Tales from Startup Alley: Shoutomatic

If tweets are the short form of a blog post, then what’s the short audio equivalent for a podcast?

I found the answer at Shoutomatic’s booth talking to its co-founder and COO Michael Levy. The idea is simple: why not give give the people the power to quickly record short audio messages or shouts, and tweet out the embedded link or post it onto a FaceBook wall?

There are other, more cumbersome ways to do this kind of thing in the Web world.

Shoutomatic, though, is its owns ecosystem and social network—profiles, real-time shout stream, follow-follower model, etc.

Most intriguing to me and a powerful differentiator of this service is its celebrity shouters, which include Andy Dick, Eurythmic’s Dave Stewart, rapper Chuck D, Danny Bonaduce, and American Idol winner Bo Bice.

Celebrity and branded shouts are really the core of the for-pay business of this startup.

Musicians, actors, comedians, athletes and perhaps a writer or, ahem, a blogger can use Shoutomatic’s web site to reach fans in a more intimate way than a boring monochromatic tweet.

In other words, they can form a new fan base as they pick up shout followers. Fans, by the way, can record messages and shout back directly to their favorite super star, and then engage in a shout exchange.

Michael Levy, Co-founder of Shoutomatic

Celebrities pick up a revenue stream (with a slice going to Shoutomatic) by recording personalized messages.

For example, Andy Dick will craft a shout based on a text message for $9.99. But he does say on his validated profile page that he “may take the liberty of embellishing your words”.

You would hope Andy Dick and others expand on your script—it’s all part of the fun.

And don’t get the idea that you can get rapper Chuck D ($19.99) or other celebs to say anything: they all have the option to refuse.

Shoutomatic is also a talent marketplace of sorts for brands looking for spokespeople.

In their SponsoredShout market, I found San Franciso 49er Colin Kaepernick, who will do special campaigns for products.

So you submit a request directly to Colin (or in reality the PR agent who’s handling him), and then his agent and your brand police can work out all the details and compensation.

According to Michael Levy—whose brother Norm by the way is the other half of the founding team— if he’s able to get through to a star, they’ve not once turned him down.

I am hoping he’ll be able to contact former Python John Cleese, so he can record  ‘you stupid git’ followed by the name of an especially horrid person in your life.

Leaving celebrities aside, anyone can embed a shout in their website. Mine is to the right, enjoy.