Judging by Music Ally’s social media timeline, attitudes towards audio startup Clubhouse are evenly split between evangelism and disdain – although never forget that out in the wider world beyond the tech and media bubble, most people still haven’t even heard of the app.

Still, Clubhouse is certainly having a moment within that bubble, with two million users; funding making it the latest tech ‘unicorn’ valued at more than $1bn; celebrities flocking to its virtual stages; and even that traditional rite of passage for a buzzy social media startup – rumours that Facebook is cloning it.

It’s also a time for What Does It All Mean? blog posts about Clubhouse’s potential, and one of the better ones comes from Stratechery’s Ben Thompson. This part caught our eye, on the implications of Clubhouse’s rise and the moves of Facebook and Twitter into its space:

“One potential loser, meanwhile, is Spotify; the company has bet heavily on podcasts, which could be similar to betting on blogs in 2007,” wrote Thompson, before clarifying that Spotify’s subscription model may insulate it from harm. “It may turn out that Spotify is the obvious home for highly produced content, available in a more consumer-friendly bundle than the a la carte pricing that followed from blogging’s decentralised nature.”

It’s an interesting and important point though. Spotify has made no secret that a.) its future is ‘audio first’ including spoken word content alongside music; b.) initially that’s about ploughing hundreds of millions of dollars into podcasting, with an eye to expanding beyond those; and c.) that this is all about positioning streaming (and Spotify specifically) as a replacement for live radio.

What is radio? Live audio. Spotify doesn’t have any of that yet. One route would be to go for sports broadcast rights, in the same way that Amazon has in the video sphere. But another path opening up is the Clubhouse idea: essentially live podcasts where the audience can join in. The question would be another tech-industry trope: partner, build or buy? A dilemma – but an interesting and even exciting one – for Spotify.

Next Monday (22 February) Spotify is holding an online ‘Stream On’ event to outline its plans for the next stage of its growth to journalists, investors and partners. There might not be anything Clubhouse-related to announce, but we’d expect Spotify’s execs to talk about – and if not, certainly to be asked about – live audio and its role in the platform’s future.

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you understand what’s required for artists to thrive in new international markets!

Avatar photo

Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *