Clubhouse for Android is on its way – has the ship already sailed?

The initial hype surrounding Clubhouse was massive: thousands of users flocked to what had started out as an exclusive audio platform. But various competitors are now copying its model. So, does a Clubhouse Android version still make sense?

App providers such as Facebook are in a competition for best live audio app as well as listeners.
Image: © Adem AY / Unsplash

Clubhouse for Android is on the horizon

Clubhouse’s audio-only format has taken the world by storm, enabling users to listen to discussions about a wide range of topics and get involved themselves – in principle, a kind of live podcast that lets listeners join in. So far, access has only been granted to those with an iPhone (or iOS operating system) and a Clubhouse invite – an exclusivity that you could call clever PR. But might Clubhouse be falling victim to its own exclusivity? The numbers certainly seem to be heading in that direction: despite being valued at around four billion dollars, the audio-only app isn’t performing as well as it did in the beginning:

fewer downloads in March 2021 compared to the previous month
9,6 million
downloads in February 2021 vs.
2,7 million
downloads in March 2021

With dwindling downloads and competitors on its toes, Clubhouse is starting to flounder. Did the audio-only app concept backfire by making itself purely iOS- and invite-based? It’s not really surprising that Clubhouse’s owners are now taking a new approach and opening up the channel to Android in just a few months.

As things stand, Android users won’t have to wait much longer before they can join their iPhone counterparts on the Clubhouse platform. However, making Clubhouse available for Android was something that should have been done a long time ago, given that the competition is catching up – and maybe even storming ahead? The fact is that the hype around the new Clubhouse app has already massively died down. Of course, that happens with every Internet craze. The key here is to prove your mettle over the long term and stand out from the competition. So, how does Clubhouse intend to do that?

New features in the Clubhouse app

One way that the new Clubhouse app wants to gain an advantage over new competitors is to offer a monetization option, called Clubhouse Payments. With this additional feature, being active on Clubhouse will literally pay off for content creators, since they will be able to receive payments from their participants – whether in the form of subscriptions, paid events, or monetary tips. In association with payment processor Stripe, payments can be made via credit card, among other options. The feature is to be gradually unlocked for more and more users.

Furthermore, the company has announced that it intends to invest in better accessibility and personalization. Being able to quickly find personally relevant and interesting rooms will play a major role in this respect – because let’s face it, who wants to listen to countless talks that end up not being as riveting as expected? With that in mind, it is good to see that Clubhouse is focusing more on user centricity and thereby benefiting the speakers to a certain extent. After all, the monetization concept should work even better when listeners are happy with their choice.

Irrespective of all this, Clubhouse can also be used effectively without direct monetization as part of a social selling strategy to reinforce your expert status as a host or speaker, for example.

Too good to not be copied: how Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms are following suit with audio only

Other global social tech players such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter were quick to cotton on to the remarkable success of Clubhouse’s audio-only principle – similarly to the podcast phenomenon in the past. Facebook, for its part, wants to expand its own portfolio with live talks in an audio social app feature for rooms. The new service is scheduled to be launched in Messenger and Facebook groups in summer 2021. Just like Facebook groups, the audio rooms can be made public or private and displayed via a Discover tab as long as they are freely accessible.

But it doesn’t stop there: Facebook is planning monetization options as well. Subscriptions and one-time tickets are currently under discussion for live talks. Considering Facebook’s wide reach, this idea sounds highly promising – but we all know that even the most ingenious new feature doesn’t always catch on.

One thing’s for sure: we’re intrigued to see how Facebook rides the audio wave. A tool going by the name of Soundbites, which can be used to creatively produce audio clips, is currently being tested. Voice filters and noise canceling are also being developed for editing purposes.

While we’re on the topic of monetization, if you want to find out how to advertise in podcasts, you should read our interview with Wolfgang Bscheid.

Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn – how social platforms are jumping on the audio feature trend

It’s not just Facebook that’s embracing the potential of an audio social app with open arms; developers at LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, and Spotify are also trying to emulate the hype enjoyed by Clubhouse.

  • Twitter has developed “Spaces” to attract both iOS and Android users to the microblogging platform. Its answer to the Clubhouse app is currently still only available in a beta version to select users, but the feature is expected to launch soon.
  • The competitor Reddit has also fully thrown itself into emulating the Clubhouse app. The company believes that live audio formats are more appealing in certain contexts and more fun than texts, images, or videos, for example. So far, the feature has only been made available to a small number of hosts who are generous with their feedback.
  • A similar shift is also being observed with Spotify, which has been an audio-only platform from the very start. Spotify has already greatly expanded its podcast portfolio, and now it is focusing on its own live audio format, the Locker Rooms. As with Twitter, Spotify is opening up its new feature to iOS and Android users alike from the outset. However, no one yet knows when it will go live.
  • Last but not least, the developers at Discord are currently perfecting the platform’s “Stage Channels”. They have also learned from Clubhouse’s “mistake” by not giving iOS users preferential treatment. When the audio-only function will be launched is still unclear.

Which giant will win the race to secure the biggest live audio community?

Although Clubhouse will soon be available on Android devices, whether the app’s developers will be quick enough is another question. Only time will tell if the Clubhouse app will come out unscathed from the precarious situation it finds itself in (on the brink of being taken over or at risk of being copied on an enormous scale) and continue to be regarded as a pioneer – or if old-established social media players will be quicker in introducing an app that is open to all users.

Clubhouse for Android (and generally) will only have some sort of chance if the platform manages to keep drawing in famous speakers and offers monetization models that give users enough flexibility.

The trend toward purely auditory formats should be observed with just as much attention. Is an auditory turn away from images and videos emerging here? Are we all fed up with sitting in video conferences and would rather just concentrate on the spoken word? Whether what we’re seeing is a permanent paradigm shift or part of a continual expansion of the existing portfolio of social media giants will depend on how the features put forward by Clubhouse, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are received.

Either way, audio formats should be incorporated into every content marketing strategy. By the way, you can explore the topics of audio and podcasting, voice commerce, and much more in our free “Voice and audio” e-book.

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