Audiofiles: The First Social Network for Audio Storytelling
1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]
Develop the first social network for audio storytelling. Audiofiles is a gathering place to stream, share, and discover great audio.
2. Is anyone doing something like this now and how is your project different? [30 words]
Audiofiles combines features of sharing-based networks (Longreads) and discovery-oriented software (Pandora), creating a unified network for audio storytelling. An “audiofile” is the unit of currency—shared and discovered on multiple platforms.
3. Describe the network with which you intend to build or work. [50 words]
Audiofiles is the network. We’re a “purpose-built network” constructed upon Facebook and Twitter, becoming to audio storytelling what Instagram is to photography. Users share stories and playlists within Audiofiles but can also share on outside networks. Audiofiles is portable across devices and platforms, letting users carry their profiles with them.
4. Why will it work? [100 words]
Public-radio fans and podcast enthusiasts are loyal and passionate but have no single place to gather. It’s a digital community waiting to be formed. Listeners are eager to share their favorite stories and storytellers. They want to easily discover and be recommended new stories, rather than search the Internet to piece together a listening experience. If they love Robert Krulwich or Marc Maron, listeners want to know what else they might love. Our recommendation engine draws from a rich well of metadata and each user’s unique preferences. The more a person interacts with Audiofiles, the more personalized the experience becomes.
5. Who is working on it? [100 words]
Lisa Tobin, the senior innovation producer at Boston’s WBUR, is Audiofiles founder and curator. She is currently running the editorial side of the site on her own. Andrew Phelps, of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, developed the site in his spare time. Audiofiles is currently an independent project and a labor of love, but WBUR is a committed Audiofiles partner going forward, which would raise awareness within a large base of potential users, and provide powerful on-air and digital promotion. In order to become the thriving network we envision, the project needs a full-time editorial position and a dedicated developer.
6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]
The Audiofiles website (http://audiofil.es) and Twitter feed (@audiofil_es) were launched November 2011. Our database contains hundreds of stories and growing, selected by us or recommended on Twitter. Users can search or browse by mood (funny, dreamy, dark) or topic (art, music, science). Users can sign in to personalize the experience, allowing them to build playlists and “love” stories they’ve heard. We have built a community of fans who gather around the #audiofiles hash tag to share stories. We have not yet built an audio storage/streaming solution, the personalized recommendation engine, or the Facebook and mobile apps.
7. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]
WBUR is committed to financing Audiofiles long-term if it proves successful. Much of the initial funding is needed to build out the network we have outlined. We are also exploring business strategies, including paid partnerships (such as curating an Audiofiles channel for NPR) and paid memberships that provide premium features.
Requested amount from Knight News Challenge: $250,000
Expected amount of time required to complete project: 1 year
Total Project Cost: $400,000
Name: Lisa Tobin
Twitter: @lisannette, @audiofil_es