Fun Feature Friday: Voice Fan Mail

I learned about this cool Twilio SoundCloud hack and thought it would make a fun feature friday post.

The band Young Guns encourages fans to call them, leave a voicemail (powered by our portfolio company Twilio).

The voicemail gets transcribed and uploaded to our portfolio company SoundCloud, embedded to their site in custom SC player and band calls the person with the best voicemail.

I just called and called and left them a message. I hope I get the call back.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    Calling the fans. Nice community outreach.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Howard Stern did that on Twitter a while back (on New Year’s Eve maybe?) — he asked fans to tweet him their phone numbers and he started calling them off the air just to chat.



        1. fredwilson


        2. Dave Pinsen

          Yup. He also live-Tweeted his old movie Private Parts when it came on HBO one Saturday — a running commentary and Q&A on it. Pretty interesting use of Twitter.

  2. JimHirshfield

    Reverse robo-caller?

    1. John Revay


  3. William Mougayar

    Cool feature. This could also be done by companies. Users can call and say how much they love a product & they can get free offers if selected.Β 

    1. awaldstein

      Good idea but few people have the same connection with just about any company or product that they have with their fave band.Big marketing error is to think that community and dynamic connections happen between all/ most/many product/companies and consumers.Just ain’t so.

      1. William Mougayar

        If you use a product on a daily basis, whatever the product might be, doesn’t it create the potential for a relationship with the company?

        1. awaldstein

          With very few exceptions…not in my experience.If you buy an Armani suit, a 911 Turbo, a cool MiFi, a farm egg pizza at ABC Kitchens that touches you what do you do?You share them out to YOUR networks and sometimes invite the cook, salesperson, whatever to join.Brands enhance us and benefit by that enhancement. Not the other way around.Even pre the web, companies were secondary to products. Doom or Id? Carmen SanDiego or BroderBund? Sound Blaster or Creative?There are corner cases. Not many IMO.

          1. LE

            “companies were secondary to products.”Well the idea is not to connect to the company but to people who work at the company.We connect to Fred, not USV.You connect to a cast member at a show you like, not to the show.To me it’s more of an problem of somehow managing this at scale since of course the CEO of a large company is not in a position to handle even a small amount of personal contact. But there are others who could be anointed by the CEO to serve as a proxy that could convey almost equivalent importance.Certainly you’ve seen the owner of a successful restaurant go table to table to build rapport with diners. Of course the food is what brings people back, but that (“eh how you say?”) “personal touch” is also important.That said I’ve see failures over the years in retail by people who have set up phone numbers in stores with a “call the CEO if you have any problems.”. I haven’t seen that actually work long term and I suspect it’s because you get all the kooks who are unreasonable and want to return something that clearly violates policies. Just my guess.But this can be executed and would be worth a shot. Definitely something someone can put together with twilio and test out fairly easily.@wmoug:disqus I can see engagio putting out viral emails which say “here is who your friends called and what they said”.

          2. awaldstein

            True enough.I truly respect my relationship with this community and Fred. I also admire the brand heights of Apple.But…both are aspirational more than instructive and I’ve stopped and encourage others to stop viewing the market and the possibilities of their own companies through these brand examples.Inspiration is essential. But I’m pushing hard on anyone who using their experience here as generalizable to the market realities. Not that it’s not wondrous and unique but be careful not to extrapolate too much.

          3. William Mougayar

            Interesting thought about the email idea. I would assume that whoever enabled that original call would need to allow the user to share it on social channels as a starting point.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Do you think that people feel a relational connection to brands? What about brand loyalty?(added in that second question via edit — hope you see it)

          5. awaldstein

            I think that brands when they work at all provide some kind of comfort of choice level, from tuna fish to antifreeze.How many brands do we ‘love’? Few. Each of us have their own list.For those, yes, I think they do.

          6. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            I do have a certain sense of loyalty for small numbers of brand. For example, I have a sense of loyalty for ‘dropbox’. I also feel a brand loyalty with GMAIL. Both of these do provide great and essential service on a daily basis. I agree with @rrohan189:disqus example of Harley Davidson. Overall, I think it is a small number of brands for most people but the brands who have this relationship definitely do have a huge potential to capitalize on it

          7. Rohan

            Harley Davidson?What about brands that are status symbols?

          8. awaldstein

            No abstractions allowed ;))If you ride Harley’s most certainly.Which brands do you love personally enough? Not to simply buy this brand of ice cream over another but to market that brand for them like people do for Apple, Porsche, Harley?

          9. Rohan

            Hmm. That’s a good question as usual, Arnold.. :)In my case, 4 come to mind -Apple (bought iStuff for most of the family!)Audible (added 8-10 new paying customers to their roster)Disqus (converted 8-10 blogger friends) x-mini speakers (Bought and gifted to 3-4 friends)But then again, I’m not a massive consumer of “stuff” but tend to talk about the stuff I use (a lot)…

          10. awaldstein

            Good one.Apple and Disqus are on mine.A few wine shops. A few restaurants.

          11. panterosa,

            @awaldstein I have been in front of, by chance, two places you’ve mentioned. Since you mentioned, and I liked look of them, I went in. Enjoyed both.

          12. awaldstein


        2. Dave Pinsen

          Do you have a relationship with the manufacturer of your toilet?

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Maybe if it had a feature that played songs by my favorite bands.

          2. RichardF


          3. Dave Pinsen

            The Japanese have probably already invented one that does that. They’ve been at the forefront of toilet tech.

          4. panterosa,

            Like – I’ll Be Good To You by BJ?

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          6. William Mougayar

            lol. I’m selective with my relationships πŸ™‚ but they would be on the list if they innovated somehow.

        3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. William Mougayar

            I’m getting a lot of push-back on that comment, but many people are suggesting silly things to have a relationship with.



    2. LE

      A great idea. And with audio transcription and/or mechanical voice turks the fact that audio is somewhat inefficient can be overcome. At least relative to the benefit.The mere act of someone taking the time to say something creates a further bond with the company.

      1. William Mougayar

        I think so.

  4. RichardF

    funny transcriptions, at least it proves it’s machine rather than human transcription, wonder what they are using. Also it’d be cool if you could submit a voice message to them directly by the SC app as well as.

  5. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Can this be implemented for all bankers and politicians, please?

    1. RichardF

      what’s the point Carl, they wouldn’t bother listening to the messages πŸ˜‰

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Lol. We speak a different language, anyway πŸ˜‰

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          We may speak different languages … but i suspect politicians across the globe talk the same language.

          1. Wavelengths

            You mean, if their lips are moving?

          2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            yes… their lips move and their tongue comes out like a lizard … and the language has only one alphabet … $ OR one word ‘Money”.

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Re-direct to Recycle bin… clear Recycle bin every 50-pings :-).

  6. Jorge M. Torres

    A fan voicemail site for the AVC community?

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam


    2. Tom Labus


      1. ShanaC


        1. Donna Brewington White

          ha! Don’t understand your aversion to video– you were so cute in the Anniversary vid. Even @domainregistry:disqus thought so.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Tom — I am so laughing at this — remember the last time we tried to get you on video? cc: @rrohan189:disqus

        1. Tom Labus

          I’ve “grown” since then!!

    3. Donna Brewington White

      On the surface that sounds like a fun idea, but it might feel like speaking into a vacuum. So much of the AVC experience is the sense of being part of something interactive even if not in real time. Funny how it feels that way, though.

      1. Jorge M. Torres


    4. fredwilson

      I don’t think we need it

  7. spektor

    This reminds me of the answering machine They Might Be Giants used to have back in the day when answering machines still ran on compact cassettes. Fans could call in and listen to a message from the band. This is pretty much the same thing only in reverse. Tres cool. πŸ™‚

  8. spektor

    This reminds me of the answering machine They Might Be Giants used to have back in the day when answering machines still ran on compact cassettes. Fans could call in and listen to a message from the band. This is pretty much the same thing only in reverse. Tres cool. πŸ™‚

    1. jason wright

      uno, dos, tres cool.

  9. spektor

    This reminds me of the answering machine They Might Be Giants used to have back in the day when answering machines still ran on compact cassettes. Fans could call in and listen to a message from the band. This is pretty much the same thing only in reverse. Tres cool. πŸ™‚

  10. spektor

    This reminds me of the answering machine They Might Be Giants used to have back in the day when answering machines still ran on compact cassettes. Fans could call in and listen to a message from the band. This is pretty much the same thing only in reverse. Tres cool. πŸ™‚

  11. Roger Ellman

    Great idea – spawning all sorts of ideas for me! Left a message…hope the system “understands!” a perfect English accent!!!

  12. Brian M Schopfel

    Glad to see everyone likes the campaign! I’m the co-founder of Eyes & Ears, the agency responsible for it. Really great to see the response and insight from all the comments here. Thanks!

    1. ShanaC

      Really interesting work. Has all the pieces necessary to go viral.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Very interesting,Brian and the possibilities are intriguing. Are you trying this approach anywhere else? Anything besides bands?

    3. Techman

      You’re welcome

    4. fredwilson

      Was the twilio and soundcloud stuff easy to work with?

  13. Rohan

    Fun Friday Quote: ‘A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport.’:-)

    1. andyswan


      1. Rohan


    2. panterosa,

      I saw this in Italian. It used “civilized” and added bikes after public transport.

    3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      u mean New York City? …Yes and the quote sounds really gross.

      1. Rohan

        And why? Maybe I’m missing something..

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          when i read the quote …it sounds like ” A civilized man is not one who wears cloths … but one who goes naked”.What is wrong in being developed and where everyone owns a car, cellphone, computer, and a million dollar in the bank?? What is wrong with that.When you wish for why don’t we wish for GREAT. Why to wish for inferior… after all it is just a wish.It sounds so negative and it brings a ….. feeling to me. Well, that is my opinion.

          1. Rohan

            Interesting you see it that way.I see it as an interesting take on development. And the importance of infrastructure..But hey, it takes all kinds to make up this planet. πŸ™‚ Some people think death is the most negative thing you can mention while others can find the concept uplifting. πŸ™‚

    4. jason wright

      Who are you quoting?

      1. Rohan

        The internet says – Petro Gustavo, Mayor of Bogota..

        1. jason wright

          He forgot about the bicycle, unless he’s including it in “public transport”.

          1. Rohan

            @panterosa:disqus says the original includes bikes πŸ™‚

    5. fredwilson

      I love that quote. I have been checking in on the subway lately to show that I live a developed life in a developed city

      1. Rohan

        I haven’t been to New York,. but atleast in London taking the tube makes sense most of the time.I guess it can’t be all that different.And it has a nice ‘green’/sustainability implication. πŸ™‚

        1. Techman

          I was born in NY.

      2. Techman

        If you ever read the book “Shutdown”, it might want to make you think twice about riding the subway again πŸ™‚

        1. fredwilson

          Then I won’t read it

          1. Techman

            It’s not that bad! I is about computer chips being sabotaged. I’m reading it now. One other book that you should read, though, is Delete All Suspects by Donna Andrews.

  14. Donna Brewington White

    I am very intrigued by the possibilities of audio and I think there are some uses for SoundCloud that haven’t been uncovered…beyond sharing music and sounds with fans and friends. I have thought about sending emails with audio links instead of text, especially for business development. Haven’t tried it out yet.

  15. matthughes

    That’s cool.If I could leave a voicemail for anyone it would be _____ ?

  16. jason wright

    what was the message?

    1. fredwilson

      That I was blogging about their hack

      1. jason wright

        then expect their call.

  17. Techman

    SoundCloud seems pretty cool. How do you embed it here in your posts? Do you have a global script added to your template, or do you have to re edit a post to embed the script or whatever the tag is to call the embed?

    1. fredwilson

      Global script

      1. Techman

        Oh, that makes sense. I’m sure that you would get tired of re-editing posts just to embed the audio version of it.And also, the next time you write about Disqus, make sure that you make an exception for the voice bunny people to pronounce “Disqus” as “Discuss” and not “Discus”. πŸ™‚

  18. John Revay

    Where’s Fred – he seems off grid last day or so.

    1. jason wright…”I wonder if there is an impact or correlation factor stemming from the direct interaction with Fred or related to Fred’s activity in the comments section?” – William.”I wanted to check that πŸ™ data wasn’t usuable” – Shana.

      1. John Revay

        You can always tell w/ Fred is traveling ( plane ride) or is booked for the day…..and then out of now where we go from 150 comments to 225…..Fred not only writes the post…..but then does a great job making sure every one feels apart of the discussion and community.I sometimes watch TV ( cable news or ESPN) and find myself frustrated …as I want to comment on what the person talking is saying…such that if they were able to see a live stream of comments…it may alter or add to what they are saying.

        1. SΓ©rgio Rebelo

          that’s what twitter is for πŸ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      I was booked from 7am to 11pm every day this past week. I am starting to dig out

  19. Adam Hitchcock

    Twillio + sound cloud! awesome!

  20. John Revay

    ” I hope I get the call back”Did they call back yet?I did not make it through all of the comments….so if you already said yes – sorry for re asking the question.

  21. Boogie

    We tried to launch a similar service at but got frustrated because of HTML5 getUserMedia not being implemented in browsers and Flash not being supported on mobile.