Socialising podcasts 

With social audio platforms gainaing popularity, apps like Clubhouse and Twitter Space have been able to increase their userbease PHOTO:Getty

Clubhouse is all set to launch its Android app in India, but what exactly are social audio platforms and what new are they bringing to the table?

After Facebook, the social media space exploded branching off into different formats including vlogging, microblogging and others. Now a similar situation is playing out in the social audio formats. Popularised by podcasts, this audio format is growing at a rapid pace and the introduction of Twitter spaces and apps like Clubhouse may just be the boost that can bring social audio to the level of popularity enjoyed by other social media apps. 

Set to make its Android debut in India on May 21, Clubhouse is an invite only social audio app that has gained a lot of popularity in the recent months. A feat that can, in part, be attributed to Elon Musk joining in a Clubhouse room. Even Bill Gates joined in and the app’s popularity has skyrocketed since. 

Clubhouse till now is an invite only app, so users need an invitation for access. This makes it a sought after space where serious discussions and interactions take place. This has also given Clubhouse the opportunity to work on its server infrastructure and development which would have been a difficult task had it been an open platform. So after launching the app for iOS users, it is finally making its Android debut. 

Clubhouse may have grabbed the limelight for now, but there is no dearth of social audio apps and spaces that are fast becoming a way for people to connect. Twitter space, Discord, Facebook, Spotify, Reddit, LinkedIn, Slack and Telegram all have either launched spaces for social audio or are working towards offering a similar experience to users. 

The platform is also known for its unique style wherein it does not have a fixed logo, rather the image in the logo keeps changing — the images being used of eminent individuals who have contributed to or have helped shape the format. 

For users who may not be familiar with the concept, social audio platforms differ from podcasts in the key aspect that they allow live interactions with participants. While in a podcast there is usually a host who regularly appears on show along with guests who do the talking. In social audio spaces there are no fixed guests and live interactions take centerstage. Usually being a lot more interactive than podcasts.  

The popularity of social audio networks can be judged from the ever increasing number of people using Twitter’s social audio service Spaces. Twitter space currently allows users with more than 600 followers to host a space. 

Screenshots of Clubhouse iOS and Android app stores

So what does it mean for users?

For users the biggest benefit of social audio formats like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces is the access they have with people hosting the sessions and spaces. Live audio sessions mean that users have greater access to speakers, which is a big selling point for these social audio platforms. Individuals like Elon Musk, Mark Zukerberg and others ensure that these sessions provide valuable access and the opportunity to talk about topics ranging from cryptocurrencies to stand up comedy. 

Fatigue from the pandemic and the ever present threat of Zoom calls, which leads to a plethora of adjustments being made for social or professional video calls, is taking its toll on users and many are looking for less invasive alternatives to interact with and keep track of important social and professional developments. In such a scenario, social audio networks provide a much needed respite and novelty to the social media bouquet. 

For investors social audio platforms are a hot favourite, the growth of Clubhouse is a testament to the future prospects and the extent to which they can be harnessed to increase reach. As such more and more investors are willing to put in the necessary capital for development of such platforms. 

Further these spaces are being used by brands to establish better interactive sessions with users and their customer base. There are over 300 social audio apps currently circulating in the market, trying to make their mark. It shouldn’t be long before we have a consolidated market for social audio spaces that will provide a streamlined experience to users. 


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