Edit the transcript, which cuts the audio
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Soundtrap, a music-editing software company owned by Spotify, is launching a new product today that’s specifically designed to make podcast editing easier. The new product, called Soundtrap for Storytellers, is a full, web-based podcast production tool that allows users to record, edit, and master their audio. Its most impressive feature is how simple it’s supposed to make editing: podcasters can just cut words out of an automated transcript of their conversation, and the changes will be automatically reflected in the audio.
The feature is designed to function like Google Docs, says Soundtrap CEO Per Emanuelsson. It’s even collaborative, letting multiple people edit a project at once. “It’s a full production environment,” Emanuelsson says. “With everything you need directly in the tool.” The app seems to be directly aimed at encouraging new and amateur podcasters to make shows, while also boosting Spotify’s podcast catalog.
Soundtrap for Storytellers has multiple nifty features. Podcasters can host video interviews in the web app, record them, add free loops and sound effects provided by Soundtrap, and complete the final step of passing the show through Soundtrap’s “mastering chain,” which the company says normalizes audio levels and makes everything sound okay. Of course, at the end of the whole process, Soundtrap offers users easy publishing directly to Spotify by checking a box.
Users can also submit their transcript to Spotify, which Emanuelsson says is used to “improve discoverability.” He also says it’ll help with SEO, and given Google’s recent announcement that it’ll start surfacing podcasts in search results, the transcripts could give shows a boost if Google continues to assist in podcast discovery. It also could help Spotify with its own discovery work — you probably want to know what a show talks about before recommending it — but Emanuelsson only says there “might be further developments down the road.”
The program costs $14.99 a month, or it can be bundled with the company’s music editing software for $17.99 a month.
This product launch, coupled with Spotify’s acquisition of Anchor earlier this year, demonstrates the company’s interest in owning not only the platform on which people listen but also the tools they use to make their shows. The more access people have to easy-to-use software, the more likely they’ll be to make a show in the first place. By getting involved at the creation stage, Spotify may be better positioned to spot rising stars and offer them an exclusive deal.
Soundtrap’s tool does have some big limitations. For one, users can only have one remote guest in a recording session at a time, so group shows that involve multiple people talking simultaneously would have to record outside the app or separately. Users can’t monitor volume levels while they record, either, which would make any audio engineer anxious.
If multiple people want to supervise or edit at once, they’ll all need separate accounts or separate monthly subscriptions. There’s also a limited offline editing mode in which people can’t save their work. If users want to check the box to publish to Spotify, it’ll publish under their Soundtrap username, so the episodes can’t be added to a show that’s already on Spotify, at least through the automated tool. Instead, users will have to download their audio files and then upload them to their RSS feed host, which allows them to distribute the episode wherever they want. The software also seems mostly designed for talk shows that don’t require field reporting. Although users can import tracks into the software, the holistic experience seems to be the real sell.
Generally, however, having a full suite of tools in one place could save podcasters time. Shows currently conduct their interviews on third-party software, in-person, over the phone, or by sending someone to record a guest’s audio locally. Soundtrap at least provides a place to do the recording. Right now, podcasters also often purchase transcripts to keep track of the sound bites they’ve collected. Having it done automatically would be immensely helpful. We don’t know how well the transcription software works yet, but users can edit it within the app if they notice something’s off.
“We think that if there are users out there that would like to do stuff but they’re hindered because they don’t have the ability to do it, we think it’s almost our urge to help them,” Emanuelsson says.
Anchor, another Spotify-owned company, also offers simple podcast recording and editing tools meant for beginners. Emanuelsson says Soundtrap’s product is different in that Anchor is mobile-first. People can use Anchor to record on their phones and put something together quickly, whereas Soundtrap offers more advanced tools. Anchor also separately helps creators monetize, which Soundtrap doesn’t do.
Emanuelsson sees the two apps “fitting together,” where a podcaster might want to conduct a mobile interview on Anchor but then later switch to a remote interview they record in Soundtrap. Overall, Spotify’s clearly trying to make podcast creation a lot more accessible, and its Soundtrap and Anchor acquisitions accomplish just that goal.
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