Clubhouse launched in April 2020 for creatives to network, however it only started really gaining media traction in January 2021. Touted as an exclusive platform, it is allegedly immune to the shadier areas of the internet and safe from the usual deluge of self-appointed influencers, attention-seekers and general low-rent content dribblers that seem to pollute any other platform within months of its launch.
The app, whose membership is not currently available to the general public, has traded off its exclusivity in its early days. The trial is invitation-only and has ‘conversations’ featuring the great and the good of celebstocracy and Silicon Valley, including Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey.
Naturally, something the general hoi polloi can’t get easily get involved in makes it instantly craveable. With a format that seems lifted straight from the ‘salons’ of old, the app features a series of rooms where participants can discuss hot topics around culture, politics and lifestyle.
How the app will fare if and when it starts to open its doors more widely is in question. There are already plenty of platforms where people can access celebrity podcasts, interact via Twitter or Instagram, jump into group chats and share ideas. Exclusivity holds a certain cachet but does a sound-based private members’ club have the profit-making potential of, say, a physical Soho House?
That said, sound is enjoying a renaissance as a marketing medium and Clubhouse has the potential to offer marketers targeted, quality media to attach their messaging to. However, given the rush to make the most of TikTok, Twitter, Facebook et al, again that cachet is under pressure if advertising dollars outweigh making content quality a priority.
There are naturally still teething problems. Give media-hungry consumers content they can’t access and they will try – by hook or, usually, by crook – to get hold of it regardless. The BBC reported that a user had already found a way to stream audio onto another site, despite assurances from Clubhouse that conversations in either public or private rooms could only be experienced live were never recorded. It will be interesting to see how Clubhouse fares against existing networks and the tendency for the market to see the relentless birth (and swift demise) of new platforms every day.
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