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LinkedIn, Spotify Planning Live Audio Features

They’re the latest in a string of social media and tech firms looking to jump on the Clubhouse bandwagon.

The race to be the next Clubhouse continues. The buzzy audio-only app that’s proven popular among early adopters in the promotional products industry has the rest of the social media landscape scrambling to catch up. Both Twitter and Facebook have versions, either in the works or rolling out. Now LinkedIn is testing its own social audio feature, which the social media company believes will be different than its rivals because it’s a networking feature for professionals, rather than just a social outlet.

“We’re seeing a nearly 50% growth in conversations on LinkedIn reflected in stories, video shares and posts on the platform,” Suzi Owens, a spokesperson for LinkedIn, told TechCrunch. “We’re doing some early tests to create a unique audio experience connected to your professional identity. And, we’re looking at how we can bring audio to other parts of LinkedIn such as events and groups, to give our members even more ways to connect to their community.”

The LinkedIn audio feature will include a stage showcasing the room’s speakers and a set of listeners below, as well as tools to join and leave a room, react to comments and request to speak, according to screenshots of the interface discovered in the app by reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, as reported by TechCrunch.

LinkedIn says it will be able to use its current moderation tools built for features like its live videos to help prevent inappropriate, harassing or otherwise harmful discussions. “Our priority is to build a trusted community where people feel safe and can be productive,” Owens told TechCrunch. “Our members come to LinkedIn to have respectful and constructive conversations with real people and we’re focused on ensuring they have a safe environment to do just that.”

LinkedIn hadn’t announced an exact launch date yet, but told TechCrunch that it will begin beta testing soon. Spotify, the popular music and podcast streaming app, is also looking to get in the live audio game. The company recently announced it was acquiring Betty Labs, a company that makes an app called Locker Room, which is similar to Clubhouse but with a focus on sports fans.

Adding live audio when most of Spotify’s content is consumed on-demand will be a challenge, according to Protocol, an online news site focused on tech. Though so much of the app is organized into playlists, audio chat will give users another reason to stay connected. “We think audio is going to just start evolving like crazy again,” Gustav Soderstrom, Spotify’s chief research and development officer, told Protocol.

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