the water, though

Unsatisfied with owning a large majority of our screen time — Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram each have 1B+ users — the social giant is going after our ears with 3 new products, per The Verge:

  • Live Audio Rooms: FB’s Clubhouse knockoff. It will be available this summer, and the feature will also be integrated into Messenger.
  • Soundbites: A feature that allows users to create, share, and remix short audio clips (think TikTok for audio). This content will end up in Facebook’s news feed.
  • Podcasts: A new partnership with Spotify will allow people to stream podcasts directly from their news feeds (where they can also receive recommendations).

Will Facebook’s all-in audio push work?

Back in 2016, Facebook famously did a “pivot to video,” where Zuck talked a big game of making the platform all video all the time.

Many media firms reallocated resources to video, only to find that Facebook was juking its engagement stats. The pivot was short-lived, but many were burned in the process.

A key part of the audio push is a tipping system called Stars…

… which allows fans to pay creators for their content. Tech reporter Casey Newton interviewed Zuck Daddy for the launch and notes that this “audio play is much more about helping the little guy.”

With that said, none of the products are yet available.

Facebook is telling audio creators what they want to hear, but the verdict is still out.

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