Now, more Space for interaction

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By Venkatesh

The social media debates and discussions have graduated into new domains of audio-only applications such as Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse. These platforms have been in cultural relevance to all the audiophiles out there. While Clubhouse was launched in 2020, it gained footing in India only this year. Twitter released Spaces the same month that Clubhouse’s downloads dropped below a million. And the think piece predictions rolled in once again, with delight that people now have two major audio conferencing platforms to choose from. Spaces has an edge over the Clubhouse as it is accessible to all those who can access Twitter unlike Clubhouse which needs invitation to join. Since it is part of Twitter and not a separate application, one can scroll through his/her feed while listening to a Space and even tweet about it or talk about it in DM (Direct Message). Moreover, with Twitter Spaces, it is evident that it is a public conferencing feature. Doctors use the space to talk about Covid-19 and other medical issues, film celebrities use it to make formal announcements about their upcoming projects and interact with fans and politicians make use of it in interacting with the netizens, thus making it an extremely informative and interactive platform. The simplicity of its function also makes it gain a point.

A platform for Tollywood fans

The new feature of Spaces introduced by Twitter recently is a rage among Tollywood fans. The Telugu fans are spending time on Spaces until the wee hours of every day. Celebrities coming on Spaces to interact with fans, know their opinions and take their questions is the mojo for fans. With the absence of physical face-to-face interviews due to the pandemic, the celebrities are resorting to Twitter Spaces where the fans can also participate. With the opportunity of interacting with actors being a click away, many netizens are showing inclination in joining the Spaces. On the eve of the birth anniversary of Late EVV Satyanarayana, a Twitter Spaces session named #EVVTeluguSpace was held on June 9 at 8:30 pm. On that night, the session witnessed the attendance of over 4000 listeners. The session was hosted by RJ Hemant and Allari Naresh, the actor-son of the star director of the 1990s, took part in the session along with fans. Tollywood directors Harish Shankar, Anil Ravipudi, Gopichand Malineni, Kalyan Krishna and Maruthi attended the space and spoke about the influence of EVV on Telugu cinema. Lyricist Bhaskarabhatla and screenwriter BVS Ravi also joined the session and shared their experiences along with the ace director. Similarly Indiaglitz Telugu hosted two Twitter Spaces on the occasions of Superstar Krishna’s birthday and the birthday of NTR. On the same lines, a birthday special Space was hosted for Nandamuri Balakrishna in which director Gopichand Malineni participated and spoke about his next directorial with Natasimham. The official Twitter handle of Sridevi Movies hosted a Twitter Space session to celebrate 3 years of their movie ‘Sammohanam’. Actor Sudheer Babu, actress Aditi Rao Hydari, filmmaker Mohan Krishna Indraganti and producer Krishna Prasad attended the session, shared their experiences and interacted with the fans.

Kollywood also chips in

Having confined people to their homes, the pandemic has only propelled them to explore newer ways to connect with the outside world. This open-mindedness has amplified the reach of the new audio feature, Twitter Spaces. From music to memes, cinema to caste, mental health to menstrual hygiene, food to feminism, and politics to pop-culture, over the last month, the Tamil Twitter’s Spaces has become the cradle for ephemeral voice conversations. The tweeples of the Tamil land have been using this platform by hosting Spaces and being active listeners in it. One of the most appealing features of Spaces has been the accessibility it provides users to learn and interact with the participating celebrities, personalities and leaders. It’s not often that we get to hear music composers like Santhosh Narayanan and Yuvan Shankar Raja engage with the fans and casually interact; musicians Pradeep Kumar and Sean Roldan sing renditions of their songs along with their fans; an inimitable playback singer like Chinmayi Sripada take song requests till the wee hours; or stars like Simbu and Dhanush patiently answering the questions of fans and sing a couple of lines on their request. Divyadarshini, Abhishek Raaja and Alexander Babu have been the most sought-after hosts in Tamil Twitter Spaces. The Kollywood celebrities have gone one step further by launching singles, conducting audio launches and making project announcements in the Spaces. The entire team of ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ joined the #JTIsaiTalks Space, interacted with the fans and launched the film’s music album. The session that was put together by Sony Music South reportedly had 17,000 listeners at one point. Dhanush, the protagonist in the movie, joined the session from the USA, where he was shooting for his upcoming Hollywood movie ‘The Gray Man’. Similarly, the cast and crew of ‘Maanaadu’ attended a space and launched their first single ‘Meherezylaa’. On the eve of Thalapathy Vijay’s birthday, his fans arranged a Twitter Spaces session and scored a new record with it. With attendees of more than 27,971 users, this space became the most attended Indian Twitter Space session. The star-studded session included Keerthy Suresh, Malavika Mohanan, Anirudh Ravichander, Lokesh Kanagaraj and Nelson Dilipkumar. They all shared their stories and memories with the star. On top of that, it also became the second-highest attended Twitter space globally. Korean singer BamBam’s space holds the first position with more than 44,208 listeners.

Companies large and small and startups are logging into audio-conversation rooms even as more people join the platforms. The allure of chat rooms is such that some companies offering podcasts are adding audio-chat functionalities for deeper user engagement. The rise of Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces have both proven definitively that the 2020s will probably be a decade where audio will reign supreme. This could be a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting isolation. However, while audio may be the next big thing in the field of technology, it does not necessarily mean that it will just be audio and nothing else.

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