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Clubhouse vs. Amp: The Struggles and Challenges of Amazon’s Audio-Focused Platform

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Gherardo Fiorenzo
Gherardo Fiorenzo is an Italian author with a unique perspective shaped by his experiences in Italy and the US. His thought-provoking articles, short stories, and reviews explore the intersections of language, identity, and culture.

Clubhouse: A Brief Overview

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many people were confined to their homes and isolated from others, Clubhouse emerged as a popular audio-focused social platform. It offered users an opportunity to connect with millions of others and engage in conversations about various topics.

Following Clubhouse’s success, other tech giants such as Twitter, Spotify, LinkedIn, and Meta developed their own audio-focused products, hoping to replicate that success. Joining the race was Amazon, which introduced Amp, a platform allowing users to create live “radio shows” where they could act as DJs, take callers, and play songs from Amazon’s licensed catalog without any fees.

Amp’s Challenges

Although Amazon had high hopes for Amp, documents obtained by GamingIdeology revealed that the app struggled to gain traction. By the time Amp launched in March 2022, Clubhouse had already established dominance in the market.

To differentiate itself, Amazon provided access to a vast music catalog right from the start. Users could sign in with their Amazon accounts and stream their favorite songs while also engaging in discussions about sports, pop culture, or any other topic. Additionally, Amazon announced several exclusive shows hosted by artists, radio hosts, sportscasters, and well-known personalities like Nicki Minaj, Tefi Pessoa, and Guy Raz.

Despite these efforts, Amp fell short of its goals. By late October, it had around 200,000 monthly active users, compared to Clubhouse’s peak of over 1 million. The number of first-time iOS app installs also declined significantly during this period, and engagement with Amp shows dropped by 51%.

Competition and Declining Interest

Amp’s struggle to gain traction reflects both the decreasing interest in “social audio” platforms and the intense competition in the market. Analysts suggest that scalability issues and the lack of monetization options have contributed to this decline.

Notably, other audio-focused platforms like Clubhouse, Facebook Live (formerly Meta’s Live Audio Rooms), and Spotify Live also faced challenges and experienced drops in downloads and listener engagement.

Amp’s Limited Expansion and Marketing Efforts

Amp’s expansion beyond the U.S. has been slow, possibly due to music licensing requirements in other countries. Amazon has also made little effort to promote Amp across its other platforms, such as its storefront and Alexa devices. Internal data shows that only a small fraction of active Amp listeners are Alexa users.

This lack of growth has led some headline creators, including Halsey, Travis Barker, and Big Boi, to leave the platform. In an attempt to retain creators and audiences, Amazon launched a fund to reward engaging shows, although details about the program’s budget remain unclear. Unfortunately, around the same time, Amazon laid off half of Amp’s staff.

The Future of Amp?

Given Amp’s current state, it is uncertain where the platform will go from here. It is clear, however, that Amp fell far short of its goal of driving Amazon account sign-ups. According to documents, Amp only managed to generate at most a few thousand new Amazon accounts each month.

Amazon responded to these statistics by stating that they were inaccurate. A spokesperson emphasized that Amp had seen rapid growth since its beta launch and mentioned exciting plans for the future product roadmap.

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