The next big social network trend? Short voice


“So I’ve identified a few metrics and KPIs I’m going to monitor to improve my overall life experience,” Farbod Nowzad says seemingly seriously into the phone’s microphone.

He lists his KPIs or key performance indicators: the number of smoothies he eats each week, the time he spends listening to live techno music, and the number of rooftop bars he visits. I tap to hear more. Someone named Nikolai recommends that people maximize the “number of water supplies coming into your field of view each day” and “the number of times you can say,“ I have an ordinary ”and that someone else understands it.” More people are ringing, all in audio clips in less than 90 seconds.

For many founders and investors, this is the future of sound: short-term recordings that are social, shareable, and thought-provoking, or that at least make you listen and say something.

Several startups, including Beams, Questand the Nowzad app Pludo betting on their efforts and investors ’money that there is business in this user-created voice. Even the world’s largest social forum sees this as an opportunity; Facebook announced Soundbites earlier this year, the upcoming product was also built around shared, short audio clips. They all see what’s going on at TikTok – a bunch of people creating official video clips – and want to repeat the success with just a voice. It could be the next virus limit and a tool that hits new stars and makes a lot of money for everyone if any of these apps really go away.

The best way to think about these efforts is with voice memos, except that your voice memos have a time limit and people can respond to them more with voice memos that also have a time limit. Oh, and the voice memos haven’t been edited either. It’s like taking the social perspective of the clubhouse, but limiting it with a time limit, though the analogy that goes on when I talk to the founders is Twitter, and blogs.

“[Once we had blogs] we then had tools like Twitter and Tumblr that removed all the complexity and just said, ‘You don’t have to think of yourself as a blogger, just type the words in the box and press the publication’, which led to this a lot of creativity, ”says Austin Petersmith, Founder and CEO Club, another short-form sound platform that is currently in beta and has raised its first round of funding, although Petersmith does not disclose the amount.

According to him, making an online microphone and a time limit for podcasting easier to approach.

“Hundreds of millions of people actively make TikToks, hundreds of millions of people actively blog, and less than a million podcasts are active,” he says. “I don’t think it makes any sense.”

Screenshot of the rack interface.

Racket limits people to nine minutes of recording that they can do right now online. However, the application is under development, as are plans to make the platform open to all. Petersmith says 18,000 minutes of votes have been released since the company was launched this year; 70,000 people have listened to the racket, which they call snippets of sound; and 17,000 people have signed up.

But why voice mania now? Alan Sternberg, founder of Beams, whom he and his founder have raised $ 3 million, says the arrival of apps is due to a combination of factors: improving phone microphones, a clubhouse recommending the idea of ​​social audio, and a quick speech-to-text transcription.

None of these apps provide RSS feeds to share content with other apps, putting them into virtually their own vehicles through which people can consume and create content. They really aren’t podcasts. Sternberg says RSS is even a problem because it doesn’t allow social networking to grow in one application.

“I think the RSS problem when you look at podcasting is like a distributed technology that hasn’t been made into a social network,” he says, that’s why applications like Beams need to exist.

At the same time, for investors, a short-term sound trend is a sensible way to build the success of live social audio applications and improve them in the minds of at least one investor. Racket investor Jake Chapman points out a number of things he sees with live sound. Namely, conversations deviate from the promised room issue on the track, such as the nature of the conversation, and because they are live and not recorded, at least in the case of Clubhouse, the app cannot be optimized for discovery.

“I think short snippet audio companies have a much better chance of success [than apps like Clubhouse], “he says.” I think they can scratch the same kind of itching. So, for example, Racket, because the rackets are pre-recorded, so they are asynchronous, and because they are short, the signal-to-noise ratio is completely reversed. “

He also says that applications that specialize in long-form audio have a higher cost when writing hours of conversations and optimizing the findings around them compared to short-term ones.

Screenshots of Quest’s short-term audio program focusing on career counseling.

Of course, podcasting has been around for years and is its Also a Big Tech moment. Amazon recently bought in addition to the podcasting hosting company podcast network Wondery, and Spotify has spent more than $ 1 billion on exclusive content stores and acquisitions worldwide. No one really thought podcasting was broken, but Big Tech saw an opportunity to make money, mainly by offering and targeting ads to programs, and seized it.

Spotify in particular bought Anchor in 2019, no doubt an application that was a pioneer in the idea of ​​mobile voice recording. However, it didn’t focus on short-form audio, and it’s designed to more democratize podcast creation, as it’s trying to do today. The anchor tried to make his app a listening spot as well as create, but never made it a destination.

That’s a real hurdle for these startups. Podcasts thrive when they’re available on a variety of platforms – some performances do well on YouTube, others find an audience on Apple Podcasts, and others do well in Pocket Casts. But these new apps and their founders keep locked content going.

However, these startups face two major obstacles: Facebook, which will soon be in space and plans to come costs a billion dollars content producers across its platform over the next year, and the existing question of whether people want to hear this form of sound. Do we hear anyone really unfamiliar give them ideas about KPIs to optimize their lives? Or would they just like a tweet?

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