Reddit is Quietly Testing a Social Audio Feature: Report
Reddit is joining the social audio gold rush, as first reported by Mashable. The concept is still in early development, but the forum hub could add Clubhouse-style voice chats to go with the text and image-based communications that are standard.
Reddit’s new feature would work much like Clubhouse and most of the other social audio experiences popping up this year. Moderators would control the voice chat and pick who will be the speakers. Reddit didn’t respond to a request for comment, but the initial report suggests that the feature’s actual format is still up in the air. Social audio could end up situated in the premium “power-up” program that Reddit started experimenting with last summer. Power-ups are extra features that users can pay to subscribe to get. The first test includes longer and higher-quality video uploads and in-line GIFs in comments. Attending or hosting social audio chat rooms feels like it would be a natural fit for the extras Reddit is looking to add.
“We’ve had many requests over the years for features that subreddits find desirable,” Reddit explained when announcing power-ups. “We want to enable all sorts of content that helps build communities on Reddit, but we also need to pay the bills. So, we’re experimenting with a new way to build these features. The new experiment helps create a framework that allows us to add “nice to have” features for subreddits. We are starting with a few handpicked features and expect to add more as we get input from you and the communities that have opted into our early testing.”
The mushrooming number of social audio options has only accelerated in response to Clubhouse’s success in adding new members. Startups like Quilt and Swell are picking up investments and users of their own, but many existing companies want to take part in the boom. Twitter Spaces, Telegram’s Voice Chats, and LinkedIn’s experiments in social audio have all gained traction. While Twitter’s efforts to buy Clubhouse might have ended, Spotify chose that route to launching a social audio option when it acquired Betty Labs, the startup behind sports-focused social audio app Locker Room. Discord has just launched a new social audio feature called Stage Channels, which are explicitly about people showing off their creations. Discord could extend its existing premium feature subscription option, server boosts to enhance its group audio chats, so it’s easy to imagine an extension to Stage Channels. Reddit may go for that look with its own social audio, but it will likely have a unique spin on the concept as the Reddit brand is already well-defined.