Dozens of Clubhouse creators had been anticipating their first sponsorship meeting for months. As the inaugural class of Clubhouse’s “Creator First” program, they were supposed to receive Clubhouse’s help landing sponsorships and turning their shows into a “profitable creative endeavor.”
Six creators from Clubhouse’s creator program say no brands sponsored them before the end of the program, and Clubhouse failed to turn any of their shows into sustainable endeavors, as it advertised it would. None of them plan to keep doing their high-production shows, and many are refocusing their efforts on other platforms, simply because they have a better shot at being compensated for their effort.
The creator program’s troubles suggest bigger potential issues for Clubhouse, which is reportedly valued at $4 billion. If Clubhouse can’t entice brands to put their cash behind its hand-selected, premium content, how will it keep creators on the platform?
It’s unclear how much money Clubhouse is making right now, despite its unicorn status. It has partnerships with some major organizations — like TED and the NFL — but the details of those deals aren’t public. And critically, Clubhouse isn’t directly monetizing the typical live audio rooms its users host.
Creators themselves also have no way to regularly monetize their shows like they do on other platforms. Right now, Clubhouse only offers tipping as a way for hosts to make money off their rooms, and the creators I spoke with say they rarely, if ever, received a tip. There’s no automatic insertion of ads, and sponsors seemingly don’t understand how the platform works even if they might be interested. One creator says they had to spend a significant amount of time educating potential guests and others about how the app functions.
Pham, who arguably had one of the most successful shows from a monetization standpoint, had issues validating sponsorships, given that Clubhouse barely provided analytics. She says she and the other participants received the number of unique listeners, the total number of minutes spent listening, and the number of listeners a room had at its maximum. The creators point out they received no demographic information about their listeners, something brands need and want to see.
Clubhouse and its competitors are pulling from the same playbook. But the key difference between YouTube and Clubhouse is that its platform already generates revenue for lots of people. If Clubhouse wants more creators to join and make high-quality content, it’ll need to get sponsors on board.