Music Business

Will Spotify Greenroom be the death of Clubhouse?

Spotify’s recent announcement of its revamped version of Locker Room now dubbed Greenroom marks another bold move for the streaming giant and could be bad news for Clubhouse.

Op-ed by Tim Exile, CEO and founder of music collaboration technology startup Endlesss

Last week, Spotify announced the refurbished, revamped, new version of Locker Room called Greenroom. This marks the music giant’s first attempt at creating a social media platform that allows users to host and engage in discourse and conversations about entertainment, music, sport, social issues, personal experiences, and so on. Much like Clubhouse.

Social audio is a relatively new fad that companies haven’t been that interested in until recently; namely, until the start of the pandemic. Social audio is based on meaningful experiences and engagement; the most powerful thing about the concept is the relationships that it lets people build. However, whilst incredibly impactful and rising in popularity, it’s not an industry in its own right, so keeping a long-term user base is the challenge. 

“companies that will win biggest from social audio will provide asynchronous social features…”

While real-time social audio is currently the best networking opportunity in town, the communities which have sprung up around the feature often migrate to asynchronous social platforms such as Discord, Whatsapp, Telegram, or Twitter to organize, collaborate and build. The companies that will win biggest from social audio will provide asynchronous social features as well. This may be a challenge for Spotify as the platform majors on media consumption rather than social interaction, although Greenroom might serve as a high-engagement on-ramp for podcast listenership.

Clubhouse launched in March 2020 and essentially marked the beginnings of the rapid growth of social audio as a channel. It has since become one of the most popular social platforms out there, which rapidly encouraged many major players to follow suit, such as the likes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, alongside the growth and emergence of new and existing platforms including Discord, Stereo, and Fireside Chat. 

“Spotify holds one, very distinctive advantage over Clubhouse”

The pandemic has undoubtedly brought on a new wave of social audio and podcasting as a result of everything moving to digital in the space of a week, and so, while Clubhouse has been thriving, Spotify holds one, very distinctive advantage over Clubhouse. Even before the launch of Greenroom, its model has always been based on social audio. Of course, it has had to compete with all the other apps out there, but Spotify already owns Anchor and created immediate hype with the launch of Greenroom. 

Historically, whilst rapidly evolving and increasing in popularity at a staggering rate, Clubhouse is not without its challenges. There has been a long ongoing conversation about the privacy of its members, especially at the beginning of its launch where media coverage was rife with concerns about its data flaws. Also, there has been a lot of dispute around how the app is moderated, particularly after many incidents of abuse towards marginalized groups of people in the rooms. This forced the company to roll out a new blocking feature so that this could be prevented, though this is still proving to be slightly troubling, as the blocking system itself seems to be targeting those who haven’t necessarily done anything to warrant it. 

“Greenroom appears to be fixing a lot of these problems Clubhouse is facing

Spotify Greenroom appears to be fixing a lot of these problems Clubhouse is facing; unlike Clubhouse, Spotify Greenroom uses AI to moderate and block hateful content posted on its platform, and has explicitly outlined the kind of content which will be prohibited, including content that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics”. Whilst the platform is new, and how effective its regulation is unclear, it still seems to be taking big strides in front of its rival Clubhouse and how it regulates its own platform in comparison. 

Whilst each platform has its nuances, it’s undeniable that each and every one of them must grapple with ways to stay afloat, and execute its plan as quickly as possible in order to do so.

Clubhouse has the advantage of being well-established, already incredibly popular, and with a solid foundation, but Spotify Greenroom is right there, is on the horizon, ready to take the crown from its predecessor.

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