Soundwave Art Update: We Cut Back On Advertising And Found Creative Revenue Streams [$24K/Month]

Published: February 24th, 2023
Mike LaTour
Founder, Soundwave Art
Soundwave Art
from Saint Louis, MO, USA
started June 2012
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hi, I’m Mike LaTour, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Soundwave Art. We turn the sounds of your life into augmented reality artwork. This is a followup to my Starter Story from last year.

Turning your voice, a recording of your child’s heartbeat, an old voicemail, or any sound into playable art is such a unique and personal experience. One of our most popular products is printing your art on high quality photographic paper and adhering it to a thin sheet of aluminum with a float mount on the back for easy hanging. This offers a sleek modern design which has become our number one seller.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

Unfortunately, over the past year like many businesses we have experienced a dip in sales. With the cost of materials going up, inflation, and the need for so many to cut back on their spending we are down about 20%.

We decided to integrate something new into our augmented reality mobile app specifically geared toward business marketing. We are close to launching it and feel it will grow that side of the business significantly.

Many businesses use our app to enhance their marketing material with augmented reality. I can’t discuss this new feature in detail just yet but it is designed to take away the need for the user to download our app to use the augmented reality feature. Taking away the need for our clients to explain to customers that they need to download an app, then scan their flyer, brochure, book, etc. to view their video is a great step toward bringing augmented reality marketing material to more people.

We are also about to test an on-site made-to-order system in a retail location. The store specializes in personalized art and apparel. It is an interactive experience that we are excited about it. We will be launching this in about 2 months.

Finding new revenue streams can be challenging but extremely important. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail.

We paused our Google Ads campaign last year and recently shifted to Google Shopping. We offer more than just personalized art, we also create pre-designed artwork from music and thought this would be a good test for Google Shopping. This is recent so we don’t have any stats to share at this time. Word of mouth has always generated more sales than anything else for us but we wanted to experiment with Google Shopping to see if that works better than our typical Google campaigns.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

Our biggest challenge over the past year has been the economy. As previously mentioned we did cut back on advertising and are trying new things. An important part of running a business is being able to pivot. Something we’ve been up to is developing new features for our augmented reality app with a big focus on making it easier for businesses to use our app for marketing.

Our partner program has expanded as more people are looking for ways to earn extra money. We are approaching 100 partners, these partners use our app to enhance the products they already sell by adding augmented reality to them.

We’ve also started a print-on-demand service for those in our partner program. Many of our partners already had their business selling products and just use our augmented reality app. We’ve also had people interested in our partnership program as a way to start their businesses. We decided to offer our printing services to them as an all-in-one solution for creating and selling art. They sell products to their customers and we print and ship directly for them.

Finding new revenue streams can be challenging but extremely important. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. Trying and failing is a learning experience that will help you grow and make you more determined.


What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

Take time for yourself, and find a good work/life balance. I can’t express enough just how important that is. In the early days, I worked every waking moment. Starting a company is an enormous amount of work but do your best to take time to be with family and friends. Your mental health is so important. If you don’t take the time to recharge it will have an impact on you and your business.

It took me a long time to learn that lesson and it took a toll on my personal life. Since then I set some ground rules for myself. I don’t work past a certain time in the evening. I no longer wake up and immediately jump on the computer, I like to take my dog for a walk or workout before I start working. Whatever it is that you enjoy finding the time to make it happen, and find that balance.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

A few areas we are focusing on for future growth are augmented reality marketing, print-on-demand services, and expanding in-store operations. We truly believe that the new product we will be launching in the coming months will be very useful for businesses when it comes to enhancing their marketing material. We see this working well in the real estate industry.

Offering print-on-demand services makes perfect sense for our partnership program. As more and more people look for ways to work from home or earn some extra money on the side printing and shipping products for them is a no-brainer. Offering our partners a way to easily create and sell personalized art while we handle the heavy lifting of production and shipping is something we see growing significantly over the next few years.

We’re also excited to launch our in-store interactive experience where people can take photos, record a video and walk out of the store with a finished, printed product activated with augmented reality all in one visit.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

I wish I had all the answers but I just don’t. We’ve tried, we’ve failed and we try again. I do spend a lot of time talking with other business owners. I find it helpful to listen to their stories and learn about the different services or products they use. You never know what may be helpful for you even if their business is completely different than yours.

Something that has worked well for us is reaching out to YouTubers and offering them one of our products. Sometimes we just create a piece of art and send it to them in hopes that they discuss it in a video of theirs. It doesn’t work all the time but when it does it can get a large set of eyes on your business or product. We got Mr. Beast to give us a shoutout on one of his livestreams. That was huge!

Another thing we’ve had success with is reaching out to home improvement TV shows. We sent a message to Mina Starsiak from the TV show Good Bones on HGTV and offered her a custom piece of art. She loved the idea and asked if we could create a piece from the heartbeat of her son that was taken during an ultrasound. It made an appearance in one of the episodes. She contacted us after that and commissioned us for another piece for a web series she did with HGTV. If I only had one bit of advice to give it would be don’t be afraid to try unconventional ways to grow brand awareness.


Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are not looking to hire at this time. We are always open to discussing our partner program for those that sell personalized products and would like to enhance them with augmented reality. One of the best industries to make use of this technology is photography.

Photographers have been very successful using our app, especially those that print for their clients. Adding the option to make the photos they take playable with a video provided by their customers is a great upsell. Wedding photographers are a perfect fit for this. Learn more about the Soundwave Art partner program.


Where can we go to learn more?