What is Clubhouse and how do I use it?

Clubhouse is an audio and chat social networking site that works in practice like a mix of a conference call provider, like Zoom, and the popular lockdown app Houseparty.

Despite the fact Clubhouse has been around since March 2020, its popularity has recently soared with Elon Musk hosting an audio chat that maxed out the app’s conversation room limits and was live streamed to YouTube. In May 2020, it had just 1,500 users a figure that has increased to 2 million as of February 2021.

Just as you would tune into a podcast, with Clubhouse, users can listen in to conversations, interviews, and discussions between interesting people on various topics – the only difference is the debates are live and, as the app is in its beta stage, you can only join via an invitation. This means you can’t just download Clubhouse off the App or Google Play store like you normally would with most apps. Instead, you have to be invited to join by an existing member. If you are invited, a link will be texted to your phone number directing you to a sign-up page in the app. As of February 2021, existing members only have two invites they can give out (a number that increases the more they use the app). However, demand for membership has become so popular that a market for these invites has grown on platforms like Reddit, eBay, and Craigslist – with the requests being sold for around $50.

If you’re an iPhone user, you can still download the app and get on the waiting list even if you haven’t been invited. Here, you’ll reserve a username for your future profile, should you wish to – although you won’t have access to any of the discussions taking place on the app.

Once you’ve been accepted as a member, you select topics of interest, like tech, books, business or health and the app gives you personalised recommendations about what you should follow or join. Inside a room you can listen or raise your hand by tapping a button if you have something to say. A moderator in the room will allow you “on stage,” which essentially gives you permission to talk if you have something to contribute. The rooms will each have a different number of participants, with the current limit being 5,000 people per room.

Unlike other streaming networks, such as Twitch, where live streamed videos stay on the platform for people to return to and watch – the live audio-chats in Clubhouse conversation rooms disappear. (However, this doesn’t stop users from recording the live conversation, should they wish to.)

The app has stated it has plans to expand to the general public soon. It says it hasn’t done that yet for two reasons: It wants to build community slowly and it wants to prepare features that will help it handle larger numbers of people. For example, the app has already experienced some problems with the spread of misinformation and online bullying that it is working out how to handle on a larger scale.

Are you interested in joining Clubhouse? Let us know in the comments section.

You can also read some of our other interesting posts on similar social networking apps here: