Medium adds audio versions of selected stories for members
I love spoken audio content. Over the last few years, I have found myself listening to more and more audio content. I enjoy podcasts and have switched to audiobooks for the majority of books I read.
Medium’s audio versions are currently only available for a handful of selected articles and these are only available to Medium members. I truly believe that the introduction of this new feature is a great decision and one that will help increase the number of paid members. Which in turn, will hopefully mean that membership can be a sustainable business model for Medium.
Audio content is increasingly popular and by making this feature only available to members it really increases the appeal of the Medium membership.
People are much more willing to pay for something if they really gain value from it and if doing so gives them something they desire or find useful. Prior to the launch of audio content on Medium the main benefit of becoming a member, apart from supporting the platform, was the ability to access the improved bookmarks feature which allows for bookmarked articles to be read even when offline. The issue is that most people who are interested in this functionality already use a read it later service such as Pocket or Instapaper. There are member only articles, but currently, I don’t think these are compelling enough to make you want to subscribe. Especially when there is so much great content available for free on Medium.
There are ways, more accurately hacks, which allow you to listen to articles in audio form. However, the majority of these hacks deliver the content in a text to speech computer voice. While functional, it is just not the same. The experience and listening quality is not comparable to a great narrator reading the content, as with audiobooks.
Pocket has offered audio narration for some time, but as it is a text to speech computer voice it has always stopped me using the feature heavily. After a while I just get sick of listening to it.
This is where Medium’s audio content stands out. All of the audio content that is offered is read by a narrator. I have always found this to be one of the best features of The Economist’s app.
It’s a great product decision. You can listen to articles while going about your daily business, which keeps you coming back for more and leads to you consuming more of their content.
If anything audio versions of articles are even better than audiobooks. Articles are generally shorter and don’t have long, complex or twisting plots which when listening to them instead of reading, can be difficult to follow unless given your full undivided attention.