I first heard of Clubhouse a few months ago, when a friend brought it up over FaceTime. He was raving about a new app that let him sit in on podcast-style discussions with a whole slew of different creatives, celebrities, and experts from a variety of industries. While the concept sounded interesting, I initially wasn’t all that eager to join. I spend most of my phone time on Instagram and TikTok, but I’ve never particularly been into podcasts. I’m more of a visual person. But my friend usually has his finger on the pulse of what’s going to come next, and he insisted this was going to be more addictive than Tiktok. Plus, he thought the access the app granted to connect with professionals in the fashion and music industry, was unmatched by other social platforms.
Here’s the one catch, Clubhouse isn’t available to all for download. You need to know someone who’s already a member to pass along a coveted invite. It’s a virtual grapevine—you need to know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone. If you don’t know anyone, you’re put on a waiting list to be notified once it’s out of the beta stage and becomes readily available to the masses. Fitting that an app with the word “club” in it is invite-only.
Clubhouse was launched in April 2020 by former Google engineer Rohan Seth and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davidson. While in the beta stage and only available for IOS users (sorry Androids), it’s already reached an evaluation of $1B and gotten the attention of some major industry players. With my golden ticket in the form of an iMessage invite from my friend, I embarked on my Clubhouse journey to see what it was really like. This is what I learned.
When I first joined the app, I was given two invite codes to send to friends. I didn’t realize how valuable an invite to Clubhouse could be, but an entrance in is so coveted that invites are being sold on Reddit and eBay for as much as $100 a piece. After sending out those two invite codes to colleagues, I was given six more invites as a reward for being active on the app. Part of the sign-up process also prompted me to sync my contacts and follow anyone I know that was already on Clubhouse. During a quick Google search, I read that the founders made the beta version invite-only to control how many users are on the app so that they’re not overwhelmed while going through the growing pains of a startup. But maybe the unexpected marketing benefit was that the exclusivity of the app made it one of the most sought-after tickets in virtual town. There’s so much buzz around securing an invite that it’s boosted the app’s notoriety and everyone who doesn’t have an invite—wants one that much more.
There were artists, celebrities, CEOs, and entertainers already on the app but with every log-on, I recognized more and more names by the likes of 21 Savage, Ashton Kutcher, Virgil Abloh, Kevin Hart, Meek Mill, Oprah Winfrey, and Elon Musk. That’s the great thing about Clubhouse—it grants you access to these noteworthy people from the comfort of your own home. 21 Savage is very active on Clubhouse and he’s often in a room titled “Slaughter Gang” that hosts a casual convo about life rather than the music industry. In one session that I dropped in, he did do a quick freestyle flexing his lyrical talent, which was one of the cooler experiences I encountered. Another juicy celebrity audio I heard was Deadmau5 detailing his experience taking acid and Larsa Pippen discussing her experience being stalked by paparazzi. Fascinating, unfiltered stuff.
And as the saying goes: what you hear on Clubhouse, stays on Clubhouse. Unlike Instagram live, which can be recorded and is available to everyone, the content on Clubhouse is exclusive.
Brains Over Beauty
The audio-based format of Clubhouse is refreshing and sort of genius because it forces the user to follow others based on their personality and ability to take part in engaging conversations rather than their physical appearance. I spend so much time scrolling through Instagram and TikTok looking at aesthetic-driven content, which we all know takes a toll on mental health and perpetuates unattainable beauty ideals. When I power down those apps, I often feel deflated rather than inspired or leaving with any true knowledge. On Clubhouse, the experience is different—I go from room to room to find inspiring conversations on personal branding, manifestation, influencer marketing and leave with great takeaways.
Because Clubhouse hosts a bevy of career-focused panels, you can tailor the app to get the knowledge you want by carefully selecting the people you follow and areas of interest. My personal interests were on branding, social media, fashion, music, and entertainment, but you can choose from things like tech, world affairs, knowledge, sports, arts, and so much more.
Once you’re in the rooms, that same sort of grapevine effect takes hold—you discover speakers that pique your interest, which lead to other discussions on topics you may have not been drawn to before and connect with like-minded people.
In true social media form, Clubhouse is an app that rewards you the more active you are. There are already “Clubhouse Influencers,” meaning non-celebrity users that spend hours per week moderating rooms. Their growing follower count is a reflection of the time they’ve invested in connecting with others on the app. If you are trying to build a Clubhouse following, it’s good to put yourself out there by asking questions in a room or moderating your own room.
Something to note is that the app is push-notification-heavy. It sends me more notifications than any other social media app on my phone. I’ve turned my Clubhouse notifications off altogether but the downside is that I’m not notified when speakers such as Elon Musk or Metro Boomin are in a room, and there’s a risk of missing out on those enlightening discussions.
It took me a few weeks to pick up on this but your homepage on Clubhouse—also called the hallway,—shows you the rooms that people you follow are currently in. There are some unusual rooms on Clubhouse such as the “Moaning Rooms” where a virtual moaning competition is held and the user with the best moan wins a cash prize. Exploring different rooms is part of the app but it’s good to be mindful that the rooms you’re in are visible to your followers. I have a lot of colleagues and personal friends that follow me on Clubhouse, so I tend to stay away from the unusual rooms and stick to rooms related to my professional interests. A good rule of thumb: don’t join a room you don’t want other people to see you in.
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