Social audio is basically talking. You log onto an app, find an interesting topic, go to a "room," and chat away. During the pandemic, Locker Room helped stand-in for the neighborhood sports bar. The app became a popular place for people to host watch parties and talk about their favorite teams.
The need for casual conversation also helped fuel the growth of competing apps like Clubhouse. Since its launch last March, the app has managed to pull in eight million users despite being iOS exclusive
Social audio apps have risen as alternatives to watering holes, watering coolers, and even the stage during the pandemic era. Prominent cultural figures frequently turn to apps like Clubhouse to chat with and perform for their fans in real-time.
Social audio's ability to facilitate communication between creators and their fans has Spotify particularly excited. "The world already turns to us for music, podcasts and other unique audio experiences," said Gustav Söderström, Chief R&D Officer at Spotify, in a blogpost. "And this new live audio experience is a powerful complement that will enhance and extend the on-demand experience we provide today."
According to the Wall Street Journal, it's likely Spotify will relaunch the Locker Room app sometime in the coming months. In a blog post, Spotify described its plans to expand the Locker Room app to suit a broader range of creators and fans. Meanwhile, the relaunched app will likely include features that allow creators to record their live audio sessions and then upload these sessions onto Spotify in the form of podcasts.
Other capabilities envisioned by Spotify include, ask me anything (AMA) sessions with celebrities and prominent creators, live concerts and listening sessions with musicians, and real-time discussions with sports-casters during significant games.
Spotify's move into live audio makes sense, particularly considering the hundreds of millions the company spent coaxing creators onto its platform.
Said creators could leverage these new features to facilitate audience engagement through live conversations. Creators could even charge listeners to participate in these chats, giving them a whole new revenue source.
But another question looms over Locker Room's likely relaunch. Will Spotify try to use Locker Room to compete with other social audio apps like Clubhouse?
It seems unlikely. Given Spotify's past moves, it seems the companies main interest in Locker Room is to use its features to build relationships between creators and listeners.
Perhaps the more significant question facing Spotify, Locker Room, Clubhouse, and other social audio players is whether the extended Zoom
For Spotify, the answer seems to be, resounding yes.