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“We found that the voice is the most personal way to reach people.”
—-Nikhyl Singhal, SayNow founder
SAYNOW PHONES HOME
New Phone Community Targets Fan Bases for Interactive Transactions for Jonas Brothers, Soulja Boy Others
When Silicon Valley entrepreneur Nikhyl Singhal, two successful start-ups already under his belt, launched a “next generation voice system” that would build “phone communities,” he had no idea he’d be in the music business almost three years later with SayNow.

“We found musicians began to adopt it as a highly effective way to communicate with their fans,” says Singhal. “To be able to record one message and have it appear on one million people’s phones simultaneously.”

SayNow’s client list has now grown to over 30k, with not just musicians, but comics, actors, athletes, even politicians, who simply give their unique number out to fans and respond to them with personalized messages, generating more than 4 million individual fans to call in. The company, which charges nothing to bands or its fans for the service, makes its income through sharing in all revenues, including tickets and merchandise, ringtones and advertising.

Senior Director of Business Development Brian Mandler, a veteran of stints as a promotion exec for Warner Bros. Records and doing strategic marketing for Capitol Records, immediately saw the potential in Singhal’s vision.

“This was the first time I’d seen something that was a completely artist-driven communication, and not just a set-it-and-forget-it template,” he says.

Early relationships with artists like the Jonas Brothers and Soulja Boy showed that SayNow could take newcomers and help them achieve superstardom. After Soulja Boy announced his number on BET’s 106 & Park, he generated 20k new subscribers and received nearly 3 million messages from fans.

“We enjoy working with the up-and-coming artists because they have a fire in their belly,” says Brian. “They’re early adopters, not afraid to try new ways of reaching their audience.”

In the past, Omarion used SayNow to call back a fan on Valentine’s Day, Tyrese and Steve Wonder left a message from backstage at one of Stevie’s shows while the Jonas Brothers asked fans to bring bagels to one of their upcoming shows. Janet Jackson announced her tour and gave out her SayNow number live on the Ellen DeGeneres show, generating tens of thousands responses.

“We found that the voice is the most personal way to reach people,” says Nikhyl. “Fans know it’s the artist. They’re smart that way. It’s something you can’t do with a text message or a MySpace site.”

Singhal explains that the true worth of SayNow is in the community, and a 10-40% click through rate on all offers.

“Consider how valuable it would be to have cell phone numbers of all your fans in an opt-in relationship,” he says. “That’s an impressive way to sell tickets and merchandise. This benefits everyone, from record label to artists to fans, commercial sponsors and advertisers.”

For Nikhyl, who has a history of turning “retro” ideas into future success, targeting the cellphone was a “no-brainer,” especially when streamed video, downloadable songs and other content becomes readily available.

“SayNow allows the artist to cultivate that relationship with their fans on a device they carry with them 24/7,” he says. “Let’s pave these roads together, and if it works, we all win. I’ve always said, ‘Build a compelling community and there will be endless value.’”

 

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