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The road to über-fandom, however, begins with free, said Union SquareVentures partner Fred Wilson, who invested in Turntable.fm.“Free is really important,” Wilson said. “Discovery has to be free. It’sgot to be something where you can jump into it an experience and startlistening. Maybe [you] find stuff and maybe you don’t. But I don’t thinkpeople are going to pay for that.”Paid models will work, but Wilson believes people need to be able todiscover for free. In other words, he argued that the “freemium” modelis more attractive to the consumer who requires a friction-free environ-ment in order to try anything new.Being free, however, is just the first bread crumb in a long series of possible incentives to draw in paying fans. Google Music head of globalprogramming Tim Quirk believes that online services that have a bewil-dering selection of music require a completely different approach thanjust making a digital replica of the record store clerk portrayed by JackBlack in “High Fidelity” who tells customers what they should listen to.In a digital world, being a tastemaker is overrated, Quirk said. Farmore important is “imposing order on chaos,” he said. “The explosion of content has created a new, less sexy need. Telling the entire world what itshould or shouldn’t listen to has become far less important than simplymaking this overgrown musical jungle navigable. Online music servicesneed bushwhackers carving paths from one starting point to another.”This is particularly true of free-access services like Spotify, YouTubeand Pandora, as well as such online stores as Google Play, Amazon’s MP3store and iTunes that carry millions of tracks.Quirk’s conclusion: “We’re not gatekeepers. We’re not tastemakers.We’re park rangers.”A good example of the park ranger model is an app created by Blue NoteRecords for the iPad and Spotify. Users of the Spotify app, which guidespeople to jazz musicians on its label, spend an average of two-and-a-half hours listening on the app, Blue Note president Don Was said.The iPad app, downloaded 30,000 times in its first five days of releasein October, lets free users listen to 30-second samples of more than 1,000songs while exploring session photos, album covers, live performance vid-eos, historic newspaper clippings and playlists compiled by musicians andjazz experts. Paying $1.99 per month converts the samples to full-lengthsongs from jazz legends like Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon and Art Blakey.The iPad app has led users to purchase songs and albums, said Ber-trand Bodson, executive VP of global digital at EMI, which owns BlueNote and can track user purchases on iTunes.In addition to reintroducing catalog albums and artists to new listen-ers, the app is also letting Blue Note debut new releases to a targeted au-dience of jazz fans, Bodson said. He noted that, thanks to the app’s highuser engagement, EMI is looking to continually expand the app’s catalog.
Hand-crafted curation may work within well-defined verticals like jazz, butit’s more difficult for broader genres. Other approaches to helping peoplediscover new music within sprawling databases include collaborative filter-ing (Amazon customers who like Neil Young also listen to Jackson Browne),social recommendations (a friend with similar music tastes is now listeningto these tracks on Spotify), genre programming by knowledgeable DJs onSlacker or people-powered playlists created around music subgenres, timeof day, user activity or mood from Songza or Playground.fm.Digital services that may have relied on one method have evolved toincorporate several methods—co-mingling the “rocket science” of algo-rithms with the artistic discretion of people. That’s because a single ap-proach rarely covers the entire waterfront.“The most useful online music services are the ones that arrange thebest marriages between brilliant robots and unpredictable humans,”Quirk said.Ford Motor director of research and development Jim Buczkowski sug-gested that cars in the future could sense a driver’s mood in order to custom-ize a suitable playlist. “We want cars to be able to create experiences that arefine-tuned to you,” he said. The challenge with cars, of course, is that usershave minimal ability to interact with the vehicle’s entertainment systembecause “drivers have to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes onthe road.” As a result, automated personalization is even more importantin the car, when users can’t spend time interacting with millions of tracks.Underlying all discovery efforts, however, is metadata—what NARMVP of digital strategy Bill Wilson calls the “unsexy stuff that sustainsdigital businesses,” adding, “Everything else is just curb appeal. With-out accurate and complete metadata, all you have is a nice façade but nofloorboards, plumbing or wiring inside your house.”Google Music’s Quirk put it another way: People can’t discover and buywhat they’re unable to find. That means getting the right information—such as release dates, artist credits, album SKUs and song types—cor-rectly, allowing users to find music and services to accurately slice anddice recommendations and playlists.“If you get that piece wrong,” Quirk said, “nothing else matters.”••••
Different recommenda-tions for different people.Point listeners to artiststhat they’re most likely toenjoy, not artists you wishthey would enjoy. As “parkrangers,” Google Music’sTim Quirk said, “our jo isto keep [the paths] main-tained so visitors to ourpark can choose their ownadventure.”There should e nodead ends, Quirk said.All “trails” or Wepages should haverecommendations thatlead users to another,related location.Context is more usefulthan opinion. “It’s moreimportant to give peopleackground informationon what they’re listeningto than it is to tell themwhether you like it or not,”Quirk said.
What artists cando to help fans findand fall in loveWith them
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andage CO J Sider saidartist profiles have fivebasic coponents: usic,photos, videos, bios andshows. rtists who haveall five drive uch oreeaningful engageentthan those with fewer ele-ents. “If ou want to akethose conversions, fill outthose profiles,” Sider said.
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For soe bands, their Face-book pages represent theirpriar online presence.That’s not enough. “Whenou add one additional site,ou get 50% ore traf-fic,” Sider said. “dding twosites boosts our traffic b75%. Facebook is a verpowerful driver, but thereare a lot of other placesfans can interact with ou.What surprised us is howuch traffic there is onthe open Web outside ofFacebook.” Other placesto build one’s Web pres-ence: Google+, youTube andobile, through app gen-erators like Conduit mo-bile that let bands build aobile app using data frotheir eisting website.
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nsuring our band’s eta-data is correct on such ser-vices as Rovi’s ll musicGuide, iTunes, Spotif andelsewhere is crucial to ak-ing sure people find ou.
PRIMARY ONLINEPRESENCE+50%TRAFFIC INCREASEBY ADDING 1 SITE+75%TRAFFIC INCREASEBY ADDING 2 SITES
Friending The Band
artists should look beyond facebook to drive fan traffic