How to make an audio birthday card

A couple people asked how I created the audio birthday greeting card for my wife’s birthday. It was super-easy to do and shows off the power of open platforms. Here’s the recipe.


  1. Phone number from Burner
  2. Account on SoundCloud
  3. A webpage to host the SoundCloud files

What you do

Create your account on Burner. There are a number of different plans and you need to buy credits to set up an account. I bought 8 credits for $4.99 which let me buy an Unlimited Burner number which gave me unlimited texts & minutes before it self-destructs after 30 days.

You’ll need an iOS or Android device from which to set up the account. Once you set up the account, you’ll get your temporary phone number. This is the number that you’ll give out to your friends to leave their birthday message. Messages show up in the Burner app like this.

Set up an account on SoundCloud. You’ll want to create an account in your friend’s name so you can transfer the account over to your friend on their birthday so they can login and manage it after their birthday.

Once you have both a Burner and SoundCloud account, you need to connect the two together. On the Burner app Details screen (image below) you will see a prompt to connect your SoundCloud account to your Burner app.

Once you’ve connected the two, use someone’s phone to call the Burner number and leave a message. Login to your SoundCloud account to confirm the message is saved to the SoundCloud account. Don’t worry, you can go back and delete this test message later from SoundCloud. The messages will get stored in SoundCloud and look like this.


Once you’ve confirmed everything is working, you’ll want to use the Burner App to record a greeting with instructions for your friends that call the number. Explain what you’re doing and to leave a message. Have them gather their family together to leave a group message, sing a song or record other audio snippets from their life (greeting from their local barrista, bus driver calling out their stop, etc).

You’ll want to set it up so that your phone doesn’t ring and calls get routed straight to voicemail. Burner leaves three notification for each incoming call (missed call, new voicemail, message saved to SoundCloud) so you’ll want to manage notifications so they don’t bother you.

SoundCloud supports widgets that can be embedded into webpages. Create a hidden Birthday Web Page for your friend and embed the SoundCloud widget into the web page. You can write something, add photos, even some blink tags and MySpace glitter fonts to make it fancy (if that’s your style).

That’s it! Now that the tech pieces are in place, all you have to do is get the word out without letting your friend in on the secret. This was the hardest part but I found making a Facebook post with Custom privacy set so that everyone except your friend could see it was the most efficient. This way you could message back and forth with everyone and not be in danger of your friend seeing the conversation.

Have fun!

Other Use Cases: Reggae band uses Burner > SoundCloud connection learn which songs their fans like best and promote their tour – Iration: “Hotting Up” with Burner Connections & Soundcloud





2 responses to “How to make an audio birthday card”

  1. Greg Cohn (@gregcohn) Avatar

    Thanks for posting this Ian — and most importantly, I hope Izumi liked it!

    1. Ian Kennedy Avatar

      She did! It was fun to hear from all her friends and I think people had fun leaving messages too!

Leave a comment