Spotify launches Greenroom to rival Clubhouse

Spotify's new Greenroom audio app offers a rival to Clubhouse
3 min read
17 June, 2021
Social media app Clubhouse enjoyed rapid fame in the Middle East in early 2021. However, as downloads for the app fall rapidly, a new live audio app comes on to the digital scene - Greenroom from Spotify.
Like Clubhouse, Greenroom operates as a live podcast and allows users to have frank conversations in different rooms [Getty]

Spotify launched its new live audio app Greenroom on Wednesday to rival social media app Clubhouse. 

Like Clubhouse, which found rapid fame in the Middle East in early 2021, Greenroom operates like a live podcast allowing users to have real-time conversations in different virtual rooms. 

The Swedish music streaming giants made the app available on IOS and Android in over 135 markets globally at the launch. 

“This move provides yet another opportunity for creators of all types to connect with their fans more deeply and meaningfully,” said Spotify in a statement on their website

The app is a revamp of Locker Room, which was created by Betty Labs and acquired by Spotify earlier this year. Now, the  menu of topics is much larger from the original Sport-dominated content, including culture, music and entertainment. 

Many of the app’s features echo Clubhouse, which was launched in March 2020. Created by a San Francisco-based company, Clubhouse enjoyed widespread popularity in the Middle East as a virtual space for unmuted and unfiltered conversations. According to Sensor Tower, a mobile app analytics company, Clubhouse was downloaded 1.1 million times in the Middle East from January to May 2021, this accounted for 7 percent of downloads globally.

However, popularity for Clubhouse has fallen rapidly recently, with global downloads dropping from 2.7 million in March to 922,000 in April, according to Sensor Tower. This fall can be attributed to waning popularity for the app as people come out of lockdown. It also coincides with authorities in places like Oman and Jordan cracking down on users. 

In Jordan, for example, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are blocking access to the app, so most users can only access Clubhouse via a VPN. It is still not clear who exactly is giving the orders to block access, according to the Jordan Open Source Association, an organisation that monitors and defends digital rights. 

In Brief

Pundits have speculated that a new virtual chat app could fill the space left by Clubhouse. 

Marc Own jones, assistant professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University with expert knowledge on how technology is used for liberation and surveillance in the Middle East, said that Clubhouse’s “honeymoon period” is over and the app "is coming to an end.” 

However, he speculated that “Clubhouse was a probably a little paradigm shift on social media” and the conversations on it could “have long-lasting impacts that aren’t necessarily easy to quantity.” 

The key differences between Clubhouse and Greenroom are that conversations are recorded by Spotify for monitoring purposes and can be made available as a podcast afterwards. 

Greenroom also has a clear code of conduct policy on Spotify’s website that lists what will not be tolerated on the app. This includes “hate content, inciting or glorifying violence, promoting self-harm and harassing others.” 

On Thursday morning a room appeared on Greenroom UK with over 100 people called “Clubhouse vs Greenroom”. 

“Clubhouse is dead,” said the host of the room. “It died a while ago and it is not coming back.”