How do I get a Clubhouse invite?
The audio-only platform is still in beta mode, but people are already so desperate to get involved that they're buying invites on eBay. Here's why.
2021 is an introvert's paradise and an extrovert's nightmare. We exist in a dystopian reality where most social gatherings are illegal, and you'd rightfully face a three-figure fine for attending a house party. Since we can barely leave our homes to socialise, you'd think FOMO would have died out by now. Aside from influencers doing "essential work" in Dubai, our Instagram feeds are filled with humble and homely content. Beyoncé's internet is officially the only safe space for socialising, which means screen times are skyrocketing.
Video platforms have certainly dominated lockdown. In March 2020 alone, House Party, the momentarily popular video-chat app, was downloaded 17 million times, while Tiktok, an app that's hard to imagine not being a part of our daily lives, was downloaded a staggering 115 million times. Recent figures show Zoom – predominantly for meetings, but also the new frontier for pub quizzes – hosts around 300 million daily meetings, compared to just 10 million in December 2019. However, the latest lockdown phenomenon may be one you've heard of but aren't quite sure how to get into.
Clubhouse is an audio-only social media. It's like a live podcast that anyone can participate in, even while using other apps simultaneously. Like Twitter has a feed, Clubhouse has a 'hallway' filled with user-created virtual rooms on any chosen topic. Users can drop in and out of rooms to listen as an audience member or join the virtual 'stage' to share their opinions. Unlike Zoom, where there's pressure to look camera-ready or ignite ire for leaving your camera off, Clubhouse feeds the desire to be heard without ever needing to be seen. (Kind of like a phone call, remember those?)
When it launched back in early 2020, Clubhouse had less than 5,000 test users and a single room where they could casually chat with founders Rohan Seth and Paul Davison. In mid-May, Forbes reported that the app had received a $100 million valuation. Almost nine months later, it is now worth $1 billion, has hit two million weekly users and, in December, was met with Twitter's swiftly-launched rival audio service, Spaces. In short, if you're not on the app already, then what are you waiting for?
While initially attracting buzz for allowing people across the world to rub virtual shoulders with Drake, Virgil Abloh and Kevin Hart, the hype around Clubhouse ultimately comes from the age-old trick of exclusivity. Despite its mammoth popularity and user base, the app is still in beta mode, and so access is both invite- and iOS-only. There's an unwritten rule that what happens on Clubhouse stays on Clubhouse, but in reality, tea typically ends up spilling out onto social media. And while the platform recently cracked down on screen-recording, announcing last month it would ban users found to be recording chatrooms, it still occurs. Which is how we know that actor Lakeith Stanfield participated in a 'moan room' — a space where users suggestively moan for a cash prize — even though we weren't there to witness it ourselves.
So, curiosity has got the better of you, and you want a taste of Clubhouse. Once the app is downloaded, you're placed on a long waiting list. But there are few ways to speed up entry! If one of your contacts is already a user, they may get alerted that you're waiting in line and be given the option to boost you in. Every new user is granted two invites, and people frequently get rewarded with extra invites for spending time on the app, so skip the queue entirely by asking a friend to text you an invite link. Clubhouse uses mobile numbers for sign-ups, so make sure you send your connection the right phone number. Once an invite has been sent, there's no getting it back.
If the previous options have failed you, it's worth searching 'Clubhouse' on Twitter. A generous stranger may have a spare invite to hand out. Back in the day — by which we mean December, when Clubhouse saw its quickest growth — there was a thriving resale market for Clubhouse invites. You read that right. People were paying Clubhouse users for their spare invites. In November, the going rate on eBay was $60.
Getting into Clubhouse is well worth the temporary hustle and asking around. The app is still in its ad-free early days, and there's an exciting sense of community. Once you've made it through the doors, you can build a reputation for yourself based on how interesting your inputs to debates are, rather than on follower counts and verified ticks.
In a world where meeting new people is so limited, Clubhouse offers the closest thing we have to mingling with new people right now.
The app may still be a work in progress; it glitches when a room reaches over 5,000 listeners, and user-based moderation misinformation and cyberbullying are a growing concern. But for now, at least, it sure does fill a social void.