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Clubhouse: Everything You Must Know About Audio-Only Chat App

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Are you curious as to why you’ve been hearing so much about Clubhouse? We can partially blame Elon Musk, as we can with the “Gamestonk” scandal. The world’s (sometimes) richest guy drew a lot of attention to the service by showing up in a Clubhouse room in January 2021. Bill Gates followed suit, and the trend has continued. What you need to know about the audio chat app is shown below.

Okay, so what is it?

The gist is as follows: Imagine you have an app on your phone that allows you listen in on other people’s live conversations. These people want to be heard, but not in a weird way. They might even be well-known, or at the very least intriguing and knowledgeable (no guarantee, however). You may also be invited to participate in the chat. Consider it a social network for audio chat.

When did it launch?

Clubhouse debuted in March 2020 (together with COVID in the United States!). Because of its initial invite-only exclusivity, similar to a real-world club membership, it became a huge thing to a select few. It was a small society back then, mostly made up of venture capitalists. After all, Alpha Exploration Co., the firm behind Clubhouse, secured a $12 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz after only two months of operation. It was rapidly valued at $100 million, despite the fact that it had just 1,500 subscribers at the time. (As of April 2021, the estimated value is $4 billion.)

So there are no pictures or videos?

No. Only profile pics for each user.

Where can I get the Clubhouse app?

Clubhouse is available on iOS and Android right now. It was first released on iOS last year, and in early May, the company began a US-only Android rollout. It’s now available for Android users all across the world. In less than two weeks, the Android version had surpassed 1 million downloads, and by July, it had surpassed 10 million.

Can I use Clubhouse on the iPad?

Yes, but it isn’t designed for iPadOS. As a result, you’ll be using the program in a small window or viewing it in a strange 2x zoomed-in size. On an Android tablet, though, it should work fine.

Cool, so I can just sign up, right?

Yes! As of July 21, 2021, Clubhouse is no longer invite-only. Anyone with an iPhone or a smartphone running Android can get access.

Why did it take so long to make an Android app?

The developers desired a gradual increase in size. In the world, Android users outnumber iPhone users. After a publicity stunt, launching on Android may have terminated the Clubhouse servers (like, say, having Musk in a room).

Naturally, there will be scumbags who take advantage of this popularity and growth. A Trojan application posing as Clubhouse for Android was distributed over a bogus website at joinclubhouse[.]mobi. It attempted to steal your login information for nearly 500 different online services. Be extremely cautious.

So all I need is the app? There’s no website?

Clubhouse.com (the new official site) and joinclubhouse.com (the old pointer, which is more mobile-friendly) are both available. Rooms are not accessible on any location. They include links to the iOS or Android apps as well as some information (Clubhouse has a blog.) The app is the sole way to listen to audio chats or participate in them.

This service is not to be confused with clubhouse.io. A project manager is someone who is in charge of a project.

What’s with the app icon?

While Clubhouse has an official logo, the logo (or the waving hand graphic) is not used on the app icon. On a smartphone screen, it will display an ever-rotating black-and-white portrait of a person.

Each individual is a real-life Clubhouse user. It’s usually someone who has had a significant impact on the platform, or who Clubhouse believes has a thorough understanding of what it does. Each icon is only available for a few weeks before being replaced with a big app update. Some have complimented Clubhouse’s design choice as a way to break up the monotony, while others believe it simply makes it more difficult to discover the app on your phone when the symbol changes.

Drue Kataoka, a social activist and visual artist, is Clubhouse’s seventh iconic figure. Axel Mansoor and Bomani X (shown above), startup booster Erika Batista, and tech podcaster Espree Devora were among the previous icons.

How much of my data does Clubhouse want for registration?

You must provide Clubhouse with your phone number as well as your true name (in theory). You’ll receive an SMS text with a link instructing you to go to joinclubhouse.com/app and sign in with that number.

If you don’t want to create a new profile, link your Twitter account to Clubhouse; it’ll even bring in your existing Twitter profile photo. In order to make it easier to locate people to follow, Clubhouse encourages you to link your contacts. If you don’t have a contact list full of influencers, don’t bother. Once you’ve logged in, confirm your email address with the service so you can use it to rejoin in the event of a problem.

What am I supposed to listen to on Clubhouse?

When you eventually gain access, the app presents you with a page full of conversational subjects to follow, ranging from sports to technology to current events to spirituality to “hustle,” and so on. You can identify others who are interested in the same subject in each and follow them. The more subjects and people you follow, the more likely you are to receive room ideas that match your preferences.

The conversations aren’t permanent?

For the time being, people start and stop Conversation Rooms. That will soon change. Replay, a Clubhouse feature, will be available shortly, allowing the room creator to record the conversation, save it to their profile or club, and then share it with anybody (yeah, just like a podcast). The audio will be as ephemeral as it is today if the creator does not enable the Replay option, however users have long found ways to circumvent this. Clubhouse is only trying to keep up with the times (and the competition).

Clips, a new feature in Clubhouse, is also being introduced. Anyone in a public room will be able to record a 30-second clip of the dialogue taking place there, which they may share with others to entice them to join in. Clips is currently in beta.

How many people can be in a conversation?

The current Clubhouse room capacity is 5,000 people, which Musk, of course, exceeded. Users in the group began live-streaming the discussion on YouTube (a smart workaround for recording what was said). The 5,000-person limit can, however, be disabled at Clubhouse’s discretion.

What do you really mean by a conversation? Isn’t it like a podcast?

It all depends on your personal taste in podcasts. Remember that everyone is using their smartphones to communicate, not expensive audio equipment. Because they can’t see one other, it’s as if they’re listening in on a phone conversation. There is no professional editing, sound effects, transitions, or advertising in this video (at least not officially).

However, the conversation’s “type” is flexible: one room may be a casual one-on-one between friends, while another could be a more formal talk-show-style interview, a large group debate, or even a music-sharing session. If someone interesting enters the room, such as a millionaire, the room creator/moderator might invite them to speak on the “stage.”

So I can only listen in?

Not necessarily. Anyone listening in can virtually “raise a hand.” It’s up to the room’s creator/moderator if they want to let you talk.

So, at least for now, is Clubhouse really like ‘Medium for Podcasts?’

To the extent that it lets anyone create a room on the fly, without any promise of future conversations, it is. Unlike Medium, there’s no official record of it. The conversations, AKA “clubs,” are not recorded or stored for future listeners.

Sounds more like Zoom without video.

Sure, in some ways…or you could do a Zoom or Google Meet without the video. Zoom meetings, on the other hand, aren’t open to the general public by default. Clubs are open to anyone who finds them, not just a chosen few. Because the virtual dais is limited, persons who have something significant or interesting to say should get the opportunity to speak. It’s also a great difference from today’s everyday video chats to not have to glance at the device while talking.

That’s all there is then, talking and talking and talking.

Actually, you may now type with your thumbs to talk in a new old-fashioned style. Clubhouse launched Backchannel in July 2021, allowing users to text-chat with others via direct messages (DMs) even if they’re all in the same Clubhouse session or after the room has ended. It can be used by speakers to solicit comments from the audience. There’s no need to switch between Signal, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger to whine, gossip, or plan an event. Backchannel will also provide a message request inbox. You can get to it by tapping the airplane icon in the lower right corner or swiping left.

This puts Clubhouse in direct rivalry with Facebook and Twitter, which you can learn more about further down. Of course, the ultimate goal is for customers to never, ever leave the Clubhouse app. Backchannel will eventually support sending photos and video.

Can I make money?

Yes. Clubhouse, in collaboration with payment processor Stripe, has launched a revenue plan for creators on iOS in the United States. It is not supported by advertisements. Users can pay creators with an in-app payment, with 100% of the money going to them and a processing fee going to Stripe; Clubhouse claims it isn’t skimming any of the money.

The company had also developed a Creator First accelerator program, which provided everything from equipment to special guests to promotion to the people who were really driving the traffic. In May, the finalists were announced.

Users of Clubhouse (which is still available on iOS in the United States) can make and receive payments. Find it in the app under your profile, then go to Settings > Payments by clicking the gear icon. It also necessitates the use of a Stripe account.

I feel like I can do this somewhere else…

Clubhouse knock-offs—I mean competitors—are definitely here. Because, like everything else in tech, when there’s blood in the water, the big sharks come swimming. (Remember when everyone wanted to be TikTok?) Here’s a quick list.

  • Shark Tank‘s Mark Cuban, an early Clubhouse user, is involved in one called Fireside, a sort-of mix of Clubhouse and Spotify’s podcast software, Anchor, which they are calling a “story-telling platform.”
  • Twitter’s Spaces is now open to anyone with 600 or more followers; select users will get access soon to the monetized Ticketed Spaces option.
  • The Telegram messaging app now has a Voice Chat feature, with recording integrated. Users can seamlessly transfer the meeting into a video group chat with up to 30 people.
  • Instagram has already improved its group live-streaming feature called Live Rooms to allow more than two users to stream together (but with video).
  • Reddit has a sneak peek of Reddit Talk, for hosting live audio conversations in a community.
  • Spotify has launched Greenroom, based on tech it acquired with Betty Labs. It runs on iOS and Android and offers a live audio experience geared toward music. Anyone can host or participate. This one supports recording.
  • Slack has introduced Huddles as a new “lightweight audio-first way to start live conversations.” Meaning it’s a quick way to start an online phone call with your co-workers, so it’s not really a Clubhouse competitor since the audio isn’t public. It’s more Clubhouse-adjacent.
  • Of course, Facebook refuses to be left out. It is launching a bunch of audio tools for the creation of Soundbites for posting, podcasts, and of course, Live Audio Rooms—its answer to Clubhouse. (Facebook also has a thing called Hotline to do recorded public conversations with video options, much like Instagram Live Rooms.)

Are third parties making any Clubhouse add-ons?

Yes, but it won’t be easy because there isn’t an application programming interface (API) for developers to use to integrate their products with the Clubhouse experience. Direcon, for example, wants to assist you with Clubhouse discussion statistics (for $50 per month), but this initially meant a little too much exposure to user information. Soundboards (sound effects are beneficial to every chat), a Telegram-based conversation recorder, audience Q&A boards, Clubhouse-specific link shorteners, and a variety of apps for adding a ring of color to your Clubhouse avatar are among the various tools available. All of this indicates that Clubhouse must make a decision on an API shortly.

What are the downsides of Clubhouse?

The service has had some issues already with hate speech and abuse, so it had to institute community moderation guidelines in October. It made a frequent blunder by assuming that consumers would not be jerks. Jerks are unavoidable.

It was blocked in China in February 2021 because it gives the government there a little too much freedom of expression. If you live in China, this is simply a disadvantage.

Also bad: a third-party developer in China attempted to create an Android version of Clubhouse that didn’t require an invite, resulting in a data leak.

It’s also possible that privacy will be an issue. According to Inc.com, Clubhouse doesn’t specify how long it keeps complaint-related recordings (“until the investigation is complete”) or who gets access to them within the company. Clubhouse collects information about you not only from what you share (contacts and social media), but also from what others share (their contacts and social media). It’s always following you around with all the typical ruses, such as cookies.

What if I want to quit this club?

Previously, you had to email “support@alphaexplorationco.com” to ditch Clubhouse, but following user complaints, you can now deactivate your account by going to Settings > Account > Deactivate Account.