After launching its Creator Accelerator Program last month, in a bid to keep top broadcasters aligned to the app, Clubhouse has now launched its first direct payment process, which will enable users to transfer funds to their favorite hosts
As explained by Clubhouse:
"Today, we’re thrilled to begin rolling out Payments - our first monetization feature for creators on Clubhouse. All users will be able to send payments today, and we’ll be rolling out the ability to receive payments in waves, starting with a small test group today. Our hope is to collect feedback, fine-tune the feature, and roll it out to everyone soon."
As you can see in the example images above, the process will enable users to transfer funds to creators by simply accessing their profile and tapping on the 'Send Money' prompt at the bottom of the screen. Users will need to register a credit or debit card to facilitate the process, with Clubhouse, at least at this stage, transferring 100% of any payment through to the creator.
It's another important step for Clubhouse in keeping its top broadcasters active, especially as rival audio social options continue to rise. Twitter's Spaces is the app's top competitor thus far, providing far greater audience reach, with largely the same functionality. Twitter's moving quickly to bring Spaces to Android and desktop, before Clubhouse is able to take the same leap, while Facebook is also working on its audio social offering, and LinkedIn last week revealed that it's also exploring the same.
That will make it increasingly difficult for Clubhouse to maintain its audience - and already, there are signs that the app is losing momentum.
As you can see in this chart, provided by Sensor Tower, in early January, Clubhouse was ranked at 33 on the iPhone free apps download chart. It's now down to 278, and falling, which, at least in part, can be attributed to the app's limited access due to its invite-only approach.
That's actually been Clubhouse's key strength and weakness. The app gained notoriety largely through FOMO, with people who couldn't access the app increasingly keen to get in on the action, especially with big celebrities like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg popping up in Clubhouse chats. But now, restricting the app's audience has also provided a gap for challengers to exploit. If, for example, Twitter brings Spaces to Android users before Clubhouse can get there, that will mean that Twitter's replica functionality is able to connect with a lot more users who will be more aligned to Spaces as their audio social option, over the originator itself.
And with each of these challengers offering far greater audience reach, and where many top broadcasters have already built large followings, it will be increasingly difficult for Clubhouse to keep them around in its smaller, more limited app.
Why broadcast to a small section of your audience, when you can reach so many more via a similar process?
That's why Clubhouse needs monetization options like this to keep them around - and the fact that Clubhouse isn't taking a cut could be a relevant incentive.
But will it be enough? On balance, looking at the download trends, it doesn't seem like it will be, but it's important that Clubhouse takes these steps now, or it risks losing out completely either way.