June 9, 2023

Audio creators are a new breed of influencer that emerged from the meteoric rise of the audio-only chat app Clubhouse. Together, they attract millions of weekly listeners and build online followers. Now that Clubhouse is booming and other social apps like Twitter are looking to succeed, they are teaming up and partnering with big brands.

Audio Collective is a result of the audio boom. The company, which announced its founding on Thursday, offers event planning, branding advice as well as support and community for developers working in this field. The founders also plan to campaign for stricter moderation guidelines, better insights and performance metrics, and monetization tools in the clubhouse.

The 40 founding members of the company are creators themselves; They host talk shows, meet-ups, discussion groups, and other high profile events, and command many millions of followers. Unlike podcasters who produce edited shows, they perform for an interactive live audience, much like streamers.

The work of the audio collective will build on Clubhouse’s internal Creator pilot, announced in December, which aims to increase the app’s power users. It also offers services that the platform does not currently offer, e.g. B. the support of brands in the production of events and the assignment of these to the developers in the clubhouse.

It does this as the clubhouse nears the end of an explosive first year. According to analytics firm Apptopia, the app has been downloaded more than 4.7 million times since it was launched last April. The company raised more than $ 100 million in funding in January and valued it at $ 1 billion. Given the rapid rise of Clubhouse, companies like Twitter and Facebook are trying to reproduce the success of the audio-only format on their own platforms. (A Clubhouse representative did not respond to a request for comment.)

Industry experts view interactive audio as an exciting area that will spawn a new wave of stars – and a whole new set of considerations. “Never before have so many brands, entrepreneurs, influencers and ordinary people had instant access to their most engaged audiences,” said Adam Davidson, author of The Passion Economy. “Like any medium of transformation, it offers new possibilities and new terrible pitfalls and requires thoughtful, constant guidance. The Audio Collective is exactly that guide. “

“The clubhouse will create the most powerful and impactful influencers of our time as the voice is the most powerful human communication tool,” said Farokh Sarmad, 26, a Montreal entrepreneur and audio creator who is not part of the audio collective, but has started forming its own groups on clubhouse.

Talent scouts, agents and marketing managers search the clubhouse for undiscovered developers and opportunities. “We were able to instantly match partners we met on Clubhouse with Fortune 10 brands,” said Lindsay Fultz, senior vice president of partnerships at Whalar, an influencer marketing agency. The developers of the Audio Collective have worked with brands such as Showtime, Milk Bar and Cash App.

“Each and every one of us receives multiple inquiries from brands, agencies, studios, and organizations,” said Francesca Hogi, 46, a Los Angeles creator with over 323,000 followers at the clubhouse. “We are approached by other developers who see that we are able to build community and innovate and who want to work with us.”

The founding members of Audio Collective produce all types of content. Mir Harris produced a performance of the Disney musical “The Lion King” in the clubhouse. Leiti Hsu is hosting a popular dinner party variety show. Kat Cole, a former executive director, hosts rooms that focus on leadership.

Rembrandt Flores, founder of AgentC, a talent and branding agency for clubhouse developers, said his phone had “rang” since his agency started less than a week ago. “It reminds me of the days when Instagram just came out, all of these agencies were born out of it,” he said. “Now there is this new medium. We’re tired of photos and videos so it’s very refreshing that you don’t have to worry about this in the clubhouse. It’s so liberating. This new group of influencers will rule the neighborhood. “

As Clubhouse continues to add millions of users each month, it has been grappling with complaints of hate speech, harassment, and misinformation. “One of the things we are collectively committed to is setting the tone of the clubhouse community,” said Ms. Hogi. The group plans to push the company to use sophisticated moderation and security tools.

“We want people to have safe and good experiences on the platform, and we continue to be the strongest proponents of stronger trust and security tools,” said Catherine Connors, 49, a Los Angeles audio creator.

Some developers feel that the app undercuts them. When a person signs up for Clubhouse, they will be asked to follow the users suggested by the app. Many of these users are investors in the app and its close associates. The goal of Audio Collective is to encourage creative voices.

Mr Sarmad said other collaborative groups and collectives had appeared in the clubhouse, especially among younger users. “Just as Viners got together seven years ago and Instagrammers got together to grow and work together, this is what happens behind the scenes at Clubhouse,” he said.

“We’re trying to forge alliances to dominate the app in a good way,” he added. “Everything people see in the rooms is a result of what happened days before in the back channels. All form collaboration groups. “

The developers at Audio Collective see themselves as part of a larger shift towards independent work, following in the footsteps of Instagram influencers, YouTubers, TikTok stars, and Twitch streamers. “We see ourselves as building on the broader media and creative landscape,” said Ms. Connors.

“Not only do we want to model a model of how audio can be transformed,” she said, “but also advance the creator-driven culture so that that culture isn’t influenced by the platforms and technologists, but the artists and creatives and talents. “