Today marks the 77th day since I got onboarded to Clubhouse.
Clubhouse, for those not familiar with it, is essentially an audio-first social network. It’s kind of a mix between Reddit and a podcast. An interactive radio show. The app lets you jump into different chat rooms and participate in – or just listen to – live audio conversations around different topics.
It’s an exciting product.
And yet, in these last 77 days, I have actively used Clubhouse exactly three times.
The problem with Clubhouse is that you can only listen to conversations live as they happen. Given that the majority of the current user base is in North America, the most interesting conversations usually happen in the middle of the (European) night when I’m asleep.
The first thing I see on my phone after I wake up are a handful of Clubhouse notifications telling me about the all the interesting conversations I missed. I wish I could just download these conversations as podcasts and listen to them later.
Some have pointed out that the live nature of Clubhouse is exactly what makes it so special, comparing it to the ephemerality of Snapchat. And while I disagree on the Snapchat comparison (ephemerality ≠ synchronous creation and consumption), I do think it makes sense for Clubhouse to find its own native format rather than compete with podcasts directly.
While Clubhouse feels like live podcasts at the moment, I think over time it will probably evolve into something else. Something more unique.
The current state of Clubhouse reminds me of the early days of Twitter: People knew it was a unique new form factor, but they didn’t know how to use it yet. Most tweets were just short status updates. It took some time until the platform found its current form and use cases.
One of those use cases is “Twitter as a second screen”: Live commenting TV shows and sports events. I strongly suspect that this will become one of Clubhouse’s main uses cases as well.
As I pointed out in Airpods as a Platform, I see audio primarily as a secondary interface: You listen to music while you’re working out, for example. You consume podcasts while you are driving or commuting. You talk on Discord while you’re playing a game.
Audio is a medium that supports and augments other activities.
So instead of thinking about whether Clubhouse should make conversations available as downloads, a perhaps more interesting question is what activities could best be augmented with live audio? What does Clubhouse as an audio layer for other content look like?
The most obvious use case seems to be sports (and other events that have to be consumed live). I would love to replace the audio track of my TV sports broadcasters with a select group of (Clubhouse) experts whose opinions I’m actually interested in.
I wonder what other events or activities this would work for.
Do you have any ideas?