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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Sound on: you can now listen to Medium stories

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At Medium, we’re always thinking of ways to make it easy for you to dive deep into great stories, ideas, and perspectives. That’s why we’re excited to share that audio on Medium is now available to all users on the Medium website with the launch of our new Listen feature. You can click the new “Listen” button at the top of most stories to hear an audio version read aloud. Go ahead, try it out above!

Since we gave early access to a group of Medium readers in January, they’ve shared that audio has helped them enjoy more stories than ever before, up to three times more. They often listen to stories at times of the day when they wouldn’t normally be able to read: while walking, exercising, commuting to work, taking care of household chores, and even working on other tasks on their computer.

“When I worked out, I used to read on my phone between sets. Now it’s so much easier with audio: I can listen to a lot more articles than I could read before.” — Jess, average listener

Based on the benefits we’ve seen so far, we believe audio can make your Medium experience more versatile and enjoyable.

An easier way to enjoy more stories

If you’re an avid reader, you probably have a long list of stories that you’ve saved for later. You can now use the Listen feature to loop through that list whenever you want. I personally like to catch up on Medium stories during my morning runs.

A useful revision tool for writers

With the Listen feature, you can listen to your drafts. We’ve heard from writers that it can be very helpful to hear someone else read their writing before publishing it, even if that someone is a robot!

Improved accessibility

People with reading difficulties, such as visual impairment or dyslexia, report that having the ability to listen greatly improves their experience on Medium.

The Listen button is currently at the top of the story page. When you press this button, a charming synthesized voice reads the text of the story.

If you want to change the default voice, you can choose from other options by clicking the voice button in the lower left corner. We will add additional voices for you to choose from in the future.

In the lower right corner, you can click the speed button to adjust the playback speed from 0.5x to 4.5x.

We’re excited to see people enjoying the audio on Medium so far. Given the results, we are now exploring how we can better integrate audio into our mobile apps, expand language capabilities, and provide more voice options.

Now that the audio on Medium is live, we’d love to hear what you think. How can we improve listening on Medium in the future?

Is the player available in the mobile apps?
No, listening is currently only available on the Medium website. However, we are exploring the opportunity to bring audio to our mobile apps.

Why don’t I see the “Listen” button on a story?
The feature currently only supports English text, so the “Listen” button may not appear if the post is not written in English.

Can I change the narrator’s voice and speed?
Yes. After you hit play, you can choose from eight different options through the player that appears in the bottom right corner of the story page. Playback speed can also be adjusted within the player itself.

Is this a permanent feature?
We do not know it yet. We continue to collect data and feedback to see how readers and writers respond.

I thought Medium is for text only. Why add audio?
We know that there are times when we cannot sit down to read, but we are open to learning something new. We hope that having the ability to listen on Medium will help more people enjoy great writing during those times. Audio also increases accessibility for those who prefer listening to reading. To learn more about our move into audio, check out Ev’s 3MR here.

Does Medium offer audio options that are not related to text-to-speech?
Medium recently acquired Knowable, an audio-based learning app. Knowable features lessons from hundreds of leading experts in the field on topics ranging from career development to personal wellness. Featured contributors include NBA All-Star Chris Paul, record-breaking astronaut Scott Kelly, and TED keynote speaker Celeste Headlee, as well as notable organizations like MIT and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. You can check Knowable here.

How will this feature affect my earnings?
We will consider listening time in pay calculations for eligible writers with metered stories. Eligible writers whose posts have been heard by Medium members will see a positive adjustment to their earnings after the end of the month. The tweak will appear as a one-time participation bonus in the creator panel.

Can I narrate my own stories?
Not currently. This feature has been requested by many writers and is one we are actively exploring, along with a larger and more diverse list of automated voice options.

Can non-members hear my measured stories?
The same paywall rules apply for both listening and reading. Only members will be able to listen to stories behind the paywall.

Can I disable this feature in my stories?
Not currently. We believe that text-to-speech will help more people gain access to great writing on Medium.

Will I be able to see how many people listened to my stories or who listened to them?
Not yet, but if this feature becomes permanent, we’ll work to update your dashboard accordingly.

Previously published onMedium

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