Minimalist blogging platform Medium is expanding into audio. Readers who have a $5 per month subscription can now listen to stories published by fellow members, as well as those hand-picked by Medium staff. As TechCrunch notes, more than 50 stories have an audio version at launch, and more will be added over time. It's a small number, however each one has been recorded by a professional voice artist, rather than a robotic text-to-speech service. You'll find them at the top of articles, both on the web and in Medium's mobile apps, with some basic playback controls.
Audio stories join exclusive articles, ad-free reading and offline access as Medium membership perks. It's an unusual offering because you're supporting a platform and many different writers and publishers, rather than a single entity like The New York Times. Back in January, Medium chief executive Ev Williams called ad-driven media a "broken system" that "doesn't serve people." The comments were made in a post confirming 50 job cuts and a move away from its own ad products. Its future now depends on subscribers, however earning them will be no simple task.