Facebook announced yesterday that it is launching a new set of features that will emphasize more audio content and enable users to create from their devices. Audio chats seem to be the next big thing as each big tech joins the race to be the alpha of the pack.
Twitter launched Spaces for audio conversations, LinkedIn jumped into the fray alongside Telegram, Discord, Spotify and now Reddit. Reddit launched Reddit Talk on Monday to coincide with Facebook’s announcement of audio features. All the efforts by these tech companies have come as a result of Clubhouse’ early success with its invite-only audio hangouts app.
We checked out Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms and Soundbites from the information available (it is not yet publicly available). It has similarities with Clubhouse and some differences as well. Here is everything that we think you should know about it.
More audio content for professionals and everyone else
Facebook Live Audio Rooms (LAR) will let people host hangouts, webinars, AMA sessions and events on any topic by creating an audio room. For now, the feature will first be available to groups and to celebrities because of the high engagement that these two sets of users generate.
This is the major similarity between Clubhouse and LAR because both allow people to create rooms for audio conversations and others can join at will.
No invite is required for audio rooms
This is one major difference between Clubhouse and LAR. While Clubhouse remains invite-only and is available for only iOS users for now, Facebook is making its version available to all of its users on Android and iOS. The rollout is in phases and will reach groups and celebrities, then to all of Messenger so that anyone can hang out.
For most users, being able to use LAR without limits or needing an invite will make the features more appealing.
According to Reels content creator on Instagram, Dolapo Jayeola, “this will be a success if we are able to leverage on it to communicate with our listeners. I personally do not mind hopping on it if it is going to get me to my audience easily.”
LAR will let users get paid
From the start, there will be avenues for creators to receive funds from their fans. People will be able to support well-liked creators and public figures through Stars, Facebook’s tipping system, or donate to causes that they are passionate about.
Sometime after the rollout of the audio rooms, creators will be able to start charging through the monetization models that the social media company will create. Facebook says this will include the ability to charge for access to a Live Audio Room through a single purchase or a subscription.
This is another similarity to Clubhouse which already allows some users to receive money from their fans.
Unlike the invite-only app, Facebook has not said whether it will charge a fee on the payments made to creators. Clubhouse has been emphatic about its stance to let creators take 100% of all the donations made by fans after the payment processing fee.
Facebook also introduced Soundbites…
The Live Audio Rooms isn’t the only feature introduced as Facebook also introduced Soundbites, the audio version of Tiktok. With this feature, Facebook users can record short-form audios with the recording and mixing functionalities built into the app. Anyone can browse the short audios and listen to them just like they can watch short videos on Reels or TikTok.
But Dolapo Jayeola thinks Soundbites might not really make a lot of impact because it doesn’t have the full privilege of audio-visuals. “Soundbites might not really gain the ground that Facebook is aiming at because the power of visuals is why Reels has become widely accepted by Instagram users,” she said.
Soundbites has a creator fund like Clubhouse
Clubhouse has a creator fund for its creatives to aid the production of more content and Facebook has launched one as well, marking another similarity between both companies.
The company said in a blog post, “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’s launch is capitalizing on Facebook Groups which boasts 1.8 billion people using it every month and its tens of millions of active communities. The communities are expected to speed up the uptake of the audio rooms and Soundbites.
It is no news that Zuckerberg’s company is quick to take a leaf from competing companies and he acknowledged as much when he said that Facebook “certainly adapted features that others have led in”.
The competition is not folding its hands, however. Clubhouse raised an undisclosed amount at a $4 billion valuation to push the development of its Android app, the creator fund and scale its operations on a wider scale.
With new audio hangouts features now becoming commonplace, whether people heavily use them or prefer visual counterparts will determine how the big tech guys will put more effort into that space.
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