Capture The Conversation

2010 February

RootMusic’s BandPages: An Improvement on Facebook Musician Pages

Brandon Whalen, February 26, 2010

For a long time, Myspace was the go-to social network for musicians looking to connect with fans. Today, Facebook has surpassed Myspace to become the social network of choice for most.  As most users leave Myspace to join the ranks of Facebook, the same goes for musicians wishing to promote their music.

However, Facebook musician pages leave a lot to be desired for those promoting their music within the world’s largest social network.  The Facebook music player is either tucked away in the box tab or it is halfway down the page in the side bar.  Even worse, the fans who actually look hard enough to find the music player are unable to share the songs with their own friends.

RootMusic is working to make Facebook pages more musician friendly withBandPages.  Their simple tool creates a tab for your Facebook page where your fans can hear your music while they interact with the page. BandPages also pull in your Twitter stream and offer a functioning Facebook wall, along with providing a shareable music player.

Screenshot of Root Music's BandPage

The process of setting up a BandPage incredibly quick and easy. Any band with a Facebook page can head to RootMusic.com and have a functioning Facebook BandPage in about five minutes.  One of the really nice features is the music playerpowered by SoundCloud. It gives your fans the ability share your music with their friends on Facebook or a number of other sites. The music player even expands the functionality for musicians by giving them the option to offer free song downloads.

One big criticism of BandPages is that the music player is still tucked away in a tab. However, this is more of a critique of Facebook music pages themselves.  The best way to direct traffic to your tab is to make your BandPage tab the landing page for all non-fans (Once again RootMusic has made it very easy to do this).

Musician pages on Facebook may not be substantially improved until Facebook decides to do a major overhaul. In the mean time, a BandPage is one of the easiest and fastest ways to customize your musician page and expand it’s functionality.

Check out a few BandPages in the wild:
OONA
Con Brio
BATTLEHOOCH

J Slider, CEO of RootMusic, was nice enough to answer some questions for me in a quick interview:

Interview with J Slider, CEO of RootMusic

Q: Can you give me some background information on yourself and RootMusic?

Answer: We are made up at the intersection where music and tech folks meet.We have a great time working on RootMusic and have in depth experience in our respected fields. As musicians, band managers, venue managers we were frustrated with the lack of good clearly organized tools that were available for the music community. So now we are building them, and always keeping an open ear to ways the music community would like to see things improved.

Q: How many musicians are currently using BandPages and how long have BandPages been available?

Answer: There are right around 100 currently using BandPages and we really just opened it up to the public a few days ago. We had about 15 bands helping us test it out before we opened it up to the public.

Q: How can you offer BandPages for free?

Answer: Well first off this is a very basic need that every musician should be able to afford. That is to represent yourself well on the biggest social network where your grandma, next door neighbor and fans all are. Instead of making them come to your site go to your fans. We have many things already in the works for the future that will be affordably priced , but this is a basic version that everyone should be able to have it they want it.

Q: What are you looking to provide for musicians with BandPages?

Answer: A place that is informative and clean for musicians to represent themselves on the biggest social network. It provides a way to bring all your Facebook tab’s,Facebook Wall, music player and more into one easy to use page. One of our users said “Myspace musicians welcome to Facebook”

Q: Why is there a need for your tool?

Answer: Because every single musician/fan we have talked to has asked for it. To this point we have not heard anyone say…”eh thats not really a good idea” so we figured there’s a pretty big need.

Q: What do BandPages do better than any other Facebook tool for musicians?

Answer: There are a lot of apps out there that were built to do one thing to help musicians. BandPage brings together many of those tools onto one page. Where it makes it easy for new fans and current fans to check out your band. We also keep the music playing so it is more likely for your fans to read your bio, look at your shows etc, because they are free to move around as the music is playing. There is much more to come and things we plan to make better and more useful, can’t wait to share those with you!

Q: Most of a Facebook page’s activity happens within a user’s newsfeed. How can a BandPage help a musician utilize his/her fans to spread content virally?

Answer: Oh you just wait, its gonna be pretty sweet! Currently when you use the wall on BandPages it’s the same as your regular wall, so it posts to your news feed like it normally would.

Q: Tracks uploaded on a BandPage go to the RootMusic SoundCloud account. Why did RootMusic choose to use SoundCloud within BandPages?

Answer: SoundCloud is the best music player we have seen, if you have other suggestions, we are all ears! They have a great reputation a mature api, built in sharing functions,stable, and the public already trusts them.

Q: Are there any new features in the pipeline for BandPages?

Answer: Yes! We will be around for a while and you will see new features coming out in the next few months. We are currently building them for you as we speak! And again we want to hear the public opinion as to what you would like to see. So if you have any suggestions about what features to add let us know. At the end of the day we build what the people ask for.

Q: Are there any new features in the pipeline for BandPages?

Answer: Yes! We will be around for a while and you will see new features coming out in the next few months. We are currently building them for you as we speak! And again we want to hear the public opinion as to what you would like to see. So if you have any suggestions about what features to add let us know. At the end of the day we build what the people ask for.

Notes from DiMe: Forget Technology, Story is the King

Room 214, February 17, 2010

Last week, I got a chance to attend the Digital Media symposium (DiMe) at the Boulder Film Festival. The symposium centered around a panel discussion with various people involved in the world of digital media. The panel included content creators (Disney, Serac Adventure Films, Riptide Games) programs for content creation (Google Sketchup. Kerpoof), a VC guy and a David Rolfe of CP+B. Bios for the panelists can be found here.

Expectations
Consumers expect free. If your content isn’t free, they’ll find it elsewhere. Mashable (via Nielsen) points out how cheap we’ve all become: “nearly eight out of every ten (79%) [consumers] would no longer use a web site that charges them, presuming they can find the same information at no cost.” If content is now ubiquitous, how could we consider charging for it?

The Story
Everyone kept talking about the story and how it’s the most important part of content creation. Key takeaway: it doesn’t matter how cutting edge the technology is. If the story isn’t there, then consumers won’t stick with it. An issue that comes with this is that everyone gets to tell a story on the web. Which leads us to…

Curation
As everyone on the internet is now a content creator, curation has become a key part of filtering the web. Enter voting. Whether it be through Digg (for the internet at large) or through simple voting systems (for the children using Kerpoof), voting ensures that we don’t have to wade through the bad content.

Attention Spans
With an iPhone app, you have 10 seconds to pull someone in. With a movie, you might have 10 minutes (funny anecdote from Don Hahn on The Lion King choosing to have every animal in Africa appear in the first scene to achieve the “wow”). You need the initial punch in the stomach or, as David Rolfe said, you need to constantly find new ways to interrupt. Interruption gets harder as we multitask our way through life.

The Elephant in the Room
The theme of the conversation was story, story, story. All content creation, all one-way conversation. This notion seems terribly out-of-date. Consumers expect to be listened to, and if there isn’t a forum for conversation, they’ll move on.

Curation is a good first step, as it asks for interaction. But what about content creation that has always been one-way? My own key takeaway for any content creation, including tradional (film, TV) and new (blogs, Facebook and Twitter): Make sure you have a captivating storyline, functional if not innovative technology, and a feedback loop that opens the door for conversation. I do wonder what the film industry will look like in 2020.

How Google Buzz Can Impact Brand Buzz

Room 214, February 17, 2010

The number one influencer of 16-24 year olds is 16-24 year olds. I love this statement. It says so much about the power of peer influence within an age group that is so easily influenced.

It’s not a surprising statement, either. What is interesting, however, is that this statement is becoming relevant for consumers in all age brackets. 78% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations. We’re all easily influenced by each other, meaning that information sharing in social media is very valuable.

Enter this:

Google Buzz MobileGoogle Buzz Mobile Conversations

What you are looking at are screenshots of Google Buzz mobile. Not only can I see who near me is buzzing, I can see where they are. If someone is in a location I’m heading towards, I can see what they are saying. In this case, one person has just told me that the Florentine’s at a local coffee shop are more expensive than at CU Business School.

Real-Time Reviews

As more people adopt buzz, the aggregated conversations in one location can paint an incredible real-time picture of what is happening around you, based on the opinions of other people. Is your favorite restaurant out of their nightly special? Did someone have terrible customer service at the running store you’re headed to? All of this information is immediately accessible, in addition to being timely and relevant.

Large User Base

Geo-location services are by no means new. Consider, though, that Gmail’s active monthly user base is rumored to be around tens of millions (compare that to Foursquare’s 350k and MyTown’s 1mm total users). Add that to the fact that buzz is an opt-out rather than opt-in feature, and we’re likely to see a much higher adoption rate.

It’s Google

I’ve had a few debates about this since Buzz launched Tuesday, and I continue to argue this: A lot of people use Gmail. Through Gmail, a lot of people who aren’t early-adopters have tried out new Google products like docs, calendar and wave. Because these people have an established trust for what Google can bring into their lives, they’ll be willing to try out Buzz, much more so than they’d be willing to try out a similar product from an unfamiliar company. And as our designer Andy Stone pointed out, Google’s “Do No Evil” policy has also helped build trust within a distrusting consumer group.

It’s Social

Now the medium that we (or at least, I) need most on a daily basis to communicate is directly connected with a sharing function that isn’t tied to a type of content (ie Yelp for reviews, Foursquare for tips and frequency). Buzz is just thoughts.  I, for one, am going to share, and I’ll share whatever is on my mind. Freed from the constraints of types of reviews, I think we’ll soon be seeing a geo-tagged map of candid consumer thinking.

Good, Bad, Viral

This is great for the way your brand engages with individual consumers. Fast Company already took a look at user-targeted advertising through Buzz. You may soon be able to target individual consumers based on very individual habits, an act which can help build relevant and meaningful relationships, one person at a time. It also means you need to monitor and play an active role in the buzz (Buzz?) going on around your company. You can respond to any comment that is public, so any time your brand shows up on a map, you should be there to discuss. More importantly, you should be there before the discussion starts, letting us know what’s going on in your kitchen, your factory, and your main conference room.

Take, for example, Bonnaroo’s decision to let individual bands announce their presence in the 2010 lineup (along with individual announcements through MySpace). It took resourceful individuals to piece together the entire lineup, and the news spread like wildfire. What if you had a single person in your brewery Buzz about your latest creation, rather than announce it through press release? Which one would spread faster? Which one would spread organically?

Google Buzz has the potential to create huge buzz, both positive and negative. So get to using it. I am.