To bands just starting out, there remain many unanswered questions. But today, there’s one world of concerns that must be addressed first and foremost: the Wide World of Websites. In many ways, a band starting out today almost requires a web presence to even exist or function on any level. Indeed, many venues and booking agents won’t even consider a group without at minimum a link to their music online, and in some cases an EPK (electronic press kit). Fortunately, it’s also never been easier for groups to have a web presence. With simple web access, groups today quite literally have a world of music fans at their fingertips, for free. But what social/music website is best? Will Facebook or MySpace be the most helpful in your endeavors? Would iLike.com or Last.fm help you get your music to the most possible listeners? The questions abound.
Based on figures from independent agencies that compile online statistics, Facebook is one of the most popular social websites, outdoing even MySpace’s large number of monthly visits. But that doesn’t instantly mean Facebook is the most useful tool for undiscovered bands. In fact, since Facebook doesn’t currently offer vanity URL’s to general users, many bands will still find MySpace more convenient simply because it’s easier to tell fans, “Check us out at myspace.com/(myband)” The Facebook alternative has a long series of numbers following the artist name; not exactly memory-friendly. And though arguably, Facebook’s comment system is more conducive to dialogue-like exchanges with fans, MySpace also offers a host of user-friendly music charts, music coverage, and a search engine dedicated to all shows listed on the site. With all of these benefits, both MySpace and Facebook remain indispensable tools for bands starting out.
It’s impossible to assess just how many people visit Facebook or MySpace with the intention of finding music. For this reason, though both Last.fm and iLike.com post fewer views per month (based on independent website monitoring stats), because they cater to music specifically, you can assume those visiting the sites are doing so with a greater intention of listening to, and finding music. In other words, more bang for the buck you didn’t have to shell out, since both sites are also free to use. Indeed, it makes little sense to not use these sites as they also offer various integrative technologies that allow them to link to Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, as well as widgets that can be utilized on a band’s official website. Also, since both sites actively present listeners with lists of “similar artists,” your small to medium size band could very well pop up beside an accomplished artist, giving your music a chance to be heard on a larger scale.
Ironically, by offering some niche advantages that larger operations don’t, websites like Purevolume, Reverbnation, and Jambase may just prove your best bet. For example, Jambase, though open to music of all genres, offers undiscovered jambands a distinct advantage. Indeed, of all the social sites, today’s working jambands will find that Jambase offers the most targeted audience to their scene, with a very active user base of jamband fanatics who form a virtual proving ground of sorts. Another example is Reverbnation’s comprehensive widgets which allow you to post shows, bios, music, and much more. Compatible with numerous other sites, these widgets might be the quickest path to convenient and wide-ranging website integration. So what sites are right for your band? The truth is all of these sites offer the opportunity to expand your listener base, and each has their own distinct benefits and drawbacks. And though updating multiple sites is an often tedious and redundant task, to reach the maximum amount of possible fans, using as many, if not all of these sites may prove essential in your efforts.