Facebook launches Clubhouse clone Live Audio Rooms and new podcast platform

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Launching in the US today.
Photo: Facebook

Facebook debuted its Clubhouse-style Live Audio Rooms and new podcast platform Monday, giving users two new ways to engage with the social network — and hopefully keep them hooked for longer.

Public figures and select Facebook Groups in the United States can create Live Rooms on iOS. They can then invite friends, followers, public figures and, well, anyone else who wants to tune in and contribute to an audio session. There can be up to 50 speakers, with no limits on listeners.

Facebook Live Audio Rooms launch

Creators can advertise their Live Audio Rooms in the News Feed and via notifications. Users can sign up to check out the rooms, which triggers a reminder so they won’t miss the events. Live Audio Rooms include live captions, real-time reactions from participants, and the ability to “raise a hand” to join in the conversation. You can also use “Stars” to show your support for the host. These Stars can be purchased from Facebook, and will highlight the presence of certain listeners.

“You’ll be able to discover and join Live Audio Rooms within Facebook Groups,” the company said in a press release. “There will be conversations ranging a variety of topics from learning how dance can help your mental health with the Dance Accepts Everyone group, to finding the best vegan spots across America in a conversation with the Vegan Soul Food group. You can even join a guided meditation within the Meditation Matters group. There will also be Live Audio Rooms hosted by groups like Pow Wow Nation, OctoNation – The Largest Octopus Fan Club!, and Space Hipsters. No matter what you’re passionate about, there’s a Live Audio Room waiting for you.”

Clubhouse, the app upon which Facebook seemingly modeled Live Audio Rooms, became one of early 2021’s buzz-worthy hits. However, it didn’t take long for Clubhouse to hit hurdles in terms of adoption. After racking up 9.6 million installs in February, only 2.7 million people downloaded the app in March. That number fell to just 922,000 new users in April. You can download Clubhouse from the App Store — though you’ll need to secure an invite from an existing Clubhouse member.

Whether Facebook can ride the concept back to its previous heights remains to be seen.

Facebook adds podcasts, too

Meanwhile, Facebook’s podcasts platform also launched this week, as promised for June 22. Its initial slate of podcasts includes The Joe Budden Podcast; “Jess Hilarious” of Carefully Reckless from The Black Effect Podcast Network and iHeartRadio; Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek of the LadyGang; and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro. Facebook said it will “continue to add more podcasts in the coming weeks.”

Podcasts can be listened to via Facebook, or using a “miniplayer or full-screen player experience with playback options.” Later this summer, Facebook will add a feature that will make it possible to create and share short podcast clips.

This is Facebook’s attempt at keeping up with its Big Tech rivals. Spotify continues to invest heavily in podcasts. Meanwhile, Apple this month launched Apple Podcast Subscriptions, letting content creators charge for podcasts.

Source: Facebook