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Facebook announces live rooms, podcasts and other audio products to take on Clubhouse

Yasmin Ahmed     April 20, 2021

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday announced a range of new audio-only products. Zuckerberg, in a community chat on Discord, gave a product roadmap for how it plans to build out its audio suite in the next 3-6 months. Speaking to independent journalist Casey Newton, Zuckerberg laid out Facebook's plans to build out its audio suite. Zuckerberg noted that Facebook's goal is to build audio products that will be as strong as it text, photo and video products. "At a high-level picture here, we think audio is also going to be a first-class medium," he said.

The audio products will include audio version of Rooms, which will be similar to Clubhouse.
Facebook audio products will also feature soundbites which is a short-form audio product that will feature a stream of brief clips. Zuckerberg noted that soundbites will be like an audio version of Reels, a short video format that was introduced by Facebook last year. Users will be able to share individual clips to their News Feeds, or they can consume a string of audio clips joined together and algorithmically distributed in a feed.

Facebook will also roll out podcasts, and it will build a podcast discovery tool for creators to share their podcasts with users on the platform, Axios reported. Facebook will partner with an external podcast app and guide users to that app to listen to podcasts in the background of their Facebook experience. Facebook, in a blog post, noted that it is also working on the intersection of these audio products.

"With live audio, creators will be able to turn a live conversation into a podcast for everyone to listen to later. We also want to give creators and fans tools to share the best excerpts from live audio or podcast and publish them as Soundbites to encourage more discussion," Facebook noted.

It also noted that it will offer captions on all audio experiences to make them accessible to everyone. Facebook will also feature live audio that according to Zuckerberg will help users boost the creator economy. "Every once in a while a new medium comes along that can be adopted into a lot of different areas," he said. He also emphasised that the audio efforts are about helping creators monetise their work better. He said that Facebook is focused more on the creator side than the consumption side.

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