Medium does a lot of things well. Its easy-to-use interface for composing blog posts creates a clean, distraction-free environment for the reader. But one thing it doesn’t do well is audio. Music, radio shows, and podcasts aren’t a featured part of the product.
London-based developer Roman Mittermayr put together MediumSounds so he could mash together what he liked about the Medium design with the musical content he posts to SoundCloud. His creation adds a missing element to what Medium offers – a way for sound to be a main feature, not just an embedded part of the post.
Sound can be a formidable psychological tool used in storytelling. Movies, radio, and podcasts leverage it to strike emotion in the listener. Featuring sound could add a dynamic element to the online writing platform.
MediumSounds creates each post by pulling in a Wordpress embed code of the file you want to use on Soundcloud and pairs it with the link to your Medium post. The post gets a unique URL that can be shared to Twitter and Facebook. It’s an awkward workaround and Mittermayr admits this is in the experimental phase.
But MediumSounds opens up quite a few possibilities for audiophiles. “In the future, I could see a connection of the reader’s scroll-position to certain segments/cue points in the music,” Mittermayr explained to me over email. “Imagine a kid reading a fairy tale on Medium (not necessarily a popular thing yet, but who knows), and the music and sounds change as you go deeper into the story.”
Mittermayr tells me the idea hit him yesterday. “Writing on Medium is such a beautiful experience,” he wrote. “I love the typesetting, the layout constraints. Everything is clean, smart, and super minimal. Like many, I write best with music playing in the background. It’s scary to see how much music actually influences my writing style (think: Slipknot vs. Tycho). So I figured, it would be interesting to transport this influential aspect of the music to the reader. To convey not just the text, but the whole experience.”
Podcasters and radio folks could use this to add behind the scenes content to certain shows. I made my own mashup from an old radio interview I did with Biz Stone explaining Twitter back in 2006. I kept the story on SoundCloud for a number of years, but MediumSounds gave me the opportunity to talk about the piece while people listen in.
Mittermayr’s own experience also shows how MediumSounds could be used by unknown musicians to find new listeners. He has a mere 42 people following him on SoundCloud, but adding his song Bright Night to his first MediumSounds post helped it climb from under 100 to over 1000 listeners in one day.
But is MediumSounds something Medium users even want? You can already add SoundCloud files, YouTube videos, Vines, and other content to Medium posts — you just can’t feature them. The author must embed the content and it won’t autoplay when you pull up the post.
Moreover, if people come to Medium for minimalist design and its distraction-free reading style, featuring sound fundamentally changes the user experience — and some might say not in a good way.
Is featuring audio something Medium would be interested in? A Medium spokesperson told me he wasn’t sure if this is something the company would do. “We’re always experimenting with stuff, so anything is possible,” the spokesperson told me.
There are at least some audiophiles out there (myself included) who like the idea.