Mar 25, 2021 - Economy

The cottage industry around audio app Clubhouse

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill as an equalizer. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Audio chat app Clubhouse celebrated its one-year anniversary last week despite still requiring an invite to use — and yet, a cottage industry of tools and self-proclaimed experts, has sprung up.

Why it matters: Audio has seen a boom during the pandemic, with people stuck at home amid mass adoption of wireless headphones and smart devices.

The big picture: With the app still in its testing phase, the company has taken its time to add features and make changes, sometimes at a pace too slow for users when it comes to safety or reliability.

Yes, but: That hasn't stopped third parties from tapping into the frenzy and building a growing number of tools for Clubhouse users:

  • Summaries and notes: Since Clubhouse is live audio and conversations can sometimes go on for hours, some like Host Notes are providing ways to generate notes.
  • Analytics: With a growing number of entrepreneurs and companies looking to use Clubhouse as a marketing vehicle, analytics tools like Direcon could become popular.
  • Chat: While Clubhouse users on a room’s “stage” can speak, those in the audience cannot. Enter apps for chat and group forums like Spore and Brightful.
  • Monetizing: While users wait for the company to roll out ways of generating revenue for conversation hosts, companies like sponsorship marketplace Clubmarket are looking to fill that gap.
  • Marketing: Customizing one’s profile and conversation invites has become an art, and tools like Twiso and Comet aim to make it easier.
  • Books: Even books about mastering the app are showing up on Amazon in record speed.

Not surprisingly, there are marketplaces for coveted invites to the app, often asking users to pass on the favor once they get their own.

Between the lines: It’s possible some, or many, of these tools become obsolete if Clubhouse builds out its own versions of such features or makes it harder for them to operate.

The bottom line: There's no clearer sign of an app's popularity than the emergence of apps for it.

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