Sound on: Now you can listen to Medium stories

Alex Benzer
The Medium Blog
Published in
5 min readMar 15, 2022

At Medium, we’re always thinking about ways to make it easier for you to dive deep into great stories, ideas, and perspectives. That’s why we’re thrilled 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 above!

Since we gave early access to a group of Medium readers in January, they’ve shared that audio has helped them to enjoy more stories than ever before — up to three times as many. They’re often listening to stories at times throughout their day when they normally wouldn’t be able to read: while going on walks, exercising, commuting, taking care of housework, and even working on other tasks at their computer.

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

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

An easier way to enjoy more stories

If you’re an avid reader, you likely have a long list of stories you’ve saved for later. You can now use the Listen feature to make your way through that list at your leisure. I personally like catching up on Medium stories during my morning runs.

A useful proofreading tool for writers

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

Improved accessibility

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

How to listen

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

If you’d like to change the default voice, you can choose from other options by clicking the voice button in the bottom left corner. We’ll be adding additional voices for you to choose from in the future.

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

More listening ahead

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

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

Listener FAQ

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 pressing play, you can choose from eight different options via the player that appears in the lower right corner of the story page. The playback speed can also be adjusted within the same player.

Is this a permanent feature?
We don’t yet know. We’re continuing to gather data and feedback to see how readers and writers respond.

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

Does Medium offer audio options that aren’t related to text-to-speech?
Medium recently acquired Knowable, an audio-first learning app. Knowable features lessons from hundreds of field-leading experts on subjects ranging from professional development to personal well-being. Featured contributors include NBA All-Star Chris Paul, record-holding astronaut Scott Kelly, and top TED speaker Celeste Headlee, as well as notable organizations such as MIT and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. You can check out Knowable here.

Writer FAQ

How will this feature affect my earnings?
We’ll factor listen time into the payout calculations for eligible writers with metered stories.

Can I narrate my own stories?
Not currently. Many writers have requested this feature and it’s one that we are actively exploring, along with a more expansive and diverse list of automated voice options.

Can non-members listen to my metered stories?
The same paywall rules apply to listening as to reading. Only members will be able to listen to stories that are behind the paywall.

Can I disable this feature on 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?
Not yet, but if this feature becomes permanent, then we’ll work to update your dashboard accordingly.