What Happened to the Clubhouse App?

James Logie

Photo by Dmitry Mashkin on Unsplash

Not long ago, there was a time when it seemed like you were a fool if you weren’t on Clubhouse.

The concept was pretty intriguing: a social audio app. It was like a chat room, podcast, and social media all at once.

Clubhouse was thrown in our faces so much that you probably felt like you had to be on it. But there was also a feeling like this may not last.

So how did this thing seemingly come out of nowhere, then fall off just as quickly?

When Did Clubhouse Come on the Scene?

You’ll have to go all the way back to the year 2019. It feels like a lifetime ago, but it was developed in the fall of that year. 

The core idea of Clubhouse seemed based around podcasting. It was also called “Talkshow” at first before they rebranded it to Clubhouse.

Clubhouse officially came out in March 2020, just in time for a little event that was shutting down the world…

The timing was pretty extraordinary, and this may have helped with its early success. Since everyone was stuck at home, people were more open to trying it.

Using Zoom had got old pretty quick, and Clubhouse was an intriguing new platform. Even before the pandemic, Clubhouse started with 600,000 users and it was said that 2 million people used the platform weekly.

The big appeal was the use of “rooms.” This allowed users to connect with each other via audio. There were also decent levels of control and invites were needed to join specific rooms.

Quick Success

As mentioned, podcasters naturally gravitated to Clubhouse. It seemed like a good way to connect with listeners and other podcasters. it also seemed like a great way to promote your show. That was my primary interest in it.

Everyone seemed to use it — but there were a few issues. As usual, questions over privacy came up. How safe was it to use Clubhouse? Was all your audio being reviewed? Who was the app attracting? How much of my data is needed?

But there were some other interesting features. One of them was specific conversational topics that you could join. This seemed like a great way to learn and connect.

Another feature was “clips.” This is where you could take 30-second snippets of audio to post elsewhere. This could help grow your audience.

One appealing thing was since it was audio, you just had to listen in. You didn’t have to worry about being on video and the audio-only format made it more accessible.

One other significant development was “Music Mode.” This was for musicians and allowed for them to potentially jam with other musicians and even put on concerts. 

Some people thought it was like Zoom, but a zoom meeting generally isn't open to the public. Either way, it felt like you were a fool for not jumping on board with Clubhouse.

So, What Happened?

When was the last time you heard anyone mention Clubhouse? For a while, it seemed like it was all you heard about. Every social media post I saw was singing its praises, and I don’t think there was a single podcaster I know who wasn’t using it.

It also appealed to celebrities who still wanted an audience — and a way to connect to them — during a pandemic-driven lockdown.

But, like most other social media platforms, some ugly users got on the platform. There were issues with things like hate speech. 

This obviously isn’t limited to Clubhouse, because the scum of the earth will always find the latest social media platform and find a way to make it worse.

There was also the issue of exclusivity. Like the early days of Facebook, not everyone could get on the platform — and this is often the appeal of these things; “If they don’t want me, I really want to get on it.”

Eventually, Clubhouse went from invite-only to open to everyone. 

I think a big problem was that once things opened up more, people wanted to get back to real-life interactions as much as possible. Just in the same way that you may never want to see a Zoom screen again, people wanted to get off the Clubhouse platform.

The company went from being worth $4 billion and the talk of the town to dropping to #60 in the app store.

It was now ranking behind other platforms you’ve probably never heard of.

There was also more competition. The other big companies saw the promise and potential of Clubhouse and created their version of it. Everyone from Twitter to Instagram, Spotify, and Reddit had something similar. 

Final Thoughts

It's amazing how quickly Clubhouse faded away. It’s not that it's gone, it’s that it just stopped trending. I feel as if things like this tend to taper out, but the disappearance of Clubhouse felt so abrupt.

Again, it’s not gone, it just had the bizarre timing of being released during a global pandemic

New platforms are tough. You have to decide whether to jump on board with something that may not last, or risk missing the boat. You may find that when you’re on too many platforms at once, you spread yourself too thin.

You can’t be effective on all of them and it seems like a better move to only focus on a few.

It’s interesting to wonder what the response would have been if Clubhouse had come out a year or two before — or a year or two after.

This may have helped it develop a more gradual and sustained following. Clubhouse had the benefit of hyper-attention as it was being shared like wildfire while we were all stuck at home. 

This was great for early exposure but possibly damaged them in the long run. But, again, it hasn’t gone away. There's no doubt the company will learn how to pivot its platform and adapt it for continued use down the road. 

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Personal trainer, podcaster, Amazon best-selling author. Writing about some health, a little marketing, and a whole lot of 1980s.


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