If Facebook was starting to look a bit behind the curve with no social audio features to call its own, now there are no such concerns.
‘Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’ seems the plan, as Facebook revealed Clubhouse-style Live Audio Rooms (to be tested in Groups first), an audio-only version of Reels called Soundbites (which will allow you to put effects on your voice), and a way to discover and play podcasts through pages.
And then there’s ‘Project Boombox’, a partnership with Spotify that will allow users to share clips of music and podcasts from Spotify on Facebook.
But this flurry of announcements was very much about Facebook putting its stake in the ground — none of them have launched yet, although TechCrunch reports that the Spotify integration “has already been tested in non-US markets, including Mexico and Thailand [and is] expected to arrive in about a week.”
As with other players in the social audio space, Facebook plans to offer financial incentives to creators, as TechCrunch reports:
With Live Audio Rooms, fans will be able to support creators through Stars, Facebook’s existing in-app tipping feature, or donate to causes. Facebook says it will later offer other monetization tools like access to Live Audio Rooms on subscriptions. There’s also an Audio Creator Fund being made available to kick off the launch of Soundbites.
Facebook’s plans may excite some creators and tick a lot of boxes for existing users looking for new audio experiences. But it’s fair to say that Facebook has a habit of rolling out big new features to billions of users and worrying about the problems they cause later. Charlie Warzel’s excellent piece
about Zuck’s ‘launch now, worry later’ strategy is a great read.
And some creators might have concerns that it will be risky to build a content empire on Facebook, when the company has a habit of shifting its attention away from publishers a few months after launching shiny new initiatives.
Facebook’s audio announcements happened a day after Clubhouse revealed a new funding round
, said to be raised at an eyewatering $4 billion valuation. Clubhouse says it plans to spend the money
on international expansion, more creator monetisation programmes, content discovery, support, and community health.
But with its initial buzz fading
and downloads slowing
, not to mention Facebook, Twitter, and many other rivals breathing down its neck, Clubhouse still has an uphill climb ahead, no matter how much money it has in the bank.