Inside Clubhouse, the hot new audio-chatroom app

It is safe to say that the new social media app, Clubhouse, certainly has generated a lot of hype. Apostles of the app promise that it will be a complete game changer, offering never before seen levels of quality conversation and networking. It’s just like hanging out with people in real life, claims Vogue. Ok. But what is it really like behind the hype? And what exactly has caused its sudden rise to prominence?

Basically, Clubhouse is a new social media platform, currently exclusive to the iPhone. Instead of tweets, pictures, and status updates, Clubhouse ditches all that for focused, audio-only chat rooms where users can listen to and actually engage in high-level conversations on everything from technology to politics to pop culture.

The concept of audio chat rooms is not new. Discord, for instance, has offered similar services since 2015. Clubhouse stands out with a more sophisticated image, catering to social media influencers and business professionals. Some have compared the experience to dropping in out of your own personal podcasts.

The app is simple and well-designed. Once you log in, you are greeted with a spare main page that shows lists currently open and trending “rooms,” in addition to schedule upcoming chats and conversations. You are then free to enter any unlocked, public room and join in the conversation.

Once you join a room you will immediately start listening in on the current conversation. These cover a wide variety of different cultural and educational topics. Then raise your hand, and the room’s moderator can invite you to come up on stage for you to share your thoughts and insight as well. If you find this room is not for you, it’s very easy to leave quietly and find another room. You can also create locked or private rooms, if you just want to connect with friends or go deeper in a less open forum.

The variety of rooms and conversations really is staggering. It’s easy to get lost in it. The quality of the conversations is also legitimately quite high. This is still the internet, so there are plenty of exceptions to that rule. But on the whole, most of the people using Clubhouse currently are invested in making it the next big thing, which drives up the quality of the content.

The next big thing. Perhaps the feature that has contributed the most to Clubhouse’s meteoric success so far is membership is currently granted on an invite-only basis. You can sign up for the app’s wait list, if you want to. But really the only way in is to receive an invite from someone you know. Members only have a few invites to give as well, giving the app a feeling of exclusivity. This definitely enhances the experience, if only by gratifying the ego.

On a more serious note, this invite-only system has meant that Clubhouse is currently being used by a number of celebrities and high-profile business and thought leaders, with Oprah and Drake being two of the most prominent examples. There are definitely opportunities to learn from and network with people who would otherwise be entirely out of reach. Clubhouse’s exclusivity gives at least the illusion of it being a level playing field. Clubhouse doesn’t let users record conversations, which has helped bring in a large number of high-profile users.

The app is still in the beta stages of development. It regularly receives content updates, with improvements to its features and algorithms. The current invite-only system is slated to change once it is more widely released, but precise details are currently sparse.

At the end of the day, it remains to be seen if Clubhouse will live up to the incredible amount of hype it’s been generating. A platform like this is only as good as its user base. Traditional social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can range from the thought-provoking and insightful to absolute dumpster fires. If Clubhouse can maintain its relatively high-level of quality control and privacy protection, all signs point to it blossoming into a truly game changing platform.

Join Clubhouse’s waiting list and learn more about it here.

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