Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” has held the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 9 weeks now, the longest run in that spot for 2012 so far. There are thousands of parodies and sing-alongs to the song on YouTube. It’s near impossible to avoid the song on any pop-friendly radio station.
So here’s a question: what is CallMeMaybe.com worth?
A lot, hopes Preston Hershorn, a 24-year-old who works in marketing at Google. In late February, he heard the song at a friend’s house and decided, as he put it, “This is a hit.”
One day later, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Ashley Tisdale posted a YouTube video of themselves lip-syncing to the song, pushing “Call Me Maybe” into official viral territory. After that, Hershorn and some friends, goofing around while watching the Oscars, filmed a parody lip-sync video of their own. Looking for somewhere to host it, Hershorn bought CallMeMaybe.com for well under $500 (he wouldn’t give an exact figure), simply as a place to host the clip.
“I’m a marketer after all. I love a strong vanity URL,” Hershorn says. For nearly six months, CallMeMaybe.com has hosted the homemade video produced by him and his friends, and nothing more.
But as the song continued to top charts throughout the summer months, Hershorn found he didn’t have much use for the domain anymore, and hoped he might sell it. This week, he listed the site for a starting bid of $1000 on eBay.
The Call Me Maybe video starring Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Ashley Tisdale.
“I had gotten a number of inquiries over the last month or two — everything from someone building an app at a hack-a-thon to a few people who were unemployed (I assume they wanted to host their resumes there). So I decided that it might be fun to throw it up on eBay and to see what happens,” he said. “Someone can probably make better use of it than I can.”
He’s gotten offers for around $1000, which is how he chose that number as the initial bid. He’d love someone to start a dating site with the URL.
Elliot Silver, a longtime domain name investor and President of TopNotchDomains.com, says $1000 is a reasonable starting bid, and that eBay is a good place to reach a large audience of potential buyers. But the sale had better happen fast.
“The more quickly he is able to sell the domain name, the better, because the popularity of the song and parodies will likely fade, making the domain name less valuable,” Silver wrote in an email.
A song title might be a valuable domain name if the site was receiving a high amount of traffic. But Silver “can’t recall seeing any [song name domains] sell for anything substantial.” Hershorn hasn’t been tracking analytics.
The Call Me Maybe video by Hershorn and friends.
Even if they’re popular, song titles as domain names can be a tough sell because domain investors don’t want to deal with intellectual property debates. “I would imagine there may be trademark issues when it comes to the names of songs, albums, or artists,” explained Silver.
While record labels may buy a domain for an album title, it’s unlikely that they’d do so for individual songs. (Hershorn hasn’t been in touch with Jepsen’s record label.)
Despite the enduring popularity of the song, cashing in big is unlikely, since trademark issues and the likelihood of waning popularity wouldn’t be all that appealing to domain name investors willing to pay a large amount.
Hershorn isn’t too worried about that: “In theory, I’d sort of like to sell it to someone that’ll actually do something fun with it,” he said.
He’s hoping he makes enough to buy a few rounds of drinks for his friends who co-starred in the video. If he gets lucky, he’d “maybe take a trip to Canada in honor of CRJ and the Biebs.”
But let’s not lose hope: “Call Me Maybe” shows no sign of slowing down. According to Google Trends, searches are still on the rise.