Social-conversation app Clubhouse has gained more attention as its user base has grown rapidly and luminaries like billionaire Elon Musk have appeared in its invitation-only chats. As with any digital
platform, Clubhouse gives publishers an opportunity to engage audiences, expand incremental reach and sell sponsorships.
Clubhouse started a year ago as a provider of audio-only virtual
rooms and gained traction as the pandemic led people to spend more time on social media or group video calls. Its weekly users had grown steadily to 2 million by January before surging fivefold to 10
million the following month, CNBC reported.
Clubhouse had been available
only on Apple devices, and its user base is likely to expand more rapidly with addition of a version for Android, the mobile operating system that runs about 70% of the world's smartphones.
app probably would have grown faster if it didn't require people to invite others to use it. However, that limitation gives the startup more time to set up the infrastructure to host millions of live
chats at the same time.
The startup this week set up an "accelerator" program that provides monthly stipends, equipment and promotional services for independent creators to produce
more content for its platform. In announcing the Clubhouse Creator First program, it cited programming like "News News News," which covers daily headlines every day five minutes at a time, and "The
Lullaby Club," which provides "a sonic bubble bath" to help people relax and get to sleep.
For existing publishers, there is an opportunity to extend their audio production
capabilities from podcasts into live audio chats.
Unlike podcasts, which can be time-shifted for on-demand listening, Clubhouse is focused on providing the immediacy of a live production. The
format also allows for sponsorships, such as host-read spots, though the audience is likely to be much more limited until the platform expands. Still, it may be worthwhile to experiment with the
format, possibly as an extension of live programming by publishers whose in-person events have been impeded by the pandemic.