Facebook will add podcasts and other audio products to its platform

Facebook announced on Monday that its users will be able to "listen to podcasts directly on the Facebook platform" in the coming months, at a time when the audio market has grown notably in the context of the pandemic.

The social media giant will also add tools for creating audio, short sound formats and especially live “chat rooms”, inspired by the success of Clubhouse, where users listen to or participate in discussions without images. AFP review.

"We think a lot of magic happens at the intersection of audio formats, as well as the confluence of text, audio and video," Facebook app chief Fidji Simo said in a blog post.

Facebook's plan to integrate audio tools into the social network comes at a time when it is working to avoid losing users to Clubhouse.

Facebook has seen a steady increase in users opting for voice, from audio calls on the social network to leaving spoken messages using WhatsApp.

The Silicon Valley giant builds new audio tools that Simo described "like having a sound studio in your pocket."

Detailed that users will be able to create short snippets of sound, such as jokes, anecdotes or spontaneous thoughts.

"While we strongly believe in the power of short form audio, we also know that some stories and conversations deserve more airtime," said Simo.

Earn money

More than 170 million people are already connected to hundreds of thousands of Facebook pages with podcasts and more than 35 million are members of podcast fan groups, but to listen to them you have to leave Facebook.

"In the coming months, podcasts will be able to be listened to directly in the Facebook application, both while using the application and when the application is in the background," said Simo.

In this framework, Facebook will expand its partnership with Spotify so that users can share and listen to podcasts, the company said.

Facebook also plans to start testing Live Audio Rooms and expects the feature to be available to all users by the middle of this year.

To make its audio offerings sustainable in the long term, Facebook is devising ways for users who create content to earn money, Simo said.

Creators who open Live Audio Rooms will be able to receive payments directly from fans, and Facebook plans to add an option to charge for access, he added.

Influencers (actors, activists, etc.) and fans will be able to use new sound creation tools, in particular to record “Soundbites”, a format that will be piloted in the coming months. 

They could be, for example, poems, anecdotes or even humorous sketches. 

Security and privacy safeguards are also being added to audio functions, the social network said.

Respond to demand

The announcement came a day after Clubhouse announced the closing of a new round of funding, as the popular live audio app seeks to scale to respond to demand. The latest round gave the startup a valuation of $ 4.000 billion, according to industry sources.

Launched last year, Clubhouse seeks to establish itself as the standard-bearer for digital audio and has already inspired copycat products.

For years, Facebook has intensified its efforts to keep up with the latest trends and follow the habits of the youngest sectors of the population, in particular by imitating the new formats and networks that are experiencing a boom. 

The Californian company added “Reels” on Instagram in August, short videos copied from the very popular TikTok.

Influenced by the Zoom video conferencing service and later the Clubhouse, Facebook also expanded video and audio functionality live, on the web and on Instagram. 

Podcasts and audio formats were on the rise before the coronavirus pandemic, but confinement measures and the fatigue of time spent in front of screens have contributed to a tenfold craze for platforms that allow listening or interacting without having to eyes on devices.



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