What is SayLa in 2–5 words?
Slack for musicians
What motivated you to start the company?
After I was introduced to the music industry and saw the position artists and songwriters were in, I decided to start building a platform that could give them other options than what the music industry was currently offering. Pub deals, dev deals, or label deals are not the only pathways to success, but currently the industry offers very little structure for anything else unless you have the wherewith-all to build the structure yourself. SayLa endeavors to change that.
How did you come up with the brand name SayLa?
Around the time I was dreaming up the concept, I was also fascinated with the Hebrew word Selah. It’s a word from the Psalms with a little controversy surrounding its meaning. One of the possible meanings is “to stop and reflect or pause.” As it pertains to songwriting and music in general, this word struck me. Isn’t that what we do as songwriters…pause and reflect until we find something that needs to be said. Then we put language and melodies to that concept we found and call it a song. But, I didn’t like the spelling of Selah, so I changed it, and, honestly, it’s a little corny, but SayLa was really me trying to form a pun…”say la”…. like the musical term “la.” Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.
What didn’t exist that prompted you to create this platform?
There wasn’t a space that offered business tools where artists could build themselves up as a business. Before I started, we were using multiple platforms to write songs. We used notes and google docs as lyric sheets (some still use paper…to each their own I guess), we used voice memos on our iPhone to record our rough ideas, we used every messenger available (Insta, FB messenger, text, email…) to communicate, and we didn’t make split sheets ever. So, for my MVP, I pulled all of that together and put it into one space. Now, everyone has access to the recording whether they recorded it on their iPhone or not. In the same way, everyone has access to the lyrics via SayLa’s Lyric Sheet meaning the other writers are not dependent on one member to send them the lyrics after-the-fact (which always leads to reminders and asking twice), and the writers on the song have a fully executed split sheet allocating their portion of the splits meaning no one should ever get screwed…ever!
SayLa’s CTO Dawei Li is a graduate from Vanderbilt University. During his time as a student, he co-founded a company called Aloa, a tech startup that is striving to make software development easy and more accessible for everyone. Since he graduated from Vanderbilt in 2017, he has been working with Aloa full-time and has collaborated with 20 different startups all over the country on over 30 different software development projects.
What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?
We are musicians ourselves, so we understand what’s needed. But more than that, my team wants to help. We want to make a better music industry. SayLa as a collaboration/project management platform is just the beginning!
In a few sentences, what do you offer to whom?
SayLa offers a space for anyone involved in taking a song from conception to pitch to efficiently and seamlessly collaborate with each other using SayLa’s project management tools (automated split sheets, dashboard with all your songs, toolbox / command center with capability to keep audio, lyrics, and communications in one place). We are the virtual space where songwriting happens!
What admin functions does SayLa take care of for artists?
Automated split sheets are probably the biggest admin feature we offer, but SayLa also makes the whole songwriting process more organized. SayLa operates almost like a command station. All the tools needed to organize the audio, the lyrics, even video (within the chat feature) are in one place. Also, SayLa connects everyone in a way that makes sense so that the writing process happens as efficiently as possible. What if you don’t finish the write? You are out of time or just dead tired. Do you put down filler? You could, or you could go home, wait for inspiration to hit, and as soon as it does, log it into the project in SayLa with your phone or laptop. Everyone invited to the project will be able to see what you added, and you don’t have to wait till everyone can meet again to make one simple change. It takes a different paradigm, but it’s a better paradigm.
Lyrics, voice memos, group messages — when you collaborate does each person need to have the same individual storage plan or would an individual just be accessing what’s on a server?
Good question. So, storage is actually referring to the uploading and downloading. That’s one of the biggest hard costs for a platform like SayLa…at least at this point…but basically AWS (Amazon Web Services) uses an elastic pricing model that essentially charges us based on how much data our users are uploading and downloading from the platform. The free plan gives the user 5GB of storage (uploading and downloading). Though some audio and video files can get large, if the users are dealing mostly in mp3’s (which tend to be smaller files), they’d have to write an insane amount of songs to break 5GB.
Putting together a team, building a brand, earn money — how would new artists/bands find others to work with through this platform?
Currently the user will be able to find other users on the platform with the other user’s email or their SayLa account name.
Where do you think your growth will be next year?
We are expecting to reach all of Nashville and have a solid presence in LA, Atlanta, Austin, NY, and other major music cities.
What is the biggest risk facing your company?
Our biggest risk is that our target market (songwriters, artists, producers, etc.) won’t use the platform. That we built something they didn’t want or need.
What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
User acquisition, refining, and development. Even though the platform is basically free, it’s been incredibly hard to get people to adopt it. I guess habits really do die hard. So, our goal is to find our early adopters, engage them to help us refine the platform and work out all the bugs, then continue spreading the word to find enough users to justify adding more features to the platform.
If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?
Nothing nearly as important.
Contact SayLa: firstname.lastname@example.org