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What is Clubhouse and how do you join?

Everyone is talking about it, but why?

clubhouse app on iphone
Image: KnowTechie

It feels like there are tons of social apps coming out or gaining traction almost every day recently. Signal is trying to capture WhatsApp’s audience. MeWe wants a piece of Facebook’s pie. And now Clubhouse is throwing its hat in to grab users from… Actually, I’m not really sure who Clubhouse wants to poach from. Everyone, maybe?

Anyway, with the fact it’s going from strength to strength, and currently has an audience of around 600,000 members, it’s worth taking a look at what it is and how to use it.

How does it work?

clubhouse sign up
Image: KnowTechie

Clubhouse cherry picks different aspects from lots of different apps to create an experience that’s entirely unique. Imagine the voice chat of Discord blended with a pinch of TikTok’s incredibly social focus. Add a dash of old-school chatrooms, and you’re somewhere close to what’s being presented. It even has a touch of Omegle in there, but the lack of video means you can avoid the awkwardness of seeing a stranger’s penis every 17 seconds.

At the minute, the only way to join is either invite or by someone vouching for you. If neither of these happen, you’ll join a waiting list, and you’ll be added when Clubhouse has the capacity. That could be a matter of hours, days, weeks, or even months.

How to sign up to Clubhouse

Download the iOS version for iPhone or iPad here. If you haven’t been invited by one of the chosen few, you can request and reserve the username of your choice with your phone number. Those lucky enough to have been invited will still need to use their phone number to verify everything.

Once the app bouncers finally let you in, you’ll also get a few invites of your own to pass on to anyone you want.  Invite your friends and family to take part in a Cable Guy-style medieval battle to get one. I’m sure nothing can go wrong there.

In short – you don’t sign up for Clubhouse. You are chosen.

How to use it

You have a couple of options when setting up your account – import from Twitter/Insta, or start from scratch. Search your contacts for existing members to follow, then Clubhouse will suggest some famous people to stalk follow.

clubhouse invite screen
Image: Clubhouse

Obviously, it’s not just about following people. There are no news feeds to peruse through, and you won’t see random ramblings from Z-list celebrities. You need to seek out your interests, enter some communities, and once back on the main page you’ll see a list of live conversations happening at that time.

Dropping into a topic can be massively overwhelming at first. With so many people vying for attention and trying to promote themselves, it can be tough to find somewhere to fit in properly. Luckily, there are a couple of measures that have been implemented to make things run a little smoother.

app screenshots
Image: Knowtechie

Each ‘club’ (chatroom) has its own personalized rules. These are created by the organizers of each club and must be followed if you don’t want to be booted or hit with a ban hammer. Within each club there are also featured speakers who can speak freely at any time. You might also need to wait your turn before you can share your thoughts and feelings on any given subject. Think of it like raising your hand while the teachers are still talking.

When the floor is yours, the only other people that can speak at that time are the featured speakers. It’s a great way to do things and prevents things from descending into a wall of noise, although sometimes it feels like specific points can pass by before you get the chance to talk.

Clubhouse in use

Look, I don’t know if I’m old, stupid, confused by new things, or a combination of all three, but I really don’t like navigating Clubhouse. I’m struggling to find things to ‘do’ on there. Admittedly, you get a list of ongoing conversations each time you hop into the app, but even then, it just feels a little sparse.

clubhouse rooms and activities
Image: KnowTechie

Searching is nice and easy, but I joined up to a gaming club and a WWE club. Both of which had no conversations happening at the time so were a little pointless. I don’t like talking to people at the best of times. Going into an app to search out groups of people to converse with is just not something that has any inherent appeal for me. Social butterflies, however, will adore this aspect.

Getting a couple of iOS-using friends together and filling out a room can be great fun, but this can also be replicated in plenty of other places.

Are there any alternatives?

The developers are planning to use the latest round of funding to develop an Android app, but at the moment anyone not on an iPad or iPhone has no way to join. Even those on an Apple device are restricted by the invite-only system. Luckily, for anyone who’s currently left in the dark, there are a couple of alternatives you might be able to use.

If you’re looking to interact with celebrities, then Cameo is the way to go. Obviously, there’s a price to pay (anything from a dollar for the app’s creator, Martin Blencowe, to $1000 for WWE’s The Undertaker), but you also get personalized video messages out of the deal. The basic idea might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you want something to keep on your phone for posterity, Cameo is a great idea. Download on Android here, or iOS here.

Discord makes it easy to talk with friends around the world. Like Clubhouse, most interests will be catered to, and most are easy to find – just google your interest and you can usually find a list of rooms. Unlike Clubhouse, you can also use text chat on Discord. A desktop client, outstanding audio quality, and the ability to create a space for you and your friends mean it’s also perfect for co-op gaming. Some streamers and YouTubers also use the service as a way to connect with their fans, so the ‘celebrity’ aspect is still here.  Download for Android here, and iOS here.

houseparty cta
Image: Housepart

If you’re thinking of using Clubhouse just to connect with friends outside the usual social media giants like Facebook and Instagram, then Houseparty might do the trick. It gained popularity at the start of 2020’s lockdowns as a way to keep seeing friends. It then disappeared again just as quickly. There are games to play on there, and you can talk to up to eight people at a time. Download for Android here, and iOS here.

Is Clubhouse worth using?

At the minute it feels like the hook is just how hard it is to get on there. While there are hundreds of topics to discover and talk about, it kind of feels like a one-trick pony. At times it can also be hard to get in on conversations. That could just be my introverted side talking, throwing dozens of people into a room together? It can feel massively chaotic.

I can definitely see the appeal. Some people are absolutely going to be drawn to the unique service Clubhouse provides. Others may just feel like they’re shouting into the abyss, though. Maybe it’s not quite time to leave Twitter just yet.

Have any thoughts on this? Interested in Clubhouse? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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