Facebook revealed a slew of planned audio product enhancements in April, including a Clubhouse live audio competitor and new podcast capabilities. With the launch of Live Audio Rooms on iOS in the United States, starting with public figures and select Facebook Groups, and the appearance of an initial set of U.S. podcast partners, Facebook is officially launching these products.
According to the firm, Any verified public figure or creative in the United States who is in good standing with Facebook and uses either a profile or the new Facebook Pages experience on iOS will be able to use Live Audio Rooms. According to our sources, Facebook Groups is debuting with “dozens of groups.”
In the coming weeks and months, additional individuals, podcasts, and Groups will be added to both products, making them more widely available. Meanwhile, effective early this week, all Facebook users in the United States will be able to listen to Live Audio Rooms and podcasts.
Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms, like Clubhouse or comparable audio apps, have a standard set of functionality.
The event hosts are represented by circular profile icons at the top of the screen, while the listeners are represented by smaller symbols in the lower half of the screen. A bright ring identifies the active speaker. A check appears next to their name if they have been validated. In some areas, Facebook conducts things a little differently than others. For example, hosts might invite people to join them as speakers in preparation of the session or choose listeners to join them during the stream. According to Facebook, each session can have up to 50 presenters and no limit on the number of listeners.
Users can “Like” or react to the content as it streams by clicking the “Thumbs Up” button at the bottom of the screen, which connects you to Facebook’s emoji reactions. With today’s official debut, listeners can now send “Stars” to the Live Audio Room’s public figure to demonstrate their support. These Stars can be acquired and used at any moment throughout the conversation. Another new feature allows hosts to promote a nonprofit or fundraiser during their conversation, and listeners and speakers can pay directly. During the show, a progress bar will show how much money has been raised. Admins can decide whether moderators, group members, or other admins can create a Live Audio Room in Facebook Groups. In public groups, both members and outsiders can listen in on the rooms; however, in private groups, the rooms are only accessible to Group members.
All new Live Audio Rooms are announced in the News Feed and Notifications, and users can sign up to be notified when a room they’re interested in goes live. Where applicable, Live Audio Rooms will be discoverable via Facebook Groups.
With a few select creators, Facebook is also starting to roll out its planned podcast support. Joe Budden of The Joe Budden Podcast, “Jess Hilarious” of The Black Effect Podcast Network and iHeartRadio’s Carefully Reckless, Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek of The LadyGang, and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro are among them. This summer, Facebook will allow additional podcasters to join. To be clear, this new podcasts service is distinct from Spotify’s recently announced music and podcasts player, which allows users to share Spotify content on social media. Rather than being distributed by Spotify, the new functionality incorporates podcasts that are streamed directly on Facebook via public RSS feeds. With the debut of the Facebook Podcast service, the company is requesting permission from podcast makers to cache their content on Facebook’s servers, which we’re informed to guarantee that the content doesn’t breach Facebook’s Community Standards. Podcasts will be represented in the stats provided by a podcaster’s hosting because they are still delivered over RSS feeds.
Facebook said this summer they will add the ability to create short clips from a podcast, along with other features, like captions. It will create experiences around podcasts too. It’s also working with creators to develop and launch its new product, Soundbites, which are short-form, creative audio clips. This will launch later in 2021.
Facebook had been covertly testing Live Audio Rooms in Taiwan and with Facebook employees prior to today. Those experiments will go on indefinitely. Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives, as well as a select Facebook Gaming producers, hosted the first trial of the new service in the United States.
Read more about Facebook Audio Room here