Amid rising competition on various fronts, Clubhouse has announced the first round of projects that it's selected as finalists for its Creator First accelerator program, which will provide the winning proposals with support and funding to help them develop their Clubs and rooms in the app.
This first announcement includes a range of projects that will move onto the next phase of selection - as explained by Clubhouse:
"We’ve been blown away by the depth and diversity of the ideas that the community has put forth and we look forward to future opportunities to work with even more creators as this program grows. Narrowing down the list was the hardest part, but today we’re excited to introduce the shows that will participate in Pilot Season."
'Pilot Season', Clubhouse says, is a reference to the entertainment industry process of honing in on winning ideas by commissioning 'dozens of pilots, or proof of concept episodes' to get a better idea of where they're headed, and likely audience response.
The 50+ shortlisted projects include a broad diversity of topics and ideas, including an internet scavenger hunt, a recurring UFO and extraterrestrial focused show, an LGBTIA-inclusive weekly performance series, and a space for sober people to explore and integrate alternative recovery methods.
The Pilot Season process will now give more Clubhouse users a chance to hear more of these concepts, before the Clubhouse team finally whittles the list down to the 20 finalists that will advance to the implementation phase.
"Over the coming weeks, these selected finalists will be sharing their pilot episodes with everyone on Clubhouse. You’ll be hearing from creators around the world including in the US, Indonesia, UK, Argentina, Canada, Colombia and Japan on topics as wide-ranging as you would expect from our community. Whatever your interests – from sports and space, to psychics and psychedelics, to history and healthcare – there’s something for everyone. All pilots will be hosted live on Clubhouse beginning May 10th via Clubhouse HQ."
In its original announcement of its Creator First accelerator program, Clubhouse said that it would provide the 20 program participants with equipment (if required), development support, and brand sponsorship opportunities. Clubhouse will also ensure that those who make the final cut are provided with at least $5000 in guaranteed monthly income for the period that they take part.
This is a key initiative for Clubhouse, because if all of its top broadcasters end up leaving, it won't have much left.
Which is now a much bigger risk, because with Twitter, Facebook and Reddit all launching their own Clubhouse-like features (among others), the options for audio broadcasting on social are rising, and creators can already reach far larger audiences via these other, more established apps.
Clubhouse's growth, and subsequent reach, is still limited by its invite-only approach, while it still doesn't have an Android app (though it's getting closer). Those limitations now pose an existential threat to the once fast-growing platform, which is also now seeing a significant decline in download momentum, as big-name stars start to test the waters of alternative audio social tools.
Which is why the Creator First program is so important, because Clubhouse needs to keep these creators around, while selecting the right ones that will keep listeners coming back, and maybe even expand the use case for the tool, is also essential in order to maximize the app's opportunities while it can. Before these alternative audio platforms snap up all of its potential audience, and leave it as a footnote in the broader audio social trend.
Which increasingly seems to be where it's heading.
Clubhouse can still recover, there's still opportunity for it to find its niche within the social space, and establish its use case in an ever-crowded market. But that chart above is not good, especially this early in the piece.
Maybe, the selected creators will help breathe new life back into the app, while also reigniting audience interests. But without full, open access, including an Android app, the long-term outlook is not overly positive at this stage.