For a while, social media was all about the visual, with users sharing thoughts and snapshots of their lives through photography and the written word. Then, as Vine and Snapchat launched and Instagram incorporated a video feature into its offering, sound started to make a comeback.
Outloud hopes to take that idea further by focusing completely on the sharing of audio.
The web-based platform, which can perhaps most easily be described as ‘Twitter for audio’, was founded by Ann Yuan and Nick Papacostas, two developers in Washington, DC, after they decided to do something about their own frustrations with existing web-based tools for sharing audio.
“It’s like podcasting, but easier and shorter. Posts are capped at 20 seconds — enough time to explain a thought, or to tell a joke. Users can follow each other and record reactions to what they hear,” Papacostas said.
Users can create a post by recording audio live through the site, or uploading a pre-recorded file. Users can then search posts, and if logged in can favourite posts and follow others, just like any other social network.
Posts can also be categorised into different streams, relating to a particular topic or a series of thoughts and snippets of conversation between people. For example, existing streams include Dad Jokes, Music, and Foreign Language Practice.
In terms of a social networking platform built around audio, there are a few competitors in the space: Yappie is an app letting users record up to 60 seconds of audio, add tags and a picture, and share with followers, while eevzdrop allows users to record up to ten minutes. Posts can then be searched via hashtags, categories, and what’s trending.
However, rather than being simply a version of Twitter for audio or another straight social networking platform, Papacostas said he and Yuan see Outloud more as a place for audio lovers to both record and discover audio easily.
This distinction will differentiate the kind of audio uploaded onto the various platforms: after all, unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine, the audio is first and foremost on Outloud, which changes the user’s way of thinking when it comes to recording.
“We hope to create a community where users can engage in conversations with each other through recording their voices on the site. We also see it as a way for musicians and audiophiles to share sound clips,” Papacostas said.
As well as being used as a musical diary by musicians, Papacostas and Yuan hope podcast creators will be excited about using the site to communicate directly with listeners through their preferred medium.
“We both love listening to podcasts, and thought there should be a way for listeners to engage with content creators through the medium of audio.”
The platform launched in April, seeing an initial burst of activity when it was featured on Product Hunt. Still quite barebones – it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Yuppie, for example – it’s easy to use, both in recording and uploading, and navigation. An app would widen the scope of what could be recorded: journalists could provide updates on breaking news through Outloud, while musicians could record ideas as they come to them or snippets of live shows.
With signups taken through Facebook, Papacostas said Outloud currently has a few hundred registered users and sees around a hundred visitors a day. For now, the focus is on getting a solid base of good seed content on the site in order to grow the user base.