Matthew Miller
Apr 20, 2021

Facebook takes aim at Clubhouse, podcast market with audio announcement

The company officially announced a Clubhouse clone called Live Audio Rooms, along with a sharing format for short-form audio clips, podcast integration and a set of audio-creation tools.

Facebook-provided screen shots of Live Audio Rooms in action.
Facebook-provided screen shots of Live Audio Rooms in action.

Social audio app Clubhouse has joined Snapchat, TikTok, Periscope, Foursquare and many, many others on the illustrious list of things that Facebook has failed to foresee the popularity of and then more or less cloned on its platform over the years.

The social-media giant on Monday (Asia time) annouced its foray into audio tools and services in a blog post.

The announcement includes:

Live Audio Rooms:

Clearly Facebook's answer to Clubhouse, Live Audio Rooms will be available in the Facebook app in Groups starting this summer, and will also be made avalable to public figures to host conversations with fans. The feature will be also come to Messenger to support private group conversations.

"We believe that audio is a perfect way for communities to engage around topics they care about," Fidji Simo, head of Facebook app, wrote in the post. 

Soundbites

A social format for short-form audio, Soundbites sounds like an audio-only version of Instagram Reels, which is itself Facebook's version of TikTok's short-form video format. 

Podcasts

Users who really wish Facebook could know even more about what they are interested in will be able to listen to podcasts directly on the Facebook app "in coming months". It appears, according to reports, that this feature will leverage a partnership with Spotify. 

Audio-creation tools

Facebook claimed that "just like we did for photos and videos", it will gift the world with audio tools that are powerful, but also intuitive and fun, directly within the Facebook app. "Our advances in AI" will make "audio quality magically great", the post said, adding that users will be able to use music from Facebook’s Sound Collection in the background of stories, mix audio tracks, and apply sound effects, voice effects and filters. 

The company said that at launch, it will introduce multiple ways for audio creators to monetise their output.

"When Live Audio Rooms launch, fans will be able to support their favorite creators and public figures through Stars, or donate to causes they care about," Simo wrote. "Soon after launch, we’ll also offer other monetization models, like the ability to charge for access to a Live Audio Room through a single purchase or a subscription. Finally, to kickstart Soundbites, we’re introducing an Audio Creator Fund to support emerging audio creators and get early feedback on the new product experience."

Facebook made no mention of specific advertising offerings or how existing advertising vehicles would work with the new features. Campaign Asia-Pacific has reached out to Facebook for further comment.

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