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SpeakPipe – Long Gone Are The Days Of The Aloof Rock Star…

by John Oszajca on March 25, 2012

Speak Pipe voice message widgetThere once was a time when being a rock star meant cultivating a JD Salinger-esque persona and keeping the public at arms length. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this to anyone, but years ago I used to have several fake “assistants” to help me deal with my fan mail because I just didn’t think “rock stars” were supposed to be that accessible. Not only was that thinking kinda RIDICULOUS, it’s also dangerous in today’s world of transparency and accessibility.

This should really be your mantra for the rest of the year…

You are not just a musician, you are a channel.

It’s easy to record an album, but the truly “stand out” artists offer much more to their fans than a collection of songs every few years. They offer a stream of engaging content that is not only interesting, but which helps reinforce their brand. This is even more important if you are an independent artist who does not have a main stream barrage of press, TV appearances and blurbs in the tabloids to keep your fans connected.

As independent artists we do this with email, blog posts, social media feeds, youtube, and a million other tools that are now available to us in the social sphere.

And while communicating with our fans is great, getting them to communicate with us is much, MUCH better.

In many circles this is being referred to as cultivating your “tribe”. Reading a blog post is one thing, but a person who takes the time to comment is truly part of your “tribe”, a fan for all intents and purposes. Reply to that comment and you have built a genuine relationship. That relationship might just be the difference between selling music or waiting tables for the rest of your life.

In short, fan engagement is the name of the game. That is how you make the much discussed “1000 Fan Model” actually work.

There are a million tools out there that can help you do that. Blog comments, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and we can’t forget the all powerful email list.

But there is a new tool that I just discovered that I thought was worth sharing. And don’t worry, its free :-)

You may have already noticed it on my site, over there to the far right hand side of the page ====>

It’s called SpeakPipe…

SpeakPipe is essentially a voice messaging widget that allows your fans to leave you voice messages right on your site using their computer’s built in microphone.

This is essentially like blog commenting on steroids…

With voice messaging there is an infinitely greater amount of information being passed on; emotion, intelligence, even demographic information to some extent. Getting a voicemail from a fan is so much more “real” than a blog comment, and getting a voice message back from the artist has the potential to leave an impression that would last for a lifetime.

Because let’s face it, aloof or not, very few of us would be comfortable giving our phone number out to fans. Not only is that perhaps a little too accessible, but it’s also way too time consuming.

But with Speak Pipe you can have fans leave you messages, and you can then respond with a quick message. No personal information is passed on and there is no risk of getting stuck on the phone with a lunatic :-)

As I write this the only option for replying is via email, but I spoke with SpeakPipe recently and am told that they should have the voice reply functionality up within a week or two.

Here’s how SpeakPipe works…

  1. You create a free account here: (It’s 100% free for a basic account but there will soon be a few paid optional upgrades).
  2. You fill out a few options, customize your button and/or link.
  3. Generate your code and place it on your site.
  4. The user sees a tab like the over there on the right hand side of this site and clicks it to leave a message.
  5. When you get a message you receive an email alert and you can then retrieve the message from within your account. You can then reply via email or with a voice message reply (VM reply will be available within a week or so).
  6. Messages can even be downloaded which is great for fan quotes, testimonials and contests.

Speak Pipe can be used with WordPress, Facebook, Tumbler, Blogger, or any other website that accepts custom JavaScript code.

SpeakPipe is VERY new. In fact they are still in beta mode and at the moment they don’t even have the premium accounts available (Changing any day now).

But should you ever want to upgrade to the premium service just follow this link to get 35% off. Speak Pipe upgrades are apparently only going to run $2 -$5 a month so we aren’t talking about much to begin with. And as mentioned, a basic account is FREE.

Note* I have no affiliation with SpeakPipe whatsoever. I just thought it was a cool tool, saw how musicians could benefit from it (I’m using it as we speak), and thought I’d share it with you guys.

Check out SpeakPipe for yourself…

Click the tab to the right hand side of the page and let me know what you think. Have a suggestion for a future blog post? Have a question for the Podcast? Leave me a voice message and let me know how I can help.

Just be sure to leave your email address when prompted so I can get back to you. As mentioned, voice reply won’t be active until some time next week.

And don’t worry, you will be prompted to “send” your voice message once you left it. No click anxiety necessary :-)

If you have any specific questions about SpeakPipe, how to use it, or just general thoughts on how musicians might be able to use something like this, please leave them below.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin April 25, 2012 at 3:35 am

Hi John – speak pipe looks like a great tool for musicans, thanks for spreading the word. I reckon it’s always good to find more ways of making a blog interactive!

Cheers – Robin

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John Oszajca April 26, 2012 at 1:32 am

Hi Robin,

Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I think it’s a really cool way to firm-up that connection with your fans and subscribers.

Let me know if I can ever help with anything.

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Kat Parsons April 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Thanks, as always, for the post, John.

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John Oszajca April 26, 2012 at 1:33 am

My pleasure Kat, thanks.

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mark Pinkus March 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm

HI John, I’ve read over all the comments and the email info you sent us. This industry keeps shifting and twisting and spinning and so on. I like this new voicemail situation. It will be up shortly on my webpage..I’m into experimenting and trying things out. One has to dance with the technological recipes of the music industry. I’ll see how it turns out. Thanks so much for passing this on John to all of us. It’s so cool how things are changing and developing. I’m reading the Dalai Lama’s latest book now and it talks a lot about everything is impermanent, including mountains..they are changing each moment, cause and effect, and this is one angle of the music biz..looking at different angles to build new relationships. I’m into this impermanence..as they say, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty..that’s just how life is and now we have the written word and the spoken word..peace John..many thanks. mark

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John Oszajca March 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comment. Yes, things definitely change all of the time. I’m just trying to make sure I stay on top of the changes so I can pass them along to you guys.

Good luck with your webpage and let me know if I can ever help with anything.

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Wendy Knight March 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hi John,
Thanks for sharing.
The only downside I can see is if this becomes more popular than leaving comments that everyone on your list can read.
I enjoy reading others’ comments, and often learn a lot from them. You mentioned that you could download the voicemail. Would you download it to the comments section so everyone else could read it, or is that a privacy issue?

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John Oszajca March 27, 2012 at 12:22 am

Hey Wendy,

I personally think there will always be a place for both, as is evident in this post. I have received quite a few comments already as well as many voicemails. Different people are comfortable with different mediums.

As for sharing, I’m no lawyer so I can’t give you a precisie answer on that. I would think that as long as you had a notice stating that you would be sharing the voicemails that it would be okay. I do that with my testimonial hotline which is basically the same thing.

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Richard Lee March 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Totally awesome! I’m gonna give this a try, for sure. Thanks, John.

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John Oszajca March 27, 2012 at 12:19 am

Hi Richard,

Great!. Let me know how you make out with it.

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Betty Donelly March 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Hello John .. i think this is a great feature to add to any blog or website .. I just thought i would let you know about a couple other options which are worth investigating …

First is oovoo (www.oovoo.com), which offers a unique 12-way video conferencing solution which not only allows for use via a standalone version but also offers a personalised weblink (a ‘call me’ link, embeddable ‘call me’ buttons or even a complete embeddable video chat room .. So in fact it is not necessary for another user to download the standalone program or even register … instead the whole thing works in a browser environment for that person who uses your invite link or buttons .. The thing which strikes me though is that even though i plastered my ‘call me’ buttons allover .. (Myspace page, my blogs etc ..) .. no one has ever used them to actually call me .. Are my fans so shy? .. i don’t know ..

Another easy to use and wonderful option to interact with my fans is live web TV .. i mean using Ustream or Livestream (and oh yes everything im talking about offers free accounts) it’s possible to broadcast your own TV shows .. i used it in the past and will do so again to perform live from the comfort of my living room .. Both websites offer a dedicated page with your show and a text chat feature .. Also, again, this stuff is all embeddable so you can post the widgets on your blogs or social network like Myspace and your websites … the TV widget, and the text chat widget can be embedded separately, so you can choose to use a one way broadcast approach, which when being alone is very suitable for online concerts, so you can concentrate on your show, or .. you can make a cool appearance in person, on a video player on your websites, blogs or Myspace page while having the possibility to interact using the chat widget.

Hope this was helpful

Betty Donelly

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John Oszajca March 27, 2012 at 12:14 am

Hi Betty,

Thanks for the contribution. They are definitely some resources I’ll have a look into. One thing you may want to try is to actually place a call to action for people to call you, rather than just putting the “call me” buttons up. Sometimes people will convince themselves that it can’t be that easy. Even though it is.

Just give them the additional call to action and you may start getting those calls. I’ve received well over a dozen voice messages via SpeakPipe in just the last 12 hours or so as a result of the simple call to action in this blog post.

Thanks again

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Melissa March 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Reb Shaya makes a lot of good points. I agree that this needs more consideration and study.

Like most tools this is a maybe a kind-of good or extremely bad idea. I am leaning toward this crossing a line that should probably not be crossed, making fan communication way too personal.

Musicians (or anyone for that matter) should be careful about how exactly they engage “directly” with fans. A popular musician friend of mine is currently being stalked (for real invasive call the police style stalking, not cutesy fan obsession) by a fan that feels she “knows” him, largely because he gives over so much of himself in his open-door style communications and is a such a “real person”.

Another consideration is not setting up an unrealistic expectation that you can’t grow beyond. Will you turn your fans off when you start touring on any serious level by not being able to spend enough time online to answer the increasing number of voice/e-mails?

Leaving a comment on a blog sets up an expectation of a direct or community response, the text is shown in public. It is not a back & forth series of private voice mails.

While it is great to offer fans access to your life up to a certain point, there should be a lot more discussion as to how much fans really need to “know” you and/or have access to you. Or even if we should be encouraging such open access to musicians. After all no one expects they should have similar access to actors, fashion models or athletes.

Not saying don’t use this tool – just saying be cautious in evaluating the tools you do choose to use and think thoroughly about the expectations you are setting up for yourself before making a commitment like this.

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Emery March 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

this is very good information, and I will take this and use it
yes I’m understanding being a stars” is a job, and making that
music is a + and keeping your fans happy is a must.

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John Oszajca March 27, 2012 at 12:11 am

Hi Emery,

Thanks for your comment.

Yes, you definitely want your fans to be happy. You also want to be happy yourself and I think this idea of artist accessibility is mutually rewarding to both fans and the artist.

Let me know if I can ever help with anything.

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Mike March 26, 2012 at 11:27 am

Hi John,
Thanks for sharing this. I’ve noticed this ‘voicemail’ feature on another site and figured it was some expensive or confusing option – nice to know it’s neither! It also grabs your attention (I noticed it as soon as I came to your page) without being too obtrusive.
You’re bang on about fan engagement and Speak Pipe should be a simple way to ‘kick it up a notch’ on just about anyone’s site!

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John Oszajca March 27, 2012 at 1:33 am

Thanks Mike,

Yeah, I’m really digging this thing. It allows you to have personal contact with fans but still keep a little bit of needed space if needed.

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Reb Shaya March 26, 2012 at 10:53 am

This issue of accessibility has been discussed a lot recently, and there seems to be two sides to the coin. The “star-fan” relationship seems to require a certain mystery or idealization that sometimes evaporates when people get too close. One could even argue that the “star” acts more like one when more is expected of him/her. On the other hand, with the often abominable behavior of many of the “stars” today, it looks like that “positive idealization” is basically a thing of the past, if it ever really existed. Anyway, the issue is worthy of more study.

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John Oszajca March 27, 2012 at 12:10 am

Hi Reb,

Yeah, I can totally see what you’re saying about that “star” status disappearing when you actually meet the star. I think that is real, but I just don’t think it’s as important as being out there, cutting through the noise, and making genuine relationships. The relationships you do make far out way those you might lose as a result. At least in my experience.

Gary Vaynerchukis (NY times best selling biz opp author) is someone I admire very much. He makes a point of being as accessible as possible, to the point of almost being ridiculous given his celebrity status these days. That has endeared me to him immensely and made me a fan as a result.

I just don’t think communication and transparency can be a bad thing in the current economy. Since my own mind shift on the subject many MANY more doors have opened for me.

Thanks for the comment.

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