With the last 18 months being a devastating blow in terms of artists being able to connect with their fans with tour dates coming to a screeching halt across the globe, Vibely emerged as an option being a new platform for creators to build their communities that focuses on positivity and empowerment.
After making the most of the traditional social media platforms, in addition to many flocking to Twitch and Discord, Vibely popped up as an alternative that focuses on building a tight-knit, active community over prioritizing metrics. A new safe space online where creators and fans alike could connect.
To make it happen, the CEO of Vibely, Teri Yu managed to raise $2.5 million in funding during the pandemic for her platform and secured backing from some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley ranging from the ex Founder of Youtube, Spotify’s VP of Product, and many more.
With Vibely being a great new option for artists to connect with fans in a less toxic environment compared to other social media platforms in addition to being able to monetize their work along the way, DJ Times to the time to chat with the Vibely CEO Teri Yu to get to know her and her blossoming platform a little better.
DJ Times: Greetings Teri, thank you for taking the time. Really interesting to see what you’re doing with Vibely. Could you tell us a little about what inspired you to spearhead this project?
Teri Yu: Growing up, I belonged to a few close-knit communities. I always felt like I belonged. And there were people to surround me and pick me up during my lows.
In the 1980s, my parents left friends and family to come to the US, and thankfully were welcomed with open arms by local communities like the Taiwanese American Association. Economically they started from the bottom– my parents rummaged through trash and collected aluminum to earn recycling deposits, while also scavenging for our bedding and my baby toys. After a hard search, my dad found a job as a cafeteria dishwasher while my mom knocked door-to-door to give people haircuts.
It was with persistence & support from their community that they rose up and started to make a decent living. My dad became an engineer at Intel, and my mom a real estate agent, and she even became president of her local Taiwanese community.
It’s absolutely unacceptable that we live in a world where real support systems have fizzled. We’re so isolated by our screens that we most deeply resonate with people who don’t even know us, like our movie stars or our influencers. And once we unplug from that content feed, we’re alone, unfulfilled, and many of us depressed. Vibely is changing that.
DJ Times: You have some serious backers (the ex-Founder of Youtube, Spotify’s VP of Product, etc). As a first-time CEO, what does it mean to you to have such support?
Teri Yu: It’s incredibly humbling. These are people who’ve founded the world’s top tech companies, so it means a lot that they’ve supported me as a female founder and our mission to #spreadhappiness. None of these connections were spoonfed to me. I met JR when I worked at Asana, but I hadn’t talked to Steve & Scott until I started fundraising for Vibely. If you set your mind to something, work hard, and radiate passion, you’ll collect your believers along the way, whoever they are.
DJ Times: The financial woes of the music industry due to the pandemic are well-documented. How do you see Vibely potentially being a solution?
Teri Yu: Creatives should do what they love — community memberships with recurring income liberates you & scales your time. By hosting a toxic-free community, creatives set their own price and charge for exclusive community access, including perks like live streams, virtual listening parties, first access to concert tickets, discounts on merch, remix challenges, how-to resources etc.
Think of Vibely as the ‘center of your DJverse’, in which you can integrate your constellation of events, income streams, and initiatives into one-place. All protected by our commitment to positivity, called our Vibe Check.
DJ Times: How do you see Vibely evolving “post-pandemic” in a world where physical meet-ups become the norm?
Teri Yu: Each community here is almost like its own mini-religion. Today, we have tools for virtual connection, like live streams & video calls, challenges, and group chats. But long-term, we still believe that real-life experiences are an essential part of human fulfillment. We are seeing offline events slowly start picking up again and will increasingly be the case, letting us come together in our local cities & form real friendships that we truly depend on.
DJ Times: Traditional social media platforms are pretty lax with their “free speech” rules while Vibely adheres to a strict “positivity only” approach. Do you think that might take away from people being truly themselves?
Teri Yu: It’s crazy that social media has become so toxic that our commitment to positivity stands out. Expecting people to treat each other with respect and kindness is normal– we do that every day IRL, don’t we?
Whether at work, on a student campus, or even shopping at a mall, the default expectation is that you don’t insult, harass, discriminate, bully, or act violent to others. If you do, you’re escorted out. But for some reason, when we’re hiding behind our screens, we’re suddenly provoked to stir controversy, negativity, and harm. That needs to change.
At Vibely, we intentionally design for the most inspiring experience through meaningful connections. We’re empowered to do this because we don’t make any money off of your drama vs. social giants rely on attention-grabbing headlines to accrue ad revenue.
DJ Times: With verticals in self-care, wellness, meditation, etc already on the platform, where are some additional topics that you think would thrive on Vibely?
Teri Yu: Everyone craves a real connection. Many of our creators like Lavendaire (1.5M YouTube), Rowena Tsai (550K YouTube), Amy Lee (529K YouTube) are leaders who care deeply about providing a safe space for wellness communities to accomplish their goals together.
Our thousands of other communities are spread across many verticals, including dance with Matt Steffanina (12M Youtube), fashion with Fly with Johnny Thai (100K Youtube), female empowerment with Dear Alyne (3M youtube), photography with No Way Jose (286K Tik Tok), and sustainability with Bottega Zero Waste (80K IG).
DJ Times: Could you give us a specific example of a DJ that you think would be a great fit for Vibely (and why)?
Teri Yu: Above & Beyond with Group Therapy. With ABGT 450 coming up this year, a membership for their top fans to meet at shows, get tickets first, chat about their love for trance, and get access to exclusive live shows or q&a’s would result in an epic community and establish a massive recurring revenue stream for them too. Or Alison Wonderland, who advocates for mental health in her podcast.
DJ Times: How do you feel the DJ community would benefit from using Vibely?
Teri Yu: Fostering ironclad community loyalty while earning 6 figures in recurring revenue.
DJ Times: How did Justin “3LAU” Blau first get involved with the platform?
Teri Yu: An investor first introduced us and we just clicked. Justin’s always believed in the power of community virtually and in real-life, for all creators and particularly for artists. A safe place for your loyal fans to geek out and share your music together, which creative wouldn’t benefit from that? Justin was excited even before we introduced membership paywalls, with creatives now earning reliable income from all our community tools. Now we’ve unlocked a whole new level of growth.
DJ Times: What kind of upcoming features can Vibely creators and users look forward to?
Teri Yu: Our team consists of rockstars like Selman (230K Youtuber who teaches engineering), so we’re shipping new features constantly to add to your membership. The feature I’m most excited about coming back soon is a world map of your community distribution, in which cities can start organizing their own meetups and merch inventory for shows that will be easier to predict.
DJ Times: Start-up life isn’t easy especially during all this covid craziness. What motivates you to keep going?
Teri Yu: Finding your personal mission is critical. I’m an extreme extrovert and empath, so I hate seeing people feel alone. During the inevitable startup lows, I remind myself why what we’re doing is so important.
A few years ago, I lost my close friend Danory who was a brother to me. He took his own life from a breakup, and I wasn’t there for him. Losing him reminds me every day to keep going– that every human on earth deserves a world where they are surrounded by supportive people to catch them when they fall.
DJ Times: Are there any specific communities/creators that you would recommend us (and new users) checking out?
Teri Yu: One of our public communities, Style Squad, is hosting a cool interactive challenge, run by Fly with Johnny Thai (100K YouTube). It’s called the “Rate my Outfit challenge”, in which members share their #ootd & give each other feedback. The creator will then react to the UGC & share fashion tips for his next video.
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