DIY Update: Facebook As The New MySpace
MySpace is dead. Oh, it’s still out there, but isn’t worth your band's precious time anymore. If it wasn’t clear its downfall was coming when sold to News Corp., then it should have been clear when sold to ad network Specific Media this year. The social network, while terrible on usability and reliability, did wonders for the music industry in its heyday by giving bands a place where they could host their music for free streaming. While other sites would also host songs for streaming, being the top social network resulted in every band creating a MySpace profile and the site becoming the go-to destination to hear a band’s music.
MySpace has been losing users and mindshare for years now, with Facebook and its superior interaction model rocketing to the top of the social network pack. Still, while hinting at music services, Facebook took their time delivering any sort of music integration, keeping MySpace relevant to the music world long after it had been made irrelevant as a social networking platform. Eventually, YouTube surpassed MySpace as the primary place where users search for music (albeit much of its content consists of infringing uploads), and the writing was on the wall about MySpace's imminent demise.
Facebook Pages were enough to draw bands to Facebook to network with their fans on the largest social network in the world. Then Facebook opted not to create “Facebook Music,” but instead support music via applications that integrate with other services and a more direct integration with streaming services such as Spotify, MOG, and Earbits.
As the current #1 social media site and now as large as the entire Internet was in 2004, Facebook is a great place for social media addicts to promote their band and engage with fans and make new fans. But can Facebook be what MySpace was to bands and more?
In this article, we’ll take a look at a few applications that can be used to turn your band’s Facebook page into a destination where users can hear your music, much like MySpace was at its peak, but without the errors and crappy/bloated designs.
ReverbNation is a social network focused on music (artists, labels, management, venues and fans) that caught on fairly well, especially as MySpace began its decline. The service itself tries to do a lot of things, from hosting music streams and downloads and embeddable widgets, blogs, show listings, and an integrated store, and fan mailing list, while allowing for on-site fan interaction as well. The service has a paid plan, which adds some premium features, but is not required for most bands or to embed their Facebook app on your band’s Facebook page.
ReverbNation's Facebook app includes most of the site's functionality right in the app itself: a music player, tour dates, band bio, press quotes and more. It also shows your Facebook wall below the application so visitors can read your updates while listening to your music.
The BandPage Facebook application by RootMusic is quite simply a music player for your Facebook page. The application can stream music from Soundcloud or videos from YouTube, the latter of which doesn’t require a YouTube channel or account, but can embed any video from the service. This reliance on other services can be seen as both an advantage and disadvantage in various scenarios.
The music player doesn’t take up as much space as the ReverbNation app, however, and the band’s Facebook Wall can be shown below it. Setting your BandPage as the default landing page for visitors gives them both the music and interaction on a single page.
bandcamp itself is a must-have service for any unsigned band, as it lets you sell digital downloads as well as physical products very cost-effectively.
bandcamp just recently announced the release of their Facebook app, which essentially puts your bandcamp page right into Facebook, minus the template customization but with an option to upload a custom banner to fit Facebook’s specifications. As such, management of this app is painless.
Unlike the other apps, your wall posts are not shown below the bandcamp portion, so users can’t easily browse your wall while listening to your music. This oversight may be corrected in the future, since this is the first iteration of bandcamp’s Facebook application. But the main advantage of this app is that it allows bands to sell downloads and physical products right on their Facebook page. (Note: a Paypal account is required to accept payment on bandcamp or the Facebook app).
Which Should You Choose?
I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of ReverbNation’s Faceboook app. Much like the service itself, the Facebook app tries to display too much information, looks too busy, and takes up way too much space as a result. Showing your Facebook page’s Wall posts 2-4 screen lengths down below all this information is practically pointless. However, if your band has had good success leveraging ReverbNation as a social network and manages much of its information like shows and blog posts on there and uses the fan mailing list features, then it makes sense to use the ReverbNation Facebook app to continue funnelling fans and leads through that same service.
I’ve been using RootMusic’s BandPage on Metalunderground.com’s Facebook page for some time and I like it. The player is small enough to let the user scroll down to the Wall posts below to read while listening. The app is easy enough to set up and manage, but you may have to set up a SoundCloud account if you don’t have videos that you’d like to embed from YouTube. The feature set for the free edition is also pretty good and lets users share individual songs on their walls, embedding a player into the wall/feed post, download songs from Soundcloud, and more.
bandcamp’s Facebook app is the new kid on the block. The big advantage of this app is that it not only lets users stream your music, but it doubles as a store. Users can buy your music and products right on your Facebook page, just like they were on your bandcamp page. As previously mentioned, your wall posts are not shown below the bandcamp app, so users can’t easily browse your updates while listening to your music, which I find to be a drawback of this app. The audio player, like on the site, unfortunately omits a volume control, which is a big pet peeve of mine, and quite possibly tips the scales in favor of the BandPage player.
In the end, I’m undecided as to whether I prefer RootMusic’s BandPage over bandcamp’s app, but I would recommend them both over ReverbNation’s app, unless (as previously mentioned) you’re already having success with that service. Perhaps bands can use both a BandPage and bandcamp page - set up a BandPage as the default landing page for users to hear their music and read their updates (wall posts), and set up the bandcamp app as a separate page that acts more like an online store, and label it as such.
One thing is certain: every band should have a Facebook page (don’t set up a personal profile for your band, as there are limitations on them that are not on Facebook Pages) and allow users to hear their music right there...just like the good old days of MySpace.
Which application do you prefer to let fans hear your band’s music on Facebook? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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