Instagram is increasing its emphasis on group livestreaming as the established social media giant and its rivals seek to better compete with surging newcomer Clubhouse.
Instagram users will now be able to use so-called Live Rooms to broadcast with as many as three other people. The new feature is meant to “open up more creative opportunities, such as starting a talk show or a podcast, hosting a jam session or co-creating with other artists, hosting more engaging Q&As…or just hanging out with more of their friends,” a company spokesperson says.
Instagram’s previous livestream function only allowed two people to stream together.
While Live Rooms are limited to a small number of active participants for now, they represent a significant move on Instagram’s part. Its livestream function has been widely used and widely popular during covid lockdown. The DJ D-Nice, for instance, has hosted parties on it, attracting A-List names such as Drake, Rihanna, Oprah and Michelle Obama, among others.
In another example, Justin Dior Combs, son of the rapper Sean Combs put together a widely popular Instagram Live-based strip club, an event that climbed far enough into pop culture consciousness for a mention in Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion’s Savage remix.
More existentially, Instagram faces rising pressure from Clubhouse, a new social network that reached a billion-dollar valuation in less than a year. Instagram’s Live Rooms are a less-than-subtle copy-cat response to Clubhouse’s main feature.
Clubhouse has Rooms, too, though its are audio based, and they’ve proven a hit during lockdown, partly because the invite-only app carefully curated its early user base, collecting a mix of people from the tech and entertainment elite.
Clubhouse’s Rooms are much more expansive, allowing more active participants and making it easier to join as a speaker during a session. But this is unlikely the last iteration of Live Rooms from Instagram if it proves popular. It has been warring with TikTok with its user-generated Reels feed since last summer and has rolled out several updates to it, including an increase to how long a Reel can last.
Instagram is not alone in its race to beat back Clubhouse. Within the same company, Facebook is reportedly working on a Clubhouse competitor. And Twitter has already launched Spaces, collaborative, audio-based groups that (you guess it) function quite like a Room on Clubhouse.
On Instagram, users will be able to directly earn money from Live Rooms. Soon after livestreaming took off during quarantine, the company added the ability for users to digitally tip broadcasters through purchasing in-app goods called Badges. Live Rooms will have the same gratuity mechanism, an important consideration for creators concentrating on turning their social media fame into a payday and wondering which app offers the best path toward getting paid.