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Saturday
Aug292009

Idea: Musician's own website as definitive source of all info.

Musicians spend too much time entering their data on multiple websites. Filling out forms. Uploading MP3s. Uploading photos. Entering dates and venues into concert calendars. Pasting lyrics and bio. All those stupid profiles scattered around the web, which of course will soon be outdated unless they’re constantly updated.

Some outside sites say, “We’ll manage all your data!” - but I don’t want to go to yet-another-website to enter all of my data, and trust them not to go out of business. In fact, I don’t want to enter my info anywhere but my own website!

So, I think the musician’s own “.com” homepage website should be the one-and-only place the musician ever has to enter their info. It should be the sole definitive source for their music, photos, bio, lyrics, calendar, blog, and especially their fan/friend/email list.

Then it’s the web hosting company’s job to spread that info other sites.

How it works for the musician:

  1. Log in to your own website.
  2. Recorded a new song? Upload the master-quality audio file
  3. While it’s uploading, enter the song info: name, copyright, credits, lyrics, sample-start-time, etc.
  4. Booked a new show? Enter the date and venue info.
  5. Have a new photo or bio? Enter it just once in your site.
  6. That’s it. You’ll never need to enter that info or upload that song ever again.

You own all your data, and your web-host makes it easy to get a backup any time, like mailing you a USB drive.

Then your web-host can do the boring copying:

Your web-hosting company gives you some simple options:

Do you want us to send this to...
[x] MySpace
[x] Facebook
[x] iTunes
[x] Amazon
[ ] Napster
[ ] Pandora
[ ] Spotify
[ ] ReverbNation

You’d give them your account details for the places where you already have an account, or at the others, they could create an account for you.

Best of all: all of this extra service is included for free in your basic webhosting package, as thanks to you for choosing to host your website there. (Assuming the standard web-hosting rate of $10-$20/month.) They don’t need to take a percentage of sales or anything. The $10-$20/month webhosting fee has plenty of profit margin to cover everything.

How it works on the back-end:

For some websites, the distribution can be automated. The web host sends a server-to-server message to the remote company’s servers, adding the necessary info and files. This is how digital distribution of music already works.

For other sites like MySpace and Facebook, there can be some quick simple human labor. An employee quickly logs into your MySpace page (with your permission) and uploads the song, info, photos or calendar, using the super-fast internet connection.

The trickiest part would be copying the friend/fan list from multiple sites back into your one definitive master database of fans/friends.

Because the company does it for dozens of clients per day, they can do it incredibly fast and cheap, so they don’t need to charge extra for this hands-on service.

But where it gets really exciting is for the company to set up an open API where any outside companies can pull information directly from the source!

That way, any new music websites could launch with instant access to thousands of musicians, with the most up-to-date info, and not need to host any of the audio, images, or text on their site. Everything be pulled real-time from your site using the API.

So if you changed a photo, removed a song, renamed a song, or even changed the name of the band, it would all be changed instantly on ALL sites, worldwide.

Who’s doing it?

ArtistData is awesome, and the closest I’ve seen to this idea, but they don’t host websites (yet). I heard of them after I came up with this idea two years ago. I was still at HostBaby then, and honestly everything I described above was my plan for “HostBaby 3.0”. Maybe they’ll still do it. If not, I hope someone does.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mmqb01/468351110/

Reader Comments (15)

I think this could be possible with extensions/addons for tools like Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress, etc...

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterJimbalaya

You said it! The future -- survival even -- for musicians is in convergence.

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterAllen Shadow

This is a nice concept and sounds similar to the "social media hub" idea I've used in my day job of social media marketing for blue chips. The autoposting/profile thing can probably be done with a combo of tools out there (such as ping.fm and posterous), but there is a definite opportunity for a service that offers the idea you detail. If/When Facebook Connect becomes ubiquitous it should offer a chance to just put in your information once and then that is cross pollinated; other contenders are Google and MySpace - the battle for your personal info is just beginning!

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterMark Edmondson

I'm not sure if this is a good idea. First, similar services and WP plugins exist since years and haven't really reached mentionable popularity. Every better music distributor do all these things - with real humans.

Second, and that's the critical part: IMO, the process mentioned above could be described as "brute-force-marketing". it's ineffective and inefficient. one of the key part in effective social network marketing is to wisely use each community's own target audience.

People and Facebook want a completely different content presentation than, for example, myspace. Every community has it's very own language and communication "style". You'll just host a dozen dead profiles if you don't respect these things. An automated content distribution system cannot do this. It's just a big spam machine.

Twitter, Myspace, Soundclick, Youtube, Last.fm, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, Blogs have all very distinct target audiences and purposes. A musician might use soundcloud to collaborate with other musicians, use myspace to present new songs, Facebook to directly communicate with the fans, last.fm to monitor the own popularity, Soundclick to licence accapellas for remixes, etc.

What happens if all these pages contain exactly the same content? The fans will be annoyed, that's sure. They'll feel like consumers and not fans.

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterFabien

I couldn't agree more, and we're looking at building the solution that achieves something like this. It's easier said than done, of course, but this concept is a kind of holy grail for artists, and even labels.

Thanks for the post.

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Shoesmith

@Fabien -- I appreciate the contrarian perspective. I don't agree but it's good food for thought.

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

Another perspective: instead of trying for ubiquity, maybe artists should focus on three or four locations where they're most likely to get a good ROI for their time, and automate everything else.

Frankly, I suspect that when artists complain about updating bunches of profiles, they're also saying "I don't feel engaged by these networks enough to spend time there." If you don't enjoy using a particular network, you're not going to be very good at engaging fans there, and it will show.

Focus 80% of your effort on the 20% that get the most results. Put the remaining 20% into the other networks via automation or whatever.

Remember that a key part of building a tribe is fostering a sense of belonging and exclusivity. You don't build tribes by including everyone.

August 30 | Unregistered Commenterscottandrew

Hmmm. This one has me torn. Do we really need to distribute all of this information to multiple sites, e.g. MySpace and Facebook?
I can see the need to distribute your music, or merch wares, to iTune and Amazon, but all of the other info as well - bio, show dates, lyrics? Why don't you just drive more people to the bands site for this info and leave it at that? Then send a tweet to your fans saying the site has been updated. Or better yet, add RSS to your site so it sends out this info for you.

Dave Lopez - Mixing and Mastering Specialist
Cr@zyEye Music Services
Marketing Music Online

August 31 | Unregistered CommenterDave Lopez

Check out Posterous, Steve Rubel has been evangelizing their platform for the past couple months.

Everything is done through email and bookmarklets. Though not specifically tailored for musicians, it's a good start.

August 31 | Unregistered Commenterreid

I was enthusiastic about Artist Data when they first came out, but after trying the site, it appeared they only published/syndicated out live show data. A master syndication tool like what Derek is suggesting would obviously be great, but I haven't seen anyone execute this well enough for us to use it.

September 1 | Unregistered CommenterEric Galen

I have just started my own website and that is exactly what I am trying to achieve. My announcements are sent to myspace and fb via RSS. Not to become a "spam machine" I will limit these to max once a month, like an overview of the months concerts with a link to the details page or new releases. The problem are the dates, as neither myspace nor fb accept any import at all, neither csv nor ical. Reverbnation is pretty nice in accepting csv imports. I really couldn't spend the time to fill in all the concerts 3 times, so right now on myspace I have a link to my site for concerts, and I don't create fb events for my gigs. The site is built with drupal, it allows ical and csv exports. I tried ArtistData and liked it, but at this point I don't really need it.

September 1 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Alaçam

Definitely agree with the vision here Derek. Talking specifically about the actual tracks/music (rather than a bands general info) people like Lucas Gonze and Eric Wahlforss have been talking about similar themes for a while eg. the idea of your music having it's own URL/permalink as the definitive source. Whether the musician, label or third party service own and host that permalink is another good question.

For the record, there are parts of all this which SoundCloud is doing already (or are on their way to doing). For example you can 'authorize' and 'connect' your SoundCloud account to Myspace, Facebook and Twitter to automatically send all your uploaded tracks to those destinations. And posting to Wordpress, Posterous, Blogger etc is just a click away.

SoundCloud has an API so that it's super easy for any other service to build an integration to allow their users to either export their music to SoundCloud (eg. an iPhone app that let's you upload recorded audio to SoundCloud) or import their audio directly into their service (without the need for yet another upload!).

As we see more platforms build API's and more open web standards emerge (like OAuth, OEmbed, OpenID) etc this will all become much easier allowing musicians to really harness the full potential of the interwebs :)


(disclaimer: I work for SoundCloud)

September 2 | Unregistered CommenterDave Haynes

Thanks for this article. I've been implementing the ".com homebase" strategy with my clients for the past few months, even wrote about it in my thesis (Diddy and Kanye West both have sites that achieve this effect). It's essential that the artist's own website is the focal point of the digital music strategy for control and easy updating.

It can be rather time consuming going to various sites and updating information. ReverbNation does some syndication/automatic updating with Twitter and Facebook, and they've added the digital distribution option within the past year. Nevertheless, you're right...I have yet to find that perfect solution.

What does that mean? Well, you've inspired me to come up with that "automatic" solution...gotta get to work!

September 6 | Unregistered CommenterAlandis B

"I don’t want to go to yet-another-website to enter all of my data, and trust them not to go out of business. In fact, I don’t want to enter my info anywhere but my own website! "

The only way that could be done on your own website is to install some kind of software. It would be extremely inefficient for every band and musician in the world to install exactly the same software on every website. If you mean you would access the data entry forms through your web host's control panel, well that's not your website is it? And the fundamental flaw of your idea is that your web host is just as likely to go out of business. Also I believe you are way too optimistic about web hosts' willingness to do all of this for no extra charge. What you're talking about requires a great deal of person-hours for software development, maintenance, and daily operation.

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterKenric Ashe

Also, most musicians/bands, at least until they can afford it, don't even have websites.

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterKenric Ashe

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