Audio, video and text chat platform Discord is bolstering its Stage channels feature for hosting audio-only events, the company announced on its sixth anniversary Thursday (May 13), first by adding a discovery page for those events and eventually by introducing ticketing.
On the free-to-use platform, Discord’s 150 million monthly active users create and join servers focused on one topic or community, where they chat within channels. But unlike with regular channels, users who join Stages are automatically muted and there are no entering or exiting sounds. Users can tap a button to ask to speak, after which the speakers designated as moderators can choose whether or not to grant that person speaker ability.
Stages launched in March. Now, Discord hopes to help users find events that interest them with the Stage Discovery page, launching globally to all users in June. At Discord’s first-ever press event earlier this week, Discord director of engineering Sumeet Vaidya told Billboard that his team is working on a ranking algorithm for the page: “There will be a whole bunch of features they take into account, whether it’s a server that you’re in, or some of your friends are listening to the stage.”
One caveat is that Stages are only available for servers which the creator designates as a “Community,” a category which has stricter safety and moderation requirements. When inside a Stage, users will see a “Join Community” tab on the top-left corner encouraging them to check out the server hosting the Stage, which they can do without leaving the event.
Next, Discord plans to introduce Stage ticketing. The feature is currently in private beta with a small testing set of communities, and the first ticketed events will go live this week. Hosts will be able to create and schedule events in advance and set their own ticket prices.
For now, events are capped at 1,000 users, but Vaidya says that this limit is “purely technical” and that he hopes to expand it to 10,000 users by the time the Stage Discovery page launches. He declined to specify when the feature will roll out wide to all users, nor how the company will split ticket revenue with hosts, which is still being decided. “This is an experiment, so we’ll be testing things out in the short term,” he added.
Stage Channels enter a rapidly-growing market for audio-only chat, a field currently led by invite-only app Clubhouse. Twitter launched its audio chat feature Spaces publicly earlier this month, with plans to introduce ticketing; Spotify acquired the parent of sports talk app Locker Room in March; and Facebook is said to be building a Clubhouse competitor as well.
Discord was originally geared towards gamers when it launched in 2015, but pandemic lockdowns helped double Discord’s user base and triple its revenue in 2020 compared to the year prior. Now, the company says 78% of active users either use Discord primarily for non-gaming purposes or a combination of gaming and other purposes, up from just 30% in late 2019, and there are more than 19 million active servers on the platform.
That expansion includes the music industry, where artists like BLACKPINK, Playboi Carti and Twenty One Pilots as well as record labels like Anjunabeats and Monstercat use Discord to build fan communities, host ask-me-anything events and share exclusive content. When Travis Scott launched his Cactus Jack server on April 27, nearly 100,000 users joined — a new record for a server launch day, according to Discord — and he has since held merchandise sweepstakes within the server and more.
Concurrent with today’s announcements, Discord is also debuting a tweaked logo and new “Imagine a Place” campaign, which encourages people with all kinds of interests to find belonging on Discord. It follows Discord’s first stab at a brand repositioning in June 2020, when the platform introduced a new and inclusive slogan, “Your place to talk.”
“All the amazing — and even strange — ways you’ve been using our service inspires us every day,” co-founders Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy write in a new blog post announcement. “Discord has become a place for study groups, karaoke nights, plant parenting advice, learning about cryptocurrencies, and simply a place to talk and hang out with your people whoever they are.”