Facebook Launches Live Audio Rooms and Podcast Player
Facebook officially launched its Live Audio Rooms feature today. The social audio platform arrives only a few months after its initial announcement and a successful beta test last week with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Live Audio Rooms
As discussed during the event last week, Live Audio Rooms works much like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, and other recent social audio platforms. It’s available through the iOS and Android Facebook mobile apps. Facebook also has some extra elements like real-time emoji applause and live captioning that Clubhouse lacks, but it’s easy to share audio recording afterward is very similar to the recently unveiled Greenroom app run by Spotify. Listeners can look for Live Audio Rooms from the News Feed or get a notification if they are invited to one. Meanwhile, the new podcast player includes some exclusive Facebook podcasts that can play while doing other things on Facebook online.
“Live Audio Rooms on Facebook enable you to discover, listen in on and join live conversations with public figures, experts and others about topics you’re interested in. Public figures can invite friends, followers, verified public figures, or any listeners in the room to be a speaker,” head of Facebook app Fidji Simo wrote in announcing the new feature. “No matter what you’re passionate about, there’s a Live Audio Room waiting for you.”
The hosting duties are still limited to verified public figures and certain Facebook Groups. The hosts have to use iOS at the moment to create the rooms too. The host can invite as many as 50 speakers, and an unlimited number of listeners may join and listen to the live conversation. The admins of the chosen groups can decide who is allowed to make a Live Audio Room, but private groups only allow members to listen in.
Listeners who want to support the host can send Stars that they buy to support the host. When the listener sends the Star, the host is alerted about the “front-row” listener. The host can also pick a Facebook-approved nonprofit or philanthropic fundraiser to support, and listeners can use Facebook’s payment system to donate directly during the conversation. Facebook has said the goal is to start a system where hosts can start charging people to get in with a single fee or through a regular subscription. There’s some overlap with the social audio service Facebook is trying out with the Instagram Live Rooms and clear ties to Facebook’s plans for its new podcast player. Facebook won’t take a cut of any revenue the celebrities or other creators make from social audio or podcasts, at least for now.
“Live Audio Rooms and podcasts rolling out in the US is just the beginning of our audio journey. Looking ahead, we are working with creators who will use our audio tools to further develop and launch Soundbites — short-form, creative audio clips,” Simo wrote. “We’ll also soon start testing our other audio products like the central listening destination and background audio listening for videos.”