Anyone who’s been in a relationship for a few years knows that Valentine’s Day can start to feel repetitive. Flowers. Chocolate. Jewelry. Dinner. Repeat for eternity.
But Chicago startup SongFinch wants to spice up your Valentine’s Day—or any gift-giving occasion—with its service that lets you make personalized, one-of-a-kind songs for your special someone.
SongFinch connects users with songwriters who turn someone’s personal stories and feelings into unique, professional-quality songs. Users can make songs one of two ways: They can browse songs that have a pre-recorded chorus and instrumentals, then answer a set of questions that help a songwriter craft unique verses. The second option allows customers to build a song completely from scratch by picking the mood, genre and style, along with answering questions that help artists make a totally personalized track. Those options cost $99 and $199, respectively, and are turned around within seven days.
SongFinch CEO and Co-Founder John Williamson said the startup works with more than 250 songwriters who use the platform to earn additional income. Songwriters make 50% of each transaction.
“People spend $500 billion a year on gifts,” Williamson said. “I have no doubt we have the most personal, most unique gift that exists.”
The gifting industry is no doubt massive, but the number of people willing to pay for a personalized song is a little harder to quantify. Part of the problem, Williamson explained, is the space is so new that most people aren’t aware that a product like SongFinch even exists.
“Most companies never hope to have competition,” Williamson said. “But there are times we sit around here and we’re like, man, one of the best things that could happen for us is if other companies popped up in the space, just to amplify this message of personalized songs.”
Williamson said revenue has topped six figures since SongFinch launched in late 2016, and some of the artists on its platform have created more than 100 songs as they use the service for supplemental income. The company has found some marketing channels to be particularly effective, like podcast advertising, and SongFinch just released its first regional television ad ahead of Valentine’s Day.
“We definitely feel like we’ve proven something out,” he said. “Now it’s time to spend from a marketing standpoint and really grow and get people to understand what this thing is.”
Down the road, SongFinch plans to incorporate visuals, such as images that can be turned into slideshows, and deliver songs as video files that help customers share the gift on social media. It has also been testing a tipping feature where users can give artists additional cash for a job well done.
Like any two-sided marketplace, SongFinch relies on the growth and quality of artists to grow its user base, similar to how Uber needs drivers. Aside from the extra income they can earn, SongFinch is helping songwriters connect with fans in a new and unique way, Williamson explained.
“Once you as an artists tell somebody’s story, or create a song for somebody’s mother who has two weeks to live, you’re not just another artist to them,” he said. “You’re somebody unbelievably special, and they’re going back and examining your whole catalogue and seeing you at shows when you come to town.”