Chicago-Based Songfinch Allows Users to Create Songs for Loved Ones
Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Chicago’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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How do you tell someone you love them, care about them or that they are important to you? Do you do it will a card, a call or flowers? What about a song? With Songfinch, a Chicago-based startup, getting a professional song commissioned is now attainable.
Songfinch is an online marketplace that aggregates independent artists that can be booked by users to create personal and customized songs for a loved one. The marketplace has over 1,200 artists and after finding the right one, customers can contact them with their request. Songfinch’s main product, one song with two verses and a chorus, costs $200. Customers can allow include add-ons like uploading the song onto streaming services, a photo slideshow, printed lyrics or CDs and vinyls.
“Songfinch wants to be the place in which all barriers to entry to the music business are erased. You can participate and create, regardless of skill level or talents, by leveraging these incredible artists [and a] community that can bring your ideas and stories and thoughts to life,” John Williamson, CEO of Songfinch, told Built In. “Ultimately ... it’s consumer and artists collaboration creating new art.”
Because the songs being commissioned through Songfinch are very personal, the company takes pride in hand-selecting the artists that it allows on the marketplace. According to Williamson, Songfinch has a 96 percent customer satisfaction rate and, it in large part, is because it picks artists who are talented in telling stories through their music.
“Our average orders like $250 and you’re putting in your credit card off trust built that you’re going to get something that you really love, and it’s going to move you,” Williamson said.
The people that purchase these songs aren’t rabid music fans, Williamson. More often than not, it’s somebody that wants to make their mom cry happy tears or someone who wants to give a meaningful gift.
“It feels like you worked weeks on it when you really worked 15 minutes sharing your story and artists put in the work,” Williamson said.
Songfinch wants to be the place in which all barriers to entry to the music business are erased. You can participate and create, regardless of skill level or talents, by leveraging these incredible artists [and a] community that can bring your ideas and stories and thoughts to life.”
At first, Williamson questioned how big the market was for customized experiences. When he came up with the idea for Songfinch, services such as Cameo were not as big as they are now and he questioned whether the idea for his startup would be successful. But, he kept pushing forward.
Songfinch was founded in 2016 by Williamson, a former musician and founder of an indie music label. In one of his first ventures into tech, Williamson created a similar marketplace with a business-to-business focus that connected musicians to large companies in need of custom music for commercials or advertisements. He eventually sold part of that company to Coca-Cola in 2011. From there, Williamson worked at an incubator where adopted his B2B model to create Songfinch, a direct-to-consumer marketplace.
For Williamson, the switch from musician to startup CEO was a smooth one despite both occupations being on opposite ends of the spectrum.
“You’re taking your own art and you’re trying to climb to the top of a mountain and shout and let everybody know that it exists. So, I think it’s a relatively smooth transition,” Williamson said about his journey into tech. “There are some differences along the way, like raising venture capital. There’s no real way to learn it unless you to just dive in and start doing it.”
Songfinch recently closed a $5 million seed round. The round was led by Chicago VC firm Corazon Capital and included investments from notable musicians such as The Weekend and Doja Cat.
“The funding is going to allow us to get into some other areas that I believe we’re naturally going to move into and I’ve been pretty bullish around. I think the personalized songs for gifts is a gigantic market,” Williamson said.