Twitter Spaces

Twitter Spaces, the messaging platform’s Clubhouse-like feature, is rolling out to more people, the company said Monday.

Introduced as a beta in December, the audio-only feature — which allows people to host and participate in live conversations in dedicated chat rooms, or “Spaces” — is expanding to any iOS and Android users who have more than 600 followers. Eventually, the company believes it can expand that even further to anyone with a Twitter account.

Previously, only a select group of beta testers were permitted to host audio chats in Spaces, including celebrities like Taylor Swift, Nick Jonas and the cast of “Fast & Furious.” Just as before, anyone can jump in and listen.

Twitter is also working on a Ticketed Spaces offering. Launching “in the coming months,” according to the company, the feature will let hosts create a ticketed experience for premium or exclusive conversations and set ticket prices and audience sizes.

One of the controls in Twitter Spaces is the ability to invite people to speak.  Courtesy image

Both Twitter and Facebook have ramped up their entries into social audio, a niche popularized by Clubhouse. Although the trend is still nascent, the platforms are already experimenting with ways that users can earn money.

When Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms graduates from the testing stage and launches this summer, it will support monetization — initially for listeners to tip hosts or donate money to charities, shortly followed by “the ability to charge for access to a Live Audio Room through a single purchase or a subscription,” the company said in a blog post. Facebook also created the Audio Creator Fund, a program designed to help creators interested in building with its new short-form audio format.

Facebook’s cut will likely come from Live Audio Room purchases and subscriptions, though it didn’t detail how that will work. With Ticketed Spaces, Twitter will keep “a small amount” from purchases, but hosts keep the majority of the revenue, the company emphasized in its announcement post.

Ironically, Clubhouse, the smallest of these three players, doesn’t take a cut from its tipping mechanism at all, at least for now. Then again, the platform’s not hurting for money either, given its fundraising and $1 billion valuation.

Regardless, the race to figure out details like monetization signals that the tech trend may mature quickly. Indeed, speed could be of the essence here: A homebound public looking to spare their eyeballs from near-constant screen time are like a captive audience. But as lockdowns lift in this pandemic, it’s not at all clear how these audio-only environments will fare.

Twitter, Facebook and Clubhouse all seem eager to cement social audio’s place before then. Twitter has been developing at a fast pace, taking in user feedback and fleshing out audience controls and other elements like emojis. It’s also expected to support multiple simultaneous hosts, scheduling and reminders.

Now it’s testing ways to give Spaces itself more of a spotlight on the platform. One includes placing a purple bubble on the profile photo that can take people to Spaces with a click.

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