The height of elitism is taking place virtually, and unless you're invited, the digital age yacht club doesn't want to know you. If exclusive dating app Raya and Houseparty had a baby, Clubhouse would be their child. In an age where half of the world is still on lockdown with short-lived apps rising and falling, its a surprise to learn that Clubhouse might be rising above the noise, but with Elon Musk, Oprah and Drake as members, how could people not take notice? With this in mind, we ask: what is the invite only app that everyone seems to be talking about? We're covering the basics, below.
What is Clubhouse?
At its simplest, Clubhouse is an audio-based social media app. Self-described as "a new type of social product based on voice that allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world." Basically, a cocktail party virtualised and as such, you need an invite to be part of the conversation. On Clubhouse, you are able to jump in and out of different chats which are hosted on a myriad of subjects. Almost like a live podcast, but completely unrehearsed. In these chats, you can simply tune in to listen, or get amongst the conversation. The conversations are live and unrecorded, unlike Twitch, the live audio-chats had in conversation rooms disappear. Of course, while recordings of these conversations are not permitted as an in-app function, people will always use loop-holes to save conversations of note.
How do you get in?
Thus far, Clubhouse is strictly an invite-only app, meaning it can't be accessed unless a member of Clubhouse invites you to join. In this case, you’ll see a link texted to your phone number, directing you to a sign-up page in the app. The catch, and potentially the reason Clubhouse has maintained its exclusive vibe is that users can’t just send an invite to anyone who wants to join. Existing users are only granted two invites to pass along, with the potential to 'earn' more if they use the app frequently. The Clubhouse app is apparently still in it's Beta phase which, when completed, the Clubhouse creators hope to “open up Clubhouse to the whole world”.
Why is it so popular?
As far as popularity goes, we're assuming part of the allure is the elitist model of the app, paired with the fact that actual celebrities are not only members, but have been known to host conversations on certain topics before. This of course is part of the reason so many people are jumping aboard for curiosities sake. In China, however, it was about more than celebrity sightings. According to The Guardian, "Clubhouse managed to fly under the radar of China’s firewall for several months, unlike other social media networks Instagram and Facebook. It became very popular in recent weeks, attracting large numbers of Chinese users and giving them a rare chance to “binge free expression”, and engage in discussion on topics that are usually blocked on the mainland, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan."
Since launch, the app’s value skyrocketed from $100 million in December 2020 to $1 billion in January 2021. Showing that Clubhouse is seemingly doing what Houseparty could not, and is on the right track to become a key player in the social media game.