Maybe an audio creator at the social media startup Clubhouse.
Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash
There’s a clubhouse founder somewhere who does Steve Ballmer’s infamous monkey dance. But instead of a sweaty, hoarse “developer, developer, developer, developer”, clubhouse founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth jump around on a virtual (sound) stage and shout “creator, creator, creator, creator”.
And this unique focus is what makes Clubhouse so successful.
At least according to the former TechCrunch editor SignalFire Venture capitalist and reigning clubhouse influencer-du-jour Josh Constine, who has 3.6 million followers on the hot young social audio platform and recently hosted three AAA guests, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke in a single mega show about the emerging creative economy.
This growth is at the expense of the major older social platforms.
Like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
“We did that large research project on the creative economyand we found that one of the biggest trends we saw was that developers built large audiences on certain social media platforms, but then had to move away from those platforms in order to actually monetize that audience, ” said Constine all in one final episode of the TechFirst podcast. “People are trying to get fans on Substack, where they might pay for a subscription or get people to buy a cameo shout from them, or switch to OnlyFans … you see creators have to leave the platforms, to earn money.”
The difference in the clubhouse? A focus from the start on creators as the basis for the success of a social platform.
“Clubhouse has been talking about how to empower creators to build a business from the start,” says Constine. “This developer pilot program, which I am involved in, was launched to create a direct dialogue between the early developers and the company’s founders, and to ensure that they develop the capabilities developers need to build full-fledged, independent businesses directly on this platform without leaving the platform as you have to with so many other social networks.
This is the “Creator First” accelerator program, in which clubhouse funds aspiring developers with equipment, concept and creative help, guests and talent acquisition as well as advertising on and off the platform. And of course a monthly stipend from Clubhouse for ramen and maybe a bed in a cohabiting startup community.
What’s more, the social audio prodigy even connects you to the right brands for sponsorship.
Listen to the interview behind this story:
The focus on the creators has already earned Clubhouse rich rewards. This month, Clubhouse has nearly 13 million downloads on iOS, according to App Annie, of which about 1.3 million come just two weeks after March 1st. In other words, growth is accelerating, and while the social audio platform is iOS-only, Clubhouse recently hired Android developers, so we can expect an Android version of the app to be released soon.
It’s not just about downloads, though. It’s about commitment. And Clubhouse has an exceptional level of commitment.
The US is by far the top market for the social audio startup Clubhouse.
With these 13 million app installations, Clubhouse reaches an average of 6.2 million users per week, according to App Annie. This is literally unknown in the mobile world, where most apps lose around 75% of their users within the first month.
“It’s particularly impressive to see this success with invite-only access, which is limited to iOS, and has caught the attention of other publishers – especially in the social media space like Twitter and ByteDance (parent company of TikTok)”, so a representative from App Annie told me via email.
A focus on creators was clearly important.
But there is also something very special about social audio, says Constine.
“If you whisper something in someone’s ear, they’ll believe you; They will do what you say, ”he told me. “Audio is just too addicting, it has too long session times, it’s too convincing for other social networks to get rid of.”
There is undoubtedly a quarantine atmosphere. This is one of the reasons why Clubhouse and the entire Social Audio category started and why there are now more than 30 social audio startups.
As analyst and clubhouse fan Jeremiah Owyang recently told me, come as you are: no business suit is required.
In fact, no clothing is required.
But the audio also alleviates the isolation we felt over the past year.
“I just missed the feeling of spontaneous collaboration and discussion with other people because we had been locked up for a month”, says Constine. “And I think there are a lot of people in the tech world who usually, especially in Silicon Valley, meet after work to have drinks, to come up with ideas, and we felt like that was kind of missing.”
Clubhouse as a new drying bar perhaps? The 18th century salon of ideas delivered via a mobile app?
Josh Constine, Principal, Venture & Head of Content, SignalFire
But if it’s a bar, it’s also one where, as Constine says, you add a little value as a creator and “amazing things bubble to the surface”.
And not just for those on a large budget.
“You don’t have to be someone rich enough to have a really nice video camera or hire an entire video editing team like you do on YouTube,” says Constine. “You can just jump right in with nothing but an iPhone. And I think that means you get creators who don’t show up anywhere else to build audiences and you get a wider range of voices on a wider range of subjects than any other creative platform in its early days. “
Ultimately, it’s about these creators. And to find ways on the platform to make them successful. Some developers are already working with brands to fund their development as social audio all-stars.
The clubhouse offers support. And more is likely to come.
That said, there is still no clear playbook for financial success as a clubhouse creator, just as there is no really clear playbook on most platforms. Vine is known to die by unsupporting the creators. Snapchat rejected creators for years before hugging her recently. Twitter has been innovating and buying companies at a breakneck pace – for Twitter – over the last year in an attempt to find new ways for developers to make money on the platform, but they haven’t really come up yet. (If they do this, they’ll also help Twitter make money on its platform, you’d think.) I’ve seen YouTube creators say explicitly that Youtubers need to find funds outside of the platform to support themselves to ensure they have a sustainable, livable income.
This leads to what Constine calls phase three of the creative economy.
“In the first phase, developers joined these platforms and made money by sharing advertising revenue,” says Constine. “In phase two, these developers grew very large on these platforms and made money through influencer marketing and sponsoring. But now we’re in phase three where developers are removing their fans from the platform because they aren’t getting great monetization features on the platform and can cobble together a bunch of tools: things like Cameo, Patreon, Looped. “
Or, he adds, Fourth Wall for Merch, Podia or Coursera for classes, and so it goes on.
Maybe even OpenSea for non-fungible tokens.
“We believe this means that every creator has to become a founder,” says Constine. “You have to cobble together these tools and a team to run them. You can’t just do your art. When you’re a guitarist, you can’t just play guitar anymore. You have to be a retailer, merch designer, data scientist, or growth hacker. You’re going to need to be able to design NFTs, I think next is the next big thing. “
(And yes, Constine has been working with artist fnnch to sell NFTs, including those made by Zuckerberg, Ek, and Lutke as honey bears, which auctioned off for 38.88 Ethereum, or $ 64,882.94. Interestingly, this one does Buyers not only get a PDF, a node on a blockchain, and some metadata. Fnnch also provides a 48 “x 36” physical painting.)
The Creator as the new Founder is the ethos of a time when more children want to influence than astronauts.
But it is also the model of a potential future economy with virtual and digital artifacts that can survive a world in which much of the work is done by robots, much of the thinking is done by artificial intelligence, and much of the rewards for hypercapitalists who are extra-planetary Build cities.
In other words, the creative economy could just be the revival of the craft economy and could just be an economy that everyone can participate in.
And ultimately, Clubhouse represents a hub in this creative economy. If you’re a creative person, if you’re passionate about doing something, there will be a place to create, share, and monetize. If video, YouTube or TikTok. If photography, Instagram or Pinterest. When you write, Substack. If audio, podcasts. Or … social audio.
And at the moment mostly clubhouse.
Which, despite the fact that it has major downsides in being exclusive and short-lived, with inferior sound quality than a decent podcast, also has massive advantages if it’s exclusive (everyone wants in) and short-lived (you have to listen now) and of good quality is … with amazing executives, managers and hosts.
For people who like to talk – and people who like to listen – Clubhouse is the place right now.
“I loved Vine and TikTok, but I’m not a great storyboarder with comedic content,” said Constine. “I love Twitter, but sometimes I have trouble becoming authentic when trying to share knowledge there. But in the clubhouse, where I can just talk endlessly, walking up and down this little room – my future daughter’s nursery – you know, if I just scold my phone, it feels natural to me. “
“And I’m excited to see that every creator finds the medium that feels right for them.”
Creator, creator, creator, creator.
I can only see the dance now.
Get a full transcript of our conversation here or subscribe to TechFirst here.