Let’s talk about audio
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Thanks to the internet and smartphones, digital audio is more popular than ever before. It’s estimated that nearly 170M Americans listened to digital radio in 2015. And podcasts, finally having their moment, are being consumed by 46M Americans every month. Yet radio and podcasts — the two primary ways people are consuming audio today — are fundamentally lacking. Here’s why:
- Contributing to the medium — specifically voice content — is still incredibly challenging for the average person. You currently have two choices: you can either be a professional radio broadcaster, or a podcaster. Neither option is without significant hurdles. Education, expensive hardware, confusing software, closed distribution. The list goes on. Unlike photos, videos, and writing, creating audio has not yet been democratized.
- Most of the products that are being developed for audio today are not designed with audio in mind. They’re built for visual platforms, and often ignore the nature of the content they help distribute. In other words, they’re designed for your eyes and not your ears.
- Radio and podcasts aren’t interactive. You can listen all you want, but you can’t talk back. In the age of the internet, can you think of any other type of communication that isn’t multi-directional?
These are problems that could have been justified decades ago. But it’s 2016, and most people are carrying internet-connected microphones in their pockets in the form of a smartphone.
Audio is powerful. It has unique qualities and benefits over other mediums. It enables you to truly multitask. It’s personal, intimate, and conveys emotion. It connects you to people in a way a photo or video just can’t. As my friend Matt Hartman likes to say, there’s something very special about having someone’s voice speaking directly into your ear. It makes you feel like you know that person, even if they’re on the other side of the world.
As great as audio is, it can be so much more. Now that universal access to audio is ubiquitous, there’s unlimited potential for what audio can and will become.
One day in early 2015, a friend and I discussed the challenges and potential of audio at length. That day became weeks. Those weeks became months, and before we knew it, we were starting a company aimed at solving these problems. That company is called Anchor, and our mission is to revolutionize audio by making it open, conversational, and completely natural. Here’s what we believe:
1. Everyone should have the tools and the opportunity to be heard by anyone else.
We don’t mean that metaphorically. We mean actually heard. Smartphones can film movies and write books, so why can’t they produce radio? With the right software, everyone should be able to distribute the sound of their voice. The process should be fun, and so easy that anyone can participate.
2. Products should be built for the medium.
When building an audio product, it should be designed with the human ear as the core audience, and the human voice as the primary input. The perfect audio product should not require touch input. You shouldn’t even need to look at it. You should be able to experience audio products by simply listening and talking.
3. Audio should be multi-directional, not a one-way conversation.
As people, we communicate by talking, listening, and responding. Radio should be no different. After all, open dialogue is the means by which we make progress in this world. We discuss, debate, and agree (or don’t). We want everyone to be able to have an actual, authentic human conversation with anyone else.