My story of making Songwhip and the decision to take it full-time.
From 2017-2018 I couldn't afford to leave my job. It became demanding and left me with little energy in my evenings/weekends to work on Songwhip. I knew in 2019 I was planning to leave London and needed every penny I had to pay for the move. For this period Songwhip stagnated, I only had time for emergency fixes; it was frustrating but I had no choice.
2019 came and I left London. It was a clean break and seemed like the perfect time to dive back into the project. I wanted to build a product I was proud of and people could _really_ trust. I had some savings left so I re-opened the Songwhip 'office' (my couch) for business once more!
Songwhip's most valuable component is its search engine, and I knew it wasn't good enough; there were just too many incorrect results. If I was going to take the product forward I needed to tackle this; so I spent 3 months rewriting it! When I finished the number of people complaining about incorrect matches dropped and my confidence in this piece rose.
It was now March I was ready to move onto the next stage. I wanted a state-of-the-art app that was solid enough to build _anything_ on top of. Along with this I wanted a brand with attitude and style. I spent three weeks designing the fresh new look and a further 4 months building it.
The whole time I had voices in my head saying "What the fuck are you doing? This is taking too long, stop being a perfectionist! Just ship something that works!". But unfortunately I don't work like that. I enjoy the craft of software and design; building something rock solid, fast and stylish. This takes time!
In August I launched Songwhip Version 2 🎉 Initially I 'soft launched' it (no announcements) with a button on hand to rollback to V1 if anything crazy happened; but all went surprising smoothly! I had some positive feedback from users (the ones who noticed) and squashed all the initial bugs pretty quick.
Now V2 had stabilised it was time to tell people about it. I had been collecting emails via a feedback widget on the site since day one. I had almost 4000 contacts and began writing my first email to them all. I had a draft ready and showed it to my friend Matteo the feedback wasn't great, and he suggested I completely change my delivery.
Up to his point I had never disclosed who I was, I had always communicated behind the guise of the Songwhip brand. I pretended Songwhip was a company, embarrassed to disclose it was only me working from an old MacBook on my couch. But Matteo <-CHECK THIS encouraged me to change my delivery and open up. "People are far more likely to engage with you that a faceless company" he said, and he was right!
I rewrote the email, this time being completely honest about who I was and how Songwhip came about. Matteo approved and I pushed the button! Responses came flooding in and people were so kind, some even donated! 😍 After over 7 months of solid work in isolation, these kind words felt like a million dollars! 😅
The response to V2 was good, but to continue working on Songwhip I needed some income to cover my costs (and pay for me to live!). Demand for Songwhip since V2 was growing and so were my server bills! 💸
I decided to create a dedicated donate page to see if that would help bring in a little money to cover my bills. This resulted a few small donations totalling about $100 a month, a big help, but not enough to cover my server bills, let along my living costs!
It's now been 9 months since I quit my job and began working on Songwhip full-time. I'm proud of what I've achieved, but with savings running low, now is the time to focus on a proper monetisation strategy. I'm not looking to create a million dollar company, just something that can support the project and a basic salary for myself.
I have a few ideas in the pipeline; from as simple as selling Songwhip t-shirts (interested?), to releasing a 'Songwhip Pro' offering targeted specifically at artists and labels.
I'll likely send round a questionnaire to the mailing list (you can subscribe here) to get feedback from you lovely people before I commit to something.
Much appreciation 🙏