Clubhouse, an iOS-only social audio app, is creating the right noises online, almost literally. Created by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth and launched in March 2020, the app has become quite popular in a short time, even though it is still in beta. According to a report in The Information, Clubhouse could have a valuation of $1 billion at its next round of funding.
But what is Clubhouse, and how does one join the platform? What exactly does one do there? We answer some questions.
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a social audio app, which is invite-only right now and available for iPhone users. Once you manage to get in, you can join ‘Rooms’ where you will find different discussions taking place around various topics ranging from Podcasts vs News, on digital marketing, on start-ups in India, whether Ethereum will surpass Bitcoin to the recent farmer protests in India.
In these ‘Rooms’ there is a live discussion taking place in an audio mode only. You can see the names of the moderators hosting these rooms and once you join, you can also see the other participants. According to Clubhouse’s own description, these are all casual ‘audio’ chats. Think of it as actually being able to join a podcast, where you can raise your hand and ask a question. The idea here is to listen in to these conversations or join in the debate.
And if you don’t find a discussion worth your time, you can quietly leave the room. Or you want to contribute to a discussion, you can just raise your hand and hope the moderators will take your questions. Sometimes the speakers might even invite you to participate as a speaker to a talk.
At the time of setting up, Clubhouse does ask you about your interests and there is a whole range of topics to pick and choose from; be it tech to gender identity to music to books, to cities.
What are some of the key features of the app?
Once you login to the app, you will see the main home screen which is also called the feed or hallway or the lobby. Out here you will see all the rooms, which are live where a discussion is taking place based on the interests you have picked and the people you follow.
You can link your Twitter and Instagram account to the Clubhouse account as well and some people you follow there might be on the app as well. There’s also an Explore button at the bottom of this feed you can tap on and see other discussions which are taking place and join the ‘Room’.
When you join the app, Clubhouse also gives you two invites that you can then send to contacts and invite them to join the app. The invites can be seen in the ‘envelope’ icon on top of the feed. The upcoming calendar icon shows discussions, which are coming up based on any clubs you might have joined on the app. Clubs are like groups on the platform, and you can join these if you get invited to some and find common interest with what the club usually discusses.
You can also tap on the bell icon to see all the notifications around Clubhouse such as your friends or contacts who have joined, any new followers you would have gained, messages from Clubhouse support, etc.
How do I start my own ‘Room’?
There’s a prominent ‘Start a room’ button in the main feed, which you can tap on to start your own room and discussion. Your room can be open which is open to anyone, or social, which is open to only people you follow or closed, which is limited to the people you choose. But the fun of Clubhouse is to keep rooms open so anyone can join a discussion.
How do I find new people on Clubhouse?
There are many ways of finding people to follow on Clubhouse. One easy way is to link your Twitter account at the time of onboarding and you will see quite a few contacts are already there. You can then follow them immediately.
You can also tap on the person+ icon at the bottom to search for or browse other users in the app. One can also join clubs to meet others users with shared interests. You can tap on the Search symbol, shaped like a magnifying glass and search for new users to follow. You can visit any user’s profile, and will see a star button next to the follow button. Clubhouse recommends you tap on it to see users that may be similar.
Another way to find people is inside rooms. You can join in the discussions and tap on participant profiles and follow them as well.
I have an Android phone. Can I use Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is right now limited to iOS only. But it looks like the official Android app is coming soon. In a new blog post, the co-founders wrote that they plan to begin work on the Android app soon. They also wrote that they will “add more accessibility and localisation features so that people all over the world can experience Clubhouse in a way that feels native to them.”
How many people are using Clubhouse?
The founders revealed in the blogpost dated January 24, that around two million people used Clubhouse “this past week”.
The post notes, “in one of the most turbulent and troubled years many of us have experienced, people on Clubhouse have come together for important and nuanced conversations on topics of social justice reform, BLM and anti-racism. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, room after room filled the hallways with people discussing constitutional law, sharing stories about RBG’s childhood, and praying in silence together. Each week, parents of children with genetic diseases gather in Clubhouse to discuss medical developments with doctors, researchers and other parents—talking, debating and learning.”
What next for Clubhouse?
As more and more users sign up, one challenge has been keeping the servers up. Clubhouse founders have said that they’ve “grown faster than expected over the past few months,” which has resulted in many people seeing “red error messages when our servers are struggling.” The company plans to use its new funding round to the “technology and infrastructure to scale the Clubhouse experience for everyone, so that it’s always fast and performant, regardless of how many people are joining.”
Clubhouse will also scale up its “Trust & Safety and Support” as it grows to ensure that it remains a safe space for users. It also plans to “invest in advanced tools to detect and prevent abuse,” and will increase “the features and training resources available to moderators.”
It also plans to invest “heavily in discovery” so that it can show people “clubs, and rooms that are perfectly tailored” to their interests. The blogpost also said, “We plan to launch our first tests to allow creators to get paid directly — through features like tipping, tickets or subscriptions. We will also be using a portion of the new funding round to roll out a Creator Grant Program to support emerging Clubhouse creators.”