Last fall, Brooke Berry—now responsible for creator development at Snapchat, and at that time running social media VidCon—told me that the next social media platform would be “an Instagram for audio content.” 

“We think we're so reliant on visuals, and unfortunately there's this idea [that] if you're not good-looking enough or interesting-looking enough there's no space for you, and that's simply not true,” she said in our interview

At the time, she gave Twitter’s new voice-tweet feature as an example of what was to come. But it wasn’t until the last couple months that I really started to see audio blast off. Or, rather, hear it. 

Clubhouse is of course the most obvious example. Currently invite-only, the platform enables real-time, on-the-fly voice-only discussions in “rooms” and “clubs” centered around specific themes and topics. There’s already a well-worn joke about Clubhouse—that it’s just podcasts without the editing—and a slew of copycats, like Quilt, Twitter Spaces, and a rumored Facebook competitor

Spotify, which ushered music into the streaming age, is now pouring resources into podcasts and other content beyond music. The company acquired Gimlet in 2019, recruited stars like Joe Rogan (for The Joe Rogan Experience podcast) and David Dobrik (to narrate an audiobooks), and will soon test paid podcast subscriptions. CEO Daniel Ek recently predicted that the platform will host 50 million audio creators by end of 2025.

In the world of online audio, these are—potentially, at least—tectonic shifts. But those shifting plates are already teeming with life, creators of every variety experimenting and finding audiences on platforms new and old: ASMR soothers on YouTube, communities of plus-sized sex workers on Clubhouse, wannabe pop stars making the leap from TikTok to YouTube to Spotify, even your friend who insists on dropping voice notes into the group chat. They are all making noise, and this week on nofilter, we’re posting one or more articles everyday to tell you about them.


‘SOUND ON’ SO FAR: THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES (UPDATING DAILY)

Podcaster Kathryn Nicolai Shares Her Secrets for Helping You Sleep
The Nothing Much Happens host and yoga teacher has now published a book.

Everyone’s TikTok ‘Bestie’ TikToshh on Breaking the Viral Sound Barrier
The Atlanta-based mother of seven on her dreams for the future.

Is There a Place for Deaf Users In the Audio Boom?
Accessibility is hard to come by for deaf and hard of hearing users on Clubhouse, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.

Clubhouse Fatigue Is Real. Here’s What to Do About It
Some creators and superusers are stepping back from the app — and rejoining with new personal ground rules.

Ambience YouTube Might Be the Greatest Content to Come Out of the Pandemic
Meet the ambience creators transporting viewers out of their homes and into the Hogwarts Express to Dunder Mifflin.

How Top Clubhouse Creators Built Authentic Communities
The app, known for exclusivity (and, sometimes, harassment), has succeeded thanks to its most diverse clubs.

Voice Note Etiquette, Explained by Compulsive Voice Note Texters
Writers Harron Walker, Safy-Hallan Farah, and Morgan Baila insist on voice notes in the group chat. And all chats.

TikTok Sends Songs Up the Charts. But Can It Create Actual Pop Stars?
Creators like Nessa Barrett and LILHUDDY are attempting to prove that Lil Nas X was not a fluke.


Watch this space for at least one new story every day this week.