Why Clubhouse Alternatives Could Mean More Audio Choices

Welcome to the Clubhouses

Key Takeaways

  • Spotify is building a competitor to the popular, audio-only social app Clubhouse. 
  • The company will be able to leverage its vast existing library of music and podcasts to connect users. 
  • Clubhouse has skyrocketed in popularity, partly because its invite-only membership policy gives it a veneer of exclusivity.
A black and white sign that says "Clubhouse" on a yellow background with earbuds laying beside it.

Anna Martianova / Getty Images

The popular audio-only social network app, Clubhouse, is getting competition, which means users will have more places to chat. 

Spotify recently acquired the live audio app Locker Room, which is focused on sports.  Locker Room will be rebranded with a different name and pivot to a broader focus on music, culture, and sports content. 

"Spotify users will be able to access new content formats in the platform they already know, love, and use every day," Thibaud Clement, CEO of marketing software company Loomly, said in an email interview. 

"And then for those who still need a Clubhouse invite, this allows them to bypass that obstacle and experience the new avenue to explore the drop-in audio trend."

From Music to Live Audio

Spotify said it plans to expand Locker Room into an "enhanced live audio experience" for its creators and fans.

"Creators and fans have been asking for live formats on Spotify, and we’re excited that soon, we’ll make them available to hundreds of millions of listeners and millions of creators on our platform," Gustav Söderström, chief research and development officer at Spotify, said in a news release

"The world already turns to us for music, podcasts, and other unique audio experiences, and this new live audio experience is a powerful complement that will enhance and extend the on-demand experience we provide today," he added.

Spotify isn’t the only company shifting to audio. Twitter Spaces is the most high-profile example of trying to tap into social chatting experiences without video, University of Oregon journalism professor Damian Radcliffe said in an email interview.

"There’s been a raft of Clubhouse copycats in China, and closer to home, Facebook is also rumored to be developing its own service," he added. 

Narrative content is a natural fit for social interactions, pointed out David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices.com, a marketplace for voiceover actors, said in an email interview. "Think music and story time around the fire at summer camp to corporate trade shows that combine keynotes with musical performances," he added. 

Live audio will leverage Spotify’s ecosystem, user data, and recommendation/discovery tools to help connect users in its ecosystem with relevant live rooms, Eric Dahan, co-founder of the influencer network Open Influence, said in an email interview. 

"Additionally, Spotify can help podcasts leverage their existing audience and listener base to drive attendance and listenership for their live sessions," Dahan added.

"Consolidating the two will create massive synergies for podcasters (as well as artists), lowering attrition and increasing accessibility to new users. This could position Spotify as the default audio app for podcasters."

Popularity Contest Among Apps

"Clubhouse has skyrocketed in popularity, partly because its invite-only membership policy gives it a veneer of exclusivity," Radcliffe said. "It’s new and fresh—the hot new thing on the Silicon Valley block.

"And it’s focused on voice, which is still innovative for social media. Most social networks have either been text-based, or more visual in their appeal."

“In Clubhouse, you wander from room to room, not quite know what you’re going to get.”

The fact that you never quite know what you’re getting when you enter Clubhouse adds to its attraction, Radcliffe said. "In Clubhouse, you wander from room to room, not quite knowing what you’re going to get," he added.

"That’s a notable difference from the algorithmically driven nature of most social networks."

On Clubhouse and similar apps, hopping in and out of themed "rooms," users can hear the voices of people all around the world on a wide variety of topics. 

"I’ve been in many rooms where people have called the experience 'life-changing.' I was in a room for lovers of Asian desserts where people were shocked that so many people from diverse backgrounds and locations all liked the same seemingly obscure foods," Clubhouse user Michael Freeby said in an email interview.

"It could be large groups of people passionate about Britney Spears or Cardi B or Metallica. It could be large groups of people passionate about fishing."

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