Anyone who has sat through an interminable panel discussion on a random topic and thought to themselves, “I wish this would never end,” will find a lot to like on Clubhouse. But due to the closed beta nature of the audio-focused social network, most people will have to make do with reading trend pieces about how much “buzz” the app is creating. Now, long before the app has gained any popular influence, it’s reportedly launching an influencer program. Manage your career plans accordingly.
If you’ve been left out of the buzz, Clubhouse is an iOS app that consists of a bunch of audio-only chatrooms where users can either participate in the discussion or just listen in. The organizers of each chatroom can decide who is allowed to speak, and if you’re unsatisfied with the selection of chatrooms, you can start your own and rule as a tyrant. That’s it, it’s pretty simple.
Lots of companies are trying out audio features, like Twitter and LinkedIn, but Clubhouse is all-in on audio specialization and has built publicity on a wave of boosterism from Silicon Valley tech bros who feel they finally have a space for intelligent “debate” and the subsequent controversies that followed the tech bros unencumbered conversations. Now, the New York Times reports that Clubhouse is launching its own influencer network to compete with the likes of YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Yes, it’s a little out of the ordinary for a social media network to make such a move before it’s even out of beta, but the Times frames Clubhouse’s effort as a sign that developers and investors are increasingly recognizing influencer networks as a core component of any platform. From the piece:
“I feel like something has palpably shifted in the past year among investors, and it seems like everyone is talking about the creator economy now and investing in creator tools,” said Li Jin, founder of Atelier, a V.C. firm investing in the influencer economy.
That’s a V.C. investor who is investing in the influencer economy saying that the influencer economy has had a hell of an influence this year, and who can argue?
According to the Times, Clubhouse’s “Creator Pilot Program” has “more than 40” members so far. This elite group has been pulled from the platform’s 600,000 registered users. One creator, Catherine Connors, former head of content at Disney Interactive, hosts two talk shows on Clubhouse. Connors told the Times that “what an interesting personality looks like on Clubhouse is different than what it looks like on other platforms.” Interesting.
One key difference between influencers on other platforms and Clubhouse influencers is that no one in the latter category is getting paid. “Ticketing, tips, and subscriptions” have all been considered as possible revenue streams, though.
I think Clubhouse has potential, and don’t hate the concept, but my time with it has been considerably uninspired. At the moment, the top chatrooms recommended for me are “How to grow your Clubhouse following” and “Entrepreneurship 101 - Get Your FEELINGS Out of Your Business.” That’s not to say nothing interesting ever happens. There was that time that a conversation held on Yom Kippur and attended by Clubhouse backers Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz descended into anti-Semitic chaos. And at least one person identified by the Times as part of the Creator Pilot Program, Rhian Beutler, tweeted this week that she’s ending her popular Clubhouse trivia show due to the platform’s lack of action in addressing “anti-[S]emitism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, racism.” Beutler tweeted that her plan is to take the show to Space, another audio-only chat app that’s gaining influence.