A Pragmatic Podcaster’s Perspective on Clubhouse as it Stands Today
February 8, 2021
There's a lot of chatter about the new startup “unicorn” Clubhouse recently.
And rightly so, it's a fascinating platform allowing for “drop-in audio” at any time, with anyone.
Of course, we podcasters work in audio and so there's been a lot of chatter in the industry about the platform, in particular along the lines of:
- “Clubhouse will kill podcasting”
- “It's a game-changer for marketing your podcast”
- “You MUST be on Clubhouse or you're leaving downloads and monetization on the table”
I've played with Clubhouse – I'm on there myself pretty regularly running the weekly Podcast Launch Accelerator Office Hours every Friday where you can ask questions about launching your show and so, I have a few thoughts on what Clubhouse really means for podcasting.
In short: not that much.
At least not in the wild context of extremes that I outline above.
Rather, Clubhouse has its benefits and its place in your podcasting eco-system but being pragmatic about where and how it fits in is vital.
This post is a direct response to some of the pressured, FOMO-concerned day-to-day working podcasters who have contacted me in a sweat asking about what they should “do about Clubhouse”.
Will Clubhouse kill podcasting?
Let's get the big question out of the way early. Of course, Clubhouse won't kill podcasting. That's silly. And anyone who says it needs a little prod in the direction of common sense.
Why won't Clubhouse kill podcasting?
Because it's a different medium.
Sure, it's audio but so is me sending a voice message to my friends. A flippant example, I realise, but the point stands in that just because the shared audio focus exists it doesn't mean that one will replace the other.
After all, podcasting is content – this example is akin to saying Netflix will replace TikTok – they both deliver content via video but also serve different needs.
What about Clubhouse for podcast marketing?
I like this idea, to a degree.
However, let's be really clear here – Clubhouse is at the point now where the attention you receive over there is cheap attention – that's to say that there's a lot going on over there but not too much that you can't stand out quickly.
That will change. Clubhouse has to make money at some point in the distant future – the VCs will want their money back at some point. How will they make money?
Either through advertising or “pay-to-rank” like Facebook does or through using your data in ways that it isn't doing right now such as retargeting, etc – if it's free, you're the product, remember.
Clubhouse, right now, is in a similar place to other platforms of this ilk that have come and gone and it really reminds me of the wonderful platform “Blab' which essentially did the very same thing but with video alongside.
These conversations happened then, too.
Podcasters (including me) loved Blab. But, it didn't kill anything and reached a point during its early adoption where the “influencers” and “online entrepreneurs” crowded the platform and turned it into what they turn everything else into: a vague attempt to “add value” by just saying the same stuff there that they say everywhere else.
Clubhouse is having that moment right now. It happens.
There's nothing wrong with it but let's be clear about what it really is: an early land grab to pull users to these “influencer” profiles so that they can use it to eventually sell you something.
Cynical? Nah. Factual.
Again, there's nothing wrong with this – it works, but let's not dress it up as anything it isn't.
It's how business happens but the challenge that it brings is that YOU, the busy podcaster then feel the pressure to add ONE MORE TASK to your daily routine for fear of missing out on the next big thing that will help your podcast to grow – when really, the “online entrepreneurs” have that much more outsourced than you that they CAN spend inordinate time on new platforms with nothing else in their business suffering.
Don't feel bad about not being able to do what they do, it's unreasonable pressure on yourself.
In short: Clubhouse for marketing is a solid way of getting cheap attention right now, but it's not likely to push people to listen to your podcast.
Why? They came for a drop-in, not a marketing pitch.
So, where does Clubhouse fit in to podcasting right now?
Clubhouse feels like a way to build community, almost like an audio version of Discord in that it allows us to be present and to connect with people on a peer-to-peer, inclusive level and I think THAT is how we add the value, by complementing our podcast content with inclusive, perhaps behind-the-scenes behaviour that helps our early-adopter listeners to connect with us.
As with anything, consistency is important so if you say you're going to be there in a drop-in, BE there and be there regularly.
Clubhouse is a platform that will find its place.
It doesn't want to be a place fo podcasters, or the online marketers, or the “entrepreneurs” – it wants to be a place for people to connect – just because WE love podcasting doesn't mean that the platform is intended to be FOR US and so, we don't have to label it as a podcast killer, or the podcast marketing silver bullet.
Clubhouse is just one more place to be. Sure, it's shiny and fresh and fun and useful when used properly, but it's not a game changer yet and might never be. It's one more community tool in our tool belt and you should integrate it if you CAN without killing yourself and adding pressure to your already busy podcasting life.
Grab your username, sure, and get familiar with it but if you can't dedicate piles of time to it yet then don't worry – you have plenty of time to get into it and you are NOT damaging your podcasting efforts by not being on it.
Keep publishing, that's what your focus should be. K?