Life After Audioboom. There’s Still a Need for Social Audio
Following Audioboom’s decision last week to prevent those who go to its website from hearing content unless a user has an account and logs in, I deleted my Audioboom account today.
It’s been a gradually souring relationship, to be honest. In my view, last year Audioboom turned its back on its original user-base, people using mobile devices to post their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Of course there were some, myself included, who used it for other things too, such as audio that was professionally recorded, edited and produced in a studio environment.
The two kinds of audio could have co-existed, but one gets the impression that Audioboom almost seem embarrassed by the very real, sometimes quirky, often interesting grass roots audio that gave it that community feel.
So where to from here? There are a number of alternative options for those who want to share audio on the web for things like podcasting. I may well get back to those in a future post, but in this one, I want to focus on my view that Audioboom failed to capitalise on a golden opportunity, the chance to make a truly audio-based social network, and that a gap in the market is waiting to be filled.
Over the last few years, people took to Audioboom not just to post actuality from their mobile devices, but also to express their opinions about a wide range of issues. If you’ve been around social networks a while, you’ll have seen at least one heated debate taking place through a series of Audioboom posts. While there has been a good number of blind people active on Audioboom, a far wider group of people used Audioboom in this way. Some of the posts were thought-provoking and got others motivated to respond.
So how could one respond to an Audioboom post you heard? You could leave a comment, by typing it, on an Audio-centric site. Audioboom missed a golden opportunity to create a thread-based system where someone could hear a post, then respond to it via the medium that the service was all about, audio.
Of course you could record your own post as a response to one you heard, and many did. But it could not be linked electronically to the one you were responding to. If you were following the responder on Twitter, you might see the post that way. If people were smart enough to give a hashtag to a lively discussion, you could use your Twitter client to track that hashtag. But the linking of audio posts by way of a thread system was absent from Audioboom itself. Because of that, Audioboom never fully developed into the connected community that it could have.
I believe there is still room for a service like this. Following Audioboom’s change in policy last week, I took a good look in the iOS App Store to see what I could find. There are audio social networks out there, but they have chosen to follow the Vine model, where audio clips are very short, usually about 10 seconds maximum.
I understand that model, it’s kind of like an audio version of Twitter. Yet there’s still a place for a service that lets people express their thoughts and their views in a longer form, then encourages discussion by facilitating threaded audio comments.
So there you go. If you have the coding knowledge, and more free time than I do presently, make it happen. Done right, it would create something really vibrant and interesting. A shame Audioboom never fully embraced the concept of community, went all corporate instead, and failed to fulfil its potential.
Sadly, because they are already in the market, it makes it hard for a competitor to enter – it’d be too easy for them to reverse their policy, which is a high risk for a new entrant.
Hi Richard, it’s a good point you make. I think though that even if Audioboom do reverse their disastrous compulsory log-in policy, they’ve never maximised the potential of social audio for the reasons I outlined in my post.
Their mission is now quite different. Will be interesting to see how it all pans out.
Have you heard of Melt? It’s kind of similar and pretty small, but it’s still kind of neat. It has most if not all of the features you want in an audio-based social network.
Hi Amber, I have heard of it and I think I looked at it last week. Don’t they have quite a low post length limit, or am I confusing it with something else?
VoiceBo on the other hand is staying the course as an audio graphic social network and messaging platform.
Hi James, I hadn’t heard of this before so thanks for drawing it to my attention.
This looks like the most viable social audio alternative I have seen…but the iOS app could do with quite a lot of accessibility work I think. I can’t see a lot of less experienced blind users being too keen on the app in its current state.
VoiceBo sounds interesting. I think I’ll check it out as soon as I have a day to myself. I’ll miss AudioBoo (Never could get behind ‘Boom) the way it used to be. Change seems to be the only constant with regards to social media, however. Also, Jonathan, have you reached out to the developers re the accessibility improvements you’d like to see in VoiceBo? I’m sure this is a redundant question, but just wanted to know if more follow up after I put the app through its paces would be useful. Also might like to compare notes on its accessibility issues after I test it out.
Hey John, I’ve made a note to contact them but haven’t done so yet. The more the merrier I reckon.
I’d certainly be interested in your findings. It does look like a nice concept.