The Clubhouse audio chat forum on Wednesday opened its virtual rooms to all comers, ending an invitation-only mode that was a coveted ticket during the pandemic.

Clubhouse did away with its waiting list, saying anyone could join using smartphones powered by Apple or Google-backed Android software.

“We’re thrilled to share that Clubhouse is now out of beta, open to everyone, and ready to begin its next chapter,” founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth said in a blog post.

“Everyone in the world should have access to meaningful conversations.”

Since making its debut a year ago, Clubhouse has grown to hosting half a million “rooms” daily, with the average listener spending more than an hour a day in the online community, according to Davison and Seth.

“We suspect there will be many more ups and downs as we scale, and competition from the large networks will be fierce,” the founders said.

Spotify last month launched a live audio app called Greenroom, the Swedish online music streaming giant’s answer to Clubhouse. The rival platforms allow users to join live discussions or to host their own.

Everyone in the world should have access to meaningful conversations

Along with podcasts, social audio has taken off over the past year with the San Francisco-based Clubhouse leading the way. Since December, Clubhouse has been downloaded over 18 million times, according to the site AppMagic.

Other tech giants have also jumped into the live audio sector with Twitter launching Spaces in December and Facebook hosting Live Audio Rooms.

Questions remain, however, over the ability of the various platforms to monetize their content. They also have to compete with Discord, which has been offering live audio since 2015 and has more than 140 million users although it has been more focused on video game players.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that the internet titan will pour $1 billion into programmes for creators of popular content at the social network through 2022. The announcement showed Facebook ramping up efforts to attract and keep creators as it competes with platforms such as TikTok, Clubhouse and Google-owned YouTube.

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