The live audio wars are in full effect: Here are some of the major players

A pair of headphones
Photo by Alphacolor

Clubhouse, Spotify, Discord, Slack and yes, Big Social, are all clamoring for first place as the audio wars rage on. See below for a breakdown of how each platform is approaching the space.

Clubhouse: More Than a Fad

More CEOs talking tech. More artists chatting with fans. More celebrities popping in for Q&As. Clubhouse grew to over 12 million iOS downloads last week while it’s still in-development for Android, but the sensational app’s longevity isn’t guaranteed. Behemoths of the audio and social worlds – who have a heck of a lot more data on us than Clubhouse – have entered the gladiator pit to contend for dominance in live audio XP. When the novelty of dropping in on random conversations finally wears off, Clubhouse will need to have developed stronger internal communities and more personalized user suggestions if it wants to outlast the competition.

Enter Spotify, Audio Powerhouse

Spotify has situated itself as a serious future rival to Clubhouse, with an existing audio-based platform already deeply connected to musical artists, podcasters and listeners. Last week, they acquired Betty Labs, creators of the live sports audio app Locker Room, and with that partnership announced their entry into the live audio race. What Spotify lacks in existing live audio tech they certainly could make up for down the line with their wide audience and potential for integrations. How cool would it be to open the app and see your favorite artist going live for a drop-in concert? Or your favorite podcaster hosting a live Q&A? Spotify makes so much sense in this space. Which is not a great thing to hear if you’re on Team Clubhouse.

Discord and Slack Have (Also) Entered the Chat

Communication platforms Discord and Slack looked at the audio streaming market and said, “Hey, we can do that!” Discord added “Stage Channels” last week, augmenting their traditional audio chat format into one more like Clubhouse where only users “on stage” can speak. Slack‘s CEO also shamelessly announced they’ll be making something like Clubhouse … while on Clubhouse. While in a conversation with the CEO of Clubhouse. Yikes. Shots fired. Both Discord and Slack are oriented around communities (servers, workspaces or channels), where the live audio stage concept still seems more like a communication tool than a direct threat to the exploratory format of Clubhouse.

And Let’s Guess…Big Social Is in This, Too?

You guessed right. The early rival coming out of top-tier social media right now is Twitter Spaces, a Clubhouse knockoff already being piloted with plans to expand to all users later this month. That’s certainly not stopping Facebook or LinkedIn, who are both working on their own live audio tools. But is yet another tab on these social sites really going to take the world by storm? They’re so crammed with tools at this point that it feels more like they’re just trying to drown out the competition rather than create authentic new experiences. (Though, TBH, did we expect any better from them at this point?)

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