How Clubhouse has become one of the best ambassadors for digital audio
The vocal social network, Clubhouse, has created a growing interest in spoken conversation. Now emulated by the other major internet platforms, it has confirmed an appetite among internet users for digital audio. With its arrival on Android, what do we need to know?
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a social network available on mobile phones which is centred around audio conversation. Created by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, the app facilitates hosting of discussion panels. The difference to a traditional network is that instead of being presented with a content flow and statuses, the user can access voice chat rooms on-line on numerous subject matters (economics, technology, culture, sport, science, well-being).
Launched in spring 2020, the network operates on a referral basis. Considered closed at the outset, it is now easily accessible on registration (a few hours or days is sufficient). Each member receives several invitations to distribute. Its popularity exploded among internet users after the publication on Twitter of an invitation to join Elon Musk for an on-line audio discussion.
On 18 April, the social network announced a new round of Series C funding. Its valuation then reached 4 billion dollars. Objective: to be able to host more users, as well as strengthen infrastructure. Currently, it struggles to keep pace with registrations and exchanges. The app, until recently the preserve of iOS users (iPhone, iPad), is now also available on Android.
Today there are 2 million active weekly users on the app, but this number is increasing rapidly.
How can the success of Clubhouse be explained?
The interest surrounding Clubhouse and its rapid growth can be explained in two ways:
- On the one hand, the exclusive nature which it has boasted since the start. The invitation-only network promised to connect with inspiring speakers and personalities;
- On the other hand, the live audio format has until now been underexploited on all platforms, apart from instant messaging. The app facilitates both the creation and consumption of content, promoting a form of spontaneity that is found in off-line conversations or conferences.
Clubhouse already copied by everyone
Introduced by Clubhouse, the concept of Rooms (interactive audio chat rooms by invitation) has now been adopted by most of the major on-line platforms.
Who are Clubhouse’s competitors? There are lots of them already, and the list is growing each month:
- Hotline on Facebook
- Spaces on Twitter
- Voice Chats on Telegram
- Locker Room on Spotify
- Hallway meetings for Slack
- Stage Channels on Discourse.
And that’s not all: a project is also under way on the professional network, LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft.
This trend to copy innovations is nothing new: it has been seen in recent years with the Stories phenomenon, which is now a standard functionality on networking and messaging apps.
Why this is important for digital audio
Clubhouse is proof of:
- An increasingly keen interest among internet users for spoken conversation, which until now has been the preserve of messaging services;
- The inevitable transition of attention towards digital audio, as traditional FM radios are superseded by mobile devices and connected speakers.
Audio is indeed contextual by default. It offers brands a new engagement channel – interactive, participative and perfectly targeted. “Clubhouse was the precursor by delivering an inexpensive way to produce audio content“, explains Richard Yao very rightly (IPG Media Lab).
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