Are You On The Invite-Only Social Platform Clubhouse Yet?
Maurice “Moetown” Lee is an entertainment consultant living in Atlanta. He’s also the co-producer of ONE Musicfest, and a longtime music industry manager who has represented clients like Eightball & MJG among others.
Earlier this week, Moetown joined Clubhouse, the new voice-based social app that’s still in private beta. It didn’t take him long to see the value of the platform.
During Moetown’s “welcome party” — sort of an onboarding chat where people are greeted, connected to new/existing friends, and given tips on how it all works — some very influential people stopped in to say hi, including Epic Records CEO Sylvia Rhone.
There was even a moment when someone basically was offered a marketing gig with a popular plant-based Atlanta restaurant chain. It’s made Moetown want to use the platform to promote artists he works with, and to provide mentorship to listeners trying to get started in business.
“It’s crazy,” Moetown said in a phone interview with The Churn. The possibilities of it… sheesh.”
Right now, a lot of people are figuring out what’s so special about Clubhouse, and realizing its vast potential. But because the exclusive, invite-only platform is just now starting to bring on influential people in Atlanta, a cultural sea change may be happening.
Today, the number of Clubhouse users is estimated to be around 15,000. But some people, like Isaac Hayes III, an Atlanta native, tech founder and CEO of Isaac Hayes Enterprises, got on a little earlier, and got to see how things have evolved since more Black people are entering the rooms.
“I immediately got it,” Hayes says about joining Clubhouse in mid-August, “Here goes another app that I knew Black culture was gonna come and change.”
Hayes says when he arrived, there was not a great deal of diversity on Clubhouse. He says that he could tell early on that some of what he said on the app was rubbing a lot of Black people the wrong way.
“A lot of clashes I had were people being like ‘What’s he talking about?’ I kind of recognized that was going to be an issue but we just have to work it out.”
There’s also the inherent nature of what it means to be invite-only. The conversations have a way of feeling private, and there seems to be a polite understanding that these chats are sort of off-the-record, yet it’s hard to resist the temptation of wanting to share what’s said with people who haven’t been let into the rooms.
So can Clubhouse continue to be somewhat cliquish and experience the kind of growth it likely wants to have? Is there more appeal in it being a place for special people to hide from the Instagrams, Twitters and Facebooks of the world, or will an air of elitism keep it from being as inclusive as Black Atlanta seems to be pushing it into becoming?
Hayes says his motivation for being on Clubhouse is to make sure his tech companies are in the conversation. You’ll probably see him in your welcome party; Hayes and a few other people (Dr. Roshawnna Novellus of EnrichHER, and Fadia Kader of Instagram) have been responsible for onboarding a great deal of Atlanta folks.
“Ike is definitely the ambassador of that shit,” Moetown says. “He’s in everybody’s welcome room!”
Hayes says he’s also bullish on Clubhouse because social media has created a passive-aggressive existence that drives people to text and DM each other, but not actually talk to each other. And there’s value, Hayes insists, in what Atlanta can do when it comes to bringing in diverse Black voices.
“Being a Black person from Atlanta and who has lived here my whole life, we take shit for granted,” Hayes says.
“When I see through the lens of other Black people’s existence in this country, their lives are funneled through whatever opportunity or permission they get from White people in their workplace: promotions, new job opportunities, their voices being heard.”
It’s the power of Black Atlanta, and what that power can do to move culture in greater ways, Hayes believes, that makes using Clubhouse as a platform such a big opportunity.
“I think about everything in terms of population and politics. The success rate around your success is based on your demographic majority and your political power.
“I didn’t see a lot of people having that perspective, so I said ‘We’ve gotta do something.’ So I’m going to invite people who are from Atlanta, or who understand what Atlanta means. If it’s such a problem, then you guys need to really consider moving.”
But Clubhouse isn’t just about Black people, Hayes insists. “What I’m realizing, there’s a lot that Black people and White people have been wanting to say to each other.”
Clubhouse is that environment, he believes. He hopes this is the beginning of people coming together in ways that feel real.
“It forces you to be you, and stand in your truth,” he says. “You’ve gotta be your authentic self.”