You’re Going To Ruin Clubhouse

Tom Webster
5 min readFeb 3, 2021

You’re going to ruin Clubhouse.

If you haven’t used Clubhouse yet, feel free to skip this post. This is not a “Clubhouse is going to fail” prediction. I actually think it’s awesome for very small group conversations. I’ve fired up rooms on my morning walks and had some delightful, quick encounters with people I used to see at conferences. Weak threads, perhaps — but they all hold us up, don’t they? There are probably some incredible use cases for intra-corporate communications, all-hands meetings, and the like. And it’s a great place to go to hear a specific speaker you are interested in give a one-way talk. It’s fun — it’s a conference call, except you can clearly see who is talking without the ceaseless exhaustion of video. That alone, to me, is cool enough to keep Clubhouse around. I’ve enjoyed these aspects.

But you’re going to ruin it if you use the way I currently often see it being used. I am not going to be trying to get as many people as I can into a Marketing Mastermind room or whatever. I’m sorry, I’m just not. Clubhouse used in that way is little more than a cruel joke, and soon, people are going to get that joke.

Here’s the joke: “social audio.”

A few nights ago, I sat in on a popular room about podcasting, and the moderator recognized me and pulled me on stage (she “voluntold” me, as she put it, a term I loved.) I was flattered! For the rest of the hour, I and a couple of other panelists took questions from the many participants. It felt good. I probably answered eight questions before the room ended after its predetermined hour.

Delightful and serendipitous.

But here’s the thing: I have a name in podcasting. I got recognized and highlighted. There were a lot of people in that room, but we only got to eight questions, and not very deeply. The moderator picked them out of 100 people. If there were 200 people, we still would have gotten to eight questions. 2,000 people? Eight questions. It was a panel at a conference. It was fun at the time. Looking back at it, though, I’m not sure it was as social as we all thought.

There’s nothing social about these kinds of rooms. Just the opposite: many of these rooms are just painful reminders that you *don’t* have a voice. I have a voice on Twitter. I have a voice on…

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Tom Webster

Partner, Sounds Profitable. Leading voice in podcasting, digital audio, and greyhounds