A new voice-based social media app called Clubhouse has taken over the digital world. With this app, users can “listen in” on conversations conducted inside listening rooms. Clubhouse is entirely audio-based, which makes for great conversations and meaningful discussions. Occasionally, A-listers grace the platform, which helps to draw attention towards certain issues. So if you’ve been wondering what Clubhouse is, then you have come to the right place. This article will take a closer look at the dynamic voice chat app and the features that make it shine.
What Is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is an audio-based, invite-only social media app developed to encourage real-time conversation and discussion among people from all over the world. It offers a space where people can meet new people and share ideas using their voices. There aren’t really any modes for text-based chat, and you can’t upload photos and videos either. The app functions more like a hybrid between a podcast channel and a social media app with these considerations in mind.
When users enter the app, they will find a directory of audio rooms called “listening rooms.” Each room has its own topic and works a lot like a conference breakout room. Examples of topics include technology, artificial intelligence, cooking, pop music, and more. The person who created the listening room gets to decide who speaks. Interested users can raise their hand to take a turn in the discussion, while others can simply listen in. Having said this, the experience should be reminiscent of listening to a podcast or to an open forum.
How Did Clubhouse Come to Be?
Clubhouse is the brainchild of two serial entrepreneurs, Rohan Seth and Paul Davison. The pair referred to the project as their last attempt at creating a social media app. In fact, both Davidson and Seth had spent a considerable amount of time working on social media apps.
Case in point, Davidson had an earlier project called Highlight. This app keeps track of the users’ location in real time while giving recommendations based on the profiles of people who are nearby. On the other hand, Seth had his own social media project called Dayfie. This app helped users to create a time-lapse video out of pictures taken of them daily. Both projects were very promising at first and received some media attention but eventually faded into obscurity.
The duo would release the first version of Clubhouse for iOS devices in April 2020. By January 2021, the company would have a user base of 2 million with a value of $1 billion. As of May 2021, Clubhouse has a user base of just over 10 million with a company value of $ 4 billion.
What Makes Clubhouse So Popular?
Clubhouse is astoundingly popular at the moment, and there are a few explanations as to why this is the case. It may have something to do with the timing of the app’s release. The app was first released around April 2020, which was the peak period for the pandemic. In many ways, the timing of Clubhouse’s release couldn’t have been better.
Another reason relates to the free PR provided by A-listers who occasionally drop by the app. Some of the more notable celebrities include tech billionaires Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. You also have TV celebrities like Kevin O’Leary and Oprah Winfrey drop by. While these celebrities were not paid or requested to promote the app, a simple Tweet or blog post about their appearance seems enough to get people interested.
It may also have something to do with the way the platform was designed. It’s one of the few apps out there to be focused on audio-based communication. Most social media apps have overused the text-based medium, which makes for a very bland and impersonal exchange of ideas. The medium is simply inadequate for capturing emotion and makes spontaneity nearly impossible. Most of the time, people are also forced to reply to messages just to be polite. But with Clubhouse, users can express themselves fully and spontaneously. It’s also possible for them to just listen in and not say anything.
What Makes Clubhouse Different from Other Social Media Apps?
The creators of Clubhouse have described it as a “very special medium” and that is true to a large extent. But what is Clubhouse truly all about?
The first key distinction relates to Clubhouse having an audio-based format. There are no cameras and video feeds in Clubhouse, only the profile pictures of the users. This makes it far more personal than text-based social media apps. It’s also a great way to get people to focus on ideas while doing away with distractions.
In addition, Clubhouse also promises to be safer than the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Users aren’t sharing unnecessary information about themselves, and are not able to post pictures and videos. As such, there is little for scammers and cybercriminals to use.
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The second distinction relates to the app’s exclusivity. As is known, the only way you can join the app is if someone from the inside sends you an invite. In other words, you cannot simply sign up for the service or muscle your way into membership. While this entire concept scream snobbery, the company claims it was simply more practical to start off small before scaling up. The company has just recently released an Android version of Clubhouse, but unfortunately, this version has not been modified to accept users directly.
How Do Clubhouse Users Get Invited In?
So how does an individual get into the program in the first place? The first way is, of course, to have someone else invite you to the app. Perhaps you have a family member or friend whom you can ask to add you. The other person just needs to have your phone number on their iOS phone, and when they select you as a contact, you will receive a link via SMS text. The text will tell you to go to joinclubhouse.com/app. Here, you will have to enter your phone number plus a code that will be provided in the text.
Another way to get in is by taking advantage of the “wave” feature of the app. In reality, you can download the app and register with it without needing an invite. But you still need an invite or a “wave” before you can get into any of the listening rooms. Either way, you have to download the app and register yourself first while waiting for someone to send you an invitation. After you’ve registered, the app should send a notification to your contacts that you have just registered. In this case, they should be able to “wave” you in without expending their limited invites. Just keep in mind that your friends need to have you on their iPhone contacts list for this to work.
Future Public Version
Another way to get into Clubhouse (in theory) will be if the app releases a public version. This version will allow users to join the app on their own accord, much like with Facebook or Spotify. However, Clubhouse has yet to release a version of its app that is completely public. So, the rest of us will have to wait.
How Does the Registration Process Work?
As was mentioned, you can already register yourself to the app before getting an invite. But remember, you will only be able to get in if and when someone waves at you or sends you an invite via SMS.
Creating a Username
The app will ask for basic details such as your real name, phone number, and email during the registration proper. For the sake of transparency, you ought to give your real name. You will also need to pick a username that will help identify you in the listening rooms. The username that you use need not reflect your real name, but of course, you are free to use your real name if you want. It’s also possible to change your username at any point after the registration.
After you get an invite, the app will ask you to log in using your username and password. It will then push you to link your contacts to help you find people to follow. The more famous people you have on your contacts list, the better. Besides adding contacts, you will also need to verify your email address. This part is important since they will use your email to contact you in case something happens to your account. Once that’s done, you can already explore the app and all the rooms available.
Alternative: Linking Social Media
If you don’t want to register your account from scratch, that much is possible. You simply need to link your existing Twitter account to Clubhouse. It will copy your username, real name, and even your profile picture onto your Clubhouse account.
When Can We Expect to See the Android Version for Clubhouse?
After being exclusive to iOS devices for more than a year, Clubhouse is finally coming to Android. The beta version is compatible with most Android phones, and it was released in the US in May 2021. The company plans to gradually release the beta version to the rest of the world in the coming months. Non-US residents can sign up for a notification for when the Android version is available for download in their area. They just have to pre-register through the official page on Google Play Store.
While the release of the Android app is something that users have anticipated, there’s a catch to it. That is, the app still functions on an invite-only basis. The company explained that it wants to reduce the risk of a system overload to a sudden upsurge in users. They explained that the sudden surge in the number of users had taken a toll on company servers and systems. This, in turn, resulted in server outages and notification failures. In other words, they have very practical reasons for wanting to start with a small user base once again. Now Android users will have to find a way to have someone else invite them or wait for the app to be completely public.
On a more positive note, Clubhouse plans to up the ante with a variety of audio shows. They announced a total of 50 audio programs in all, to be released within the next few months or years. Each creator will be receiving a stipend of $5,000 for the first three months, plus full creative support. The titles, themes, and hosts for the audio shows are still under wraps.
Disclaimer: These download links are by no means an invitation from the app.
Does Clubhouse Have Any Competitors?
Clubhouse’s meteoric leap from 2 million to 10 million users in half a year is impressive. Naturally, social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are more than a little alarmed. Having said that, there are a variety of Clubhouse-like apps already available, and there are a lot more underway. Twitter was one of the first to respond with its Spaces feature. This feature allows users to communicate via audio call on the app.
Even Facebook wants in on the competition. But right now, it seems that they are still working very seriously on that competitor app. In the meantime, users can turn to Instagram Live. They’ve made modifications to their Live Room feature. It used to be the case that you could only converse with one person on a live stream to make a two-way conversation. But now, you can have three people in the live stream, and this is complete with audio and video.
Other lesser-known social media apps have taken inspiration from Clubhouse. There’s Riffr, a social media app that lets you post voice notes for your followers to hear. Unlike Clubhouse, Riffr has a recording function. However, it sets a limit of three minutes for each voice note. Spoon is another alternative with more features. It lets you record voice notes and podcasts, which you can sell on the platform. There’s also Leher, which allows you to drop into listening rooms with video coverage.
Final Thoughts on Clubhouse
Now that we’ve demystified the app a little bit, there’s not much left to the imagination. It’s really simple to register into the app, and you only need to persuade one friend or colleague to let you in. But while Clubhouse was marketing the app as a social media platform, it is so much more. It was meant to make people think about new ideas and to help them share these ideas with a larger community. The verbal mode of communication allows for a great speaker/listener dynamic.
It offers up a place where people can simply listen and learn while others talk. In addition, it allows for spontaneous self-expression and adds personality to conversations. At the end of the day, Clubhouse has become less of a social media app and more of a tool for change and innovation.
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