BURR RIDGE – If a picture is worth a thousand words, some of them have to be music lyrics.
That’s what Ryan Salvino of Burr Ridge thought when he took a pass on medical school to launch a social network where people can combine music, lyrics and photographs.
The company, called Zaptones, allows users to share, listen and post photos to music quotes from any song in the network’s library.
The website lets you find “the perfect quote that fits the photo or the moment,” Salvino, 23, said. “The combination of text and audio is very powerful. He calls it a Zapshot.
“It’s an active feed, so you can share it on Facebook or Twitter,” Salvino added.
He and his former college roommate, Brian Padove, got the idea in June 2012.
“I’m a big Northwestern fan,” said Salvino, who wanted to tweet the “wildcat sound” of the university’s team mascot.
“You see people posting quotes of songs all the time. We thought we could put the audio together with the lyrics, and have a stronger message,” Salvino said.
His 20-year-old twin brothers and six other friends joined their team.
“People my age and younger are our target audience,” Salvino said, noting it made sense that they were the people who should help them develop the idea.
Salvino also wanted to work with people he knew well from going on medical mission trips to Central America with the Hinsdale Hospital Junior Board.
“I knew they had a great work ethic,” Salvino said. “We could have gone out and gotten that marketing or finance person, but playing sports all my life, I learned it’s all about chemistry. We have excellent chemistry.”
And their fledgling enterprise needed worker bees.
Zaptones has an affiliate agreement with iTunes that allows them to offer audio clips from thousands of songs. Zaptones also pays a licensing fee to LyricFind to access its library of written lyrics.
But Salvino and his team had to manually type in the lyrics, select the audio feeds and put in the fade-in and fade-out, a process they call “clipping.”
They clipped in their homes, in libraries, in coffee shops and eventually in rented office space.
Salvino had graduated from Butler University with a degree in business communication and pre-med courses. He was accepted at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, where last fall he planned to study podiatry, like his father.
Instead, he deferred his enrollment.
“My passion was entrepreneurship and Zaptones and I decided I would go after it,” Salvino said.
Padove continued with his plan to attend law school at the University of Wisconsin. And that’s been helpful with all the contracts they have had before them.
But, as chief executive officer, Salvino wanted to put his full effort into Zaptones.
“I realized it’s the only way this would work.”
From getting the idea to launching the website took six to eight months, with Padove and Salvino traveling to New York and Los Angeles to meet with industry executives.
Their revenue will come from advertising and subscriptions for people who want to use the website without seeing advertisements.
The company also can promote new artists and their latest releases.
“We are developing a mobile application right now, so people will be able to send (Zapshots) as direct messages from one phone to another.” Salvino said. “We have a patent pending for both the mobile and the web applications.”
They have not recouped their investment yet, but the initial response has been encouraging.
Zaptones has had more than 4,000 visitors since launching in September.
“I’m looking to go beyond music to TV shows, movies and quotes from those media,” Salvino said. “If it’s not me, it’s going to be somebody else.”