When the pandemic hit, Ellen Hodges, a Starbucks barista at the time, and her railroad-employed fiancé Omayya Atout had an a-ha moment regarding their futures. The two were bandmates since 2019, and with a wedding on their mind, they were naturally thinking about music and what others in the music industry could do to make ends meet.
Then a friend asked if he could pay them to write a song just for his wedding.
Songlorious, a business that matches songwriting musicians with people who want a personalized song, was born.
Today, the now-married couple has 160 musicians connected to the marketplace they've created and has paid them about $700,000 to date. They've also created more than 60 advertising jingles for small businesses, and they employ three people.
While the business has taken off, Atout said they are ready to take things even further and look forward to appearing on the reality television show "Shark Tank," where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of potential investors. They will appear on the reality show at 8 p.m. EDT Friday on ABC.
"It's all about getting it to the next level and looking for people who know how to do that," Atout said. "We want to expand and scale up and have a professional business."
"A mainstream business," Hodges added.
What makes Songlorious appealing, according to the couple, is that the musician/songwriter creates a song unique to the customer. The idea is not necessarily to write a song that others might eventually like (though it could happen) but to write one that is very specific to the person or event.
Customers can go on the website, see a menu of songwriters and hear examples of their work. They can choose among musical genres also. Then they fill out a form that will include things they want the song to include, such as a specific event or even a lyric.
Examples given on the Songlorious website include a teenager who wanted to ask a girl to prom. The teen writes, "Pretty, long red hair, we're in high, we met by the lockers, she's into video games, we ate Indian food on our first date (I'm also a girl)."
Another wanted the line "sunset with you is the best sunset for two" written into the song.
A 30-second jingle costs $45 while a 1-minute song is $90, a 2-minute song is $145 and a 3-minute song is $195.
Both Hodges and Atout said they were overwhelmed almost immediately by the number of requests for songs that they got, and they jokingly said they hadn't really looked at a calendar and factored in the number of holidays that occur each year.
The business was created in November 2020 and Hodges said the idea took off so quickly, "we had to hire a bunch of emergency songwriters."
"And, then, just when we started to relax, here comes Valentine's Day," Atout said. "And, then Mother's Day."
Reminded that those dates come around every year at regular intervals, they both laughed.
"We just weren't expecting the amounts [of orders]," he said.
Valentine's and Mother's Day were equal in the number of orders with Christmas close by, they said.
The couple applied to be on "Shark Tank" in March and were flown to Los Angeles for one day in July.
Contractual obligations prevent them from discussing details of the show or how they fared, but Atouta said, "They really are meeting you for the first time. They know your names, but that is it. And, it's a real conversation in there where they are investigating if they will tell you yes or no."
They also said it was a great experience.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.