Han Solo once mocked the Jedi, saying, “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
Like the lovable Jedi returning to fight off the evil empire, audio-first applications have made their return, and with a vengeance.
Audio-first applications are the Jedi of this story. At one point, it’s all we have (radio). Then it’s under-appreciated, squashed, and run out of town. But when it makes its comeback, it’s glorious.
To understand the phenomenon, we really have to understand what’s really driving this: the audio creator. There’s no place else to start than with the radio.
I promise to stop with the Star Wars references after this.
The Radio Personality
Before the advent of the internet, there was another audio-only platform. One you could listen to inside your house, or in your car, or at the beach.
Radio shows were (and still are) driven by the personalities that host them. Whether it’s a morning music talk show or a news/sports talk show, the hosts are everything.
A good host, and I’ll stick around until the next commercial break. A bad host, and I’m changing the station. A great host, and I’m singing along to commercial jingles waiting for the segment to come back.
Something radio personalities got right was, well, their personality. And it’s important to distinguish what that personality requires.
Good clear voice with excellent tone and modulation
Great communication skills and creativity to interact with listeners
Creative thinking, to be able to think of new ideas or topics for show
Able to improvise and think "on the spot"
Ability to develop their own personal style
A good sense of humor
There’s a lot of time, effort and honing of the skills that goes into hosting a show that gives you zero indication of what the listener is thinking. And of course, there is some natural talent that goes along with that.
The Modern Audio Creator
In today’s media landscape, we’re surrounded by options. Options, options everywhere. Our phone, our refrigerators, beds, watches, even our cars are now moving computers with screens that talk to us.
There is so much noise to navigate through that being a good personality, alone, is not enough.
In addition to all of the facets a radio personality must have, the modern audio creator must also:
Engage with a live audience
Manage multiple social media channels
Understand multiple operating systems (iOS v Android)
Know how to distribute via podcast
Break apart conversations with clips
Build a community on various social media platforms
Balance sponsorship deals
Produce their shows
There is so much more that must be focused on that creators are becoming their own media brands. They aren’t just one show on WKSS 95.7 anymore, they’re the whole damn media company, advertising company and talent agent rolled into one.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.
With the new influencer feeling more like a friend or someone physically in your life that you can talk to in real time, we are going to see (or hear?) more powerful influence and connection brought to us by audio creators.
Dale Carnegie famously said:
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.
Word of mouth is quite literally becoming word of mouth again.
Clubhouse is leading the charge with Twitter Spaces not far behind once the beta rolls out to all. One of the biggest aspects for success so far has been the incredible access you can get to some of your favorite creators and some of the new ones forming.
People will argue live streaming has been around for years. But this is more than live streaming.
Chatting in a box with someone reading the chat back lacks the true connection these social audio platforms are creating.
Dale Carnegie’s quote above is the exact reason these platforms are working. You want to hear your name, you want to hear a voice, a human connection, a real reaction out of people that we’ve grown accustomed to simply being inside our screens.
It seems 99% of influencers have been looking at this all wrong. Humanizing an influencer might actually be the greatest way to influence people after all. “Authentic” is thrown around too loosely, especially when those same people are only posting their perfect pictures of their “perfect lives”.
Clubhouse rooms are becoming some of the most vulnerable and authentic places on the internet. Rooms inviting people up to share their hopes, dreams, wins, losses, struggles, and celebrations.
There is real impact in these rooms.
Collectives: MONEY IS GREEN
This week we saw the first Clubhouse collectives start appearing in the wild. Collectives have always started in the early days of apps. The way we view it is as soon as collectives start appearing it means the money is flowing.
One thing is certain, brands will always arrive late to the party, but they will always bring a bottle of Ace of Spades and a couple bad jokes.
NYU girls roasting tech guys: the first interactive live reality show. These girls took Clubhouse by storm with their honest and open show that featured people “shooting their shot” at someone else in the room to either match or be rejected. Less than 2-weeks after starting the show, the NYU girls received a sponsorship from Slice. The partnership offered a free pizza to anyone who got rejected on the show on Valentines Day.
What makes that show desirable is the hysterical hosts that are engaging, brutally honest, and quite frankly, they get how the platform works. You feel like you could be hanging out in their NYC apartment with that group, drinking and roasting tech bros.
That’s the key. That’s how you survive this space. Invite people in, make them feel like they’re at home, hook them with great content.
NYU girls roasting tech guys brings us to survival mode for these platforms. Relying on themselves to make the right moves to stay relevant will only kill the platform. Listening to the creator is their only route for survival.
People want more than just interviews and panels, they want to be entertained. If the creators can create with frictionless effect, you will see some of the most entertaining content on the internet. It was cool to talk to Elon, but we wanna see Elon shoot his shot at Grimes.
Late night shows of all type will start popping up. Audiences want hype, they want to laugh, they want true entertainment.
Social audio is powerful yet so fragile. If these platforms can hold strong for 6-12 months, they could end up being around for years.
Vaccines are coming. The world will be opening. People will be leaving their homes. In person social will rocket back into full effect. Less people will be sitting around on their couches willing to just jump in a room to listen to talk.
But this doesn’t mean habits haven’t been changed. The creators that use this time to build something special will be able to bring their audiences anywhere. And with audio leading the way, the opportunities are endless.
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