*Isaac Hayes lll, best known for being the son and heir to his soul icon father’s estate, the late Isaac Hayes Jr. has created a new app called Fanbase.
According to the press release, Fanbase is a photo, video and live streaming app that enables users to monetize content by gaining subscribers for $3.99 a month for exclusive content you create. Users decide what posts will be offered for free to followers and what posts are for subscribers. Whether you’re an Influencer, athlete, musician, model, foodie, fitness enthusiast, makeup artist, comedian, or brand, everyone has a Fanbase.
We caught up with Mr. Hayes to dish about the app and what makes it unique from other photo sharing apps like Instagram. Check out our Q&A below.
Tell our readers about the inspiration behind your new Fanbase app. What makes it unique compared to the other photo sharing apps that are out there?
Isaac Hayes III: This app is really focused on content monetization. It provides the environment for people to share their content, but also make money on it. I think that’s really a good starting out point. The other platforms are trying to find ways to monetize, but we’re coming in the game with Fanbase, because this is about content monetization from the very beginning. That’s where I wanted to start. I wanted to make a platform that I felt like people that put in much time and energy into monetizing their content, had a space where they could monetize and make money.
When you were conceptualizing this app, what were some of the problems you were seeing that content creators were having when it comes to getting paid for their content? How does Fanbase address those problems?
Isaac Hayes III: The fact that we contribute so much to these platforms and we don’t get any revenue from this enormous amount of content that we create, you know what I’m saying? We make a lot of content, you know what I’m saying? We make a lot, and most of these companies just run ads off the enormity… When you think about all these influencers, they get boom mics, and Adobe Premier Pro and [inaudible 00:16:39], and they’re not making any money. That’s just hard. That’s hard to really accept, you know what I’m saying? That’s tough, and so I really wanted to provide a space for it. In the music industry, there’s a point where mix tapes were the number one thing that people used to put out all the time, artists.
But they were giving away free music, and all this free music, free music, free music, right? All this free music. Until streaming came along, people didn’t understand the concept of paying to stream music. I think we’re in that space now with content, where now people need to be normalized to the idea of paying for content. That’s what we’re happy to provide over at Fanbase is that. We’re happy to normalize the idea of, “You know what? This is something that I made. I should get paid for it, and I’m excited about it. I work hard. I bust my tail making all this dope content. I should get paid for it.”
Why is it important for content creators, especially the ones who have a huge following, but they’re not making any money off what they’re putting out. Why is monetization vital to their brand?
Isaac Hayes III: For one, at Fanbase, I believe that every person is a content creator. For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s you, me, a 15-year-old that has a knack for a particular skill or set. I find us all to be content creators, so that’s why it’s for anybody. It’s not segmented off for just people that already have a space where they monetize content, but the new and up and coming generation of people that decide to monetize their content, because we imagine someone that may discover that, “Hey, my fitness videos get a lot of engagement. I should start monetizing these.” That’s what tends to happen.
The importance of that as well is, with most of these platforms right now, they’re ad-based platforms. With them being ad-based services, that means that the companies, they make all the money, but we contribute all the content. That’s really what makes it better for us. Instagram runs ads based off all the users that create all the content for free. We don’t run ads on Fanbase. It’s not a platform based in that. We want to keep the platform ad free, and build our revenue model off of participating in the rev share of all the fantastic creators that are on the platform.
What do you attribute to the massive financial support behind this app?
Isaac Hayes III: Honestly, I attribute it to the JOBS Act. The JOBS Act is some legislation passed by Barack Obama and Joe Biden in 2012. What that did is, it lowered the SEC regulation that allows anyone to invest in a seed stage company. What made that so difficult was before 2012, from 1933 to 2012, the only way that you can invest in a seed stage company is, you had to be an accredited investor, which means you had to have a net worth of a million dollars, or make $200,000 a year for two consecutive years. When you think about that, from 1933 to 2012, that’s pretty much only rich white people.
If you ever wonder why no one ever got a call to invest in Delta Airlines, or Home Depot, or these platforms that might’ve raised private equity to get started, it was illegal. The JOBS Act lowered the regulation that allows any person to invest in a private company, regardless of their net worth or annual income. What that did is, it sprung a bunch of platforms that actually created models that allow people to raise money from the general public. With Fanbase, what we did was, we raised from the general public and the minimum to invest was $256. When you think about that, that’s not a lot, you know what I’m saying? That’s not a lot at all, so the barrier to entry to invest in companies was very minimal. We created this groundswell of support. We got this groundswell of support that allowed people to invest in our company.
You think about $256. $256 is something very small for most people to really get into investing. It’s a lot of money, don’t get me wrong, but people spend that on a pair of shoes or a dinner. I think when someone can say, “Hey man, I can invest $256, $500 in a company,” and with the particular company that I built with Fanbase, with a social network, the valuations of these companies have gone from $1 billion in 2012 to Instagram, to 2020 TikTok exited, or was sold for $50 billion. They’re only trending in that direction, so I would love nothing more than four or five years from now, to be standing in a room with our 4,000 plus investors that are mostly African-American, having exited the company or gone IPO, gone public with it, and turned all of those people into multi-millionaires. I credit the windfall of support from people seeing an advantage and an opportunity to finally invest in a private company. It wasn’t intimidating, and it’s also something that they understand and believe in.
This is a public offering to buy actual shares and own part of a seed-stage tech startup.
— Isaac Hayes III (@IsaacHayes3) October 30, 2020
So for our readers who are like, “Wow, I want to invest in Fanbase?” How do they get involved?
Isaac Hayes III: Yeah. What happened was, we met our goal of $1 million. The legal amount that you can raise was $1 million. Anything over that gets put on a wait list, and it would have to be accepted in a rank D, which was another regulation, but fortunately enough, the FCC actually upped the amount that someone can raise at a reg CF to $5 million, but that law doesn’t take effect until January. You can still invest in Fanbase at Startengine.com/Fanbase. Your investment will be waitlisted, but up to $3 million. We’re going to cut it off at $3 million. We’re at $2.5 million now, so we’re going to accept about another half a million dollars worth of investment, and all that will take place in January.
Have users reached out to you to share their experience with the app so far?
Isaac Hayes III: Yes, and we’ve doubled our user base in less than a month. We have about 20,000 users now, and that’s really, really good. Like I said, we’ve doubled our user base and there’s some content creators that are coming to the platform. I don’t want to name names until they’re fully onto the platform, but one person that is slated to do content and decided to use Fanbase was Azriel Clary, which is the young lady who actually got away from R. Kelly. She’s going to do a content series on Fanbase and tell her story in a limited series, because on Fanbase, we have photo, video, live stories and long form up to one hour, really giving the ability for anyone to be their own Netflix. She’ll tell her story on there. We’re glad that she chose Fanbase as the platform to do that.
Is Fanbase working with social media influencers to help promote the platform?
Isaac Hayes III: Well, right now we’re doing a multitude of things to draw in users. One of those is influencers. There are a lot of people that are coming to the platform that are starting to make content, but it’s a process because really people have to understand … You have to realize and see the vision of what’s possible by doing that. But definitely constant … I get calls. I’ve got calls today from some very popular rapper’s manager and he said, “Hey, listen, I think this is a place where I want my artists to come.”
It’s because these artists, they’re making this massive following on Instagram, and they really don’t have any way to monetize it during COVID. There’s no shows, and no concerts, but imagine being able to do a live show or post a concert, or some content that people want to subscribe to during COVID and monetize your fan base. Yeah, we’re getting a lot of activity and then there’s some more onboarding strategies that we’re using to get users onto the platform, but absolutely, influencers are coming on board.
What does the Fanbase app mean to you personally?
Isaac Hayes III: It’s really one of the greatest things that I’ve ever done, because this is an idea that I had from inception. I funded the app. I bootstrapped the app to the amount of $200,000 of my own money just to get it to this point. By doing that, I’m able to really celebrate the fact that something that I’ve built from the ground up, that I own, is mine, is funded and built. It’s really a great story for people, for entrepreneurs that really want to start their own company, that you can do it. Again, always, it’s not the sexiest thing in the world to really hustle hard, and build your own platform, but I know I’m glad that I can be an inspiration for people to do that.
What do you envision is the future of Fanbase? What other capabilities and features would you like to add to this tool?
Isaac Hayes III: Oh, man. Really we want to build creator tools, is what I call them. What I mean by creator tools are just things that users have that allow them to continue to grow their Fanbase. Podcasting is in the future for fans, music. There’s so many other things that I think the platform can do. Like I said, long form. Then, also really going hard with content and conversation. I think content and conversation is a really great space to be in, where people merge those two areas of the game. When you merge those two areas of the game, that becomes something that’s unique, kind of like what Versus did. You think about what Versus was, and what Versus did? That’s the kind of the energy that I’m looking for, is merging content and conversations in one seamless space and place.