A few weeks ago, I wrote about the culture of musician profiles on the Internet, and how effective those Web pages are at leveraging an artist’s career. With so many platforms – SoundCloud, or Artists.MTV or bands’ old-fashioned individual Web sites – managing a band’s presence online has become a daunting job in itself, especially if you’re one of those scattered, right-brained musical geniuses.
If you’ve tried to start a musical career within the last two years, you might know BandPage. It’s not another profile to keep track of, rather the iCloud of artists’ Web pages, says founder and CEO J. Sider. Artists can link their BandPage profiles to their personal Web sites, and accounts on Facebook, PledgeMusic, WordPress, and a host of others to sync their content. The BandPage profile serves a control deck where an artist can add or delete videos or tracks, or update an official bio, pushing the change to all the other accounts linked. The content shows up on BandPage-powered widgets on each platform.
What’s missing for now is an integration with the new, for now invite-only MySpace, though users can probably expect that soon. “We’re looking to promote any major platform. We don’t see anybody being excluded from this,” says Sider.
The company has been linking platforms since it was founded in 2010, but has been expanding its functionality lately. Two weeks ago, BandPage launched an integration with WordPress, and today announced that since then, artists’ fans have collectively accessed musical and promotional content through BandPage widgets on WordPress over one million times. Today the company also launched a minor new feature, allowing artists to sync their profile pictures across Facebook, SoundCloud and Twitter.
Some (relatively) bigger names in the industry like Taking Back Sunday or M83 use BandPage to power their Web sites, but the service’s features are clearly a boon for unsigned and indie artists, who don’t have social media and online managers to look over all of their content. The quintessential user, Sider says, is the gigging band that gets a last minute call from a club promoter who pushes the performance time back an hour. “And inevitably, the one who knows how to code a Web site or run the CMS is unavailable,” he says. (Though Sider is quick to point out that his company is different from a musical version of HootSuite, which primarily pushes out status updates.)
It’s not going to revolutionize the online music space, but it’s a genuinely useful utility for a band actively trying to maintain a dynamic presence on the internet. The real question is how valuable that presence is in terms of generating concert attendance or music sales. Sider argues that a more robust profile on something like PledgeMusic — essentially a Kickstarter for musical artists — will compel users to donate more money. But it remains to be seen what kind of conversion there can be when the goal is not fundraising (which in itself might attract a user who is feeling more charitable than most), but garnering enough real affection for a band that a user supports them offline.
The Internet is still too fragmented a place for artists to have any real sense of home online. iTunes has the best shot at ubiquity, but that, of course, is primarily a distribution channel and not a community. Same with Spotify, though its API is trying – with little luck so far – to cobble together a hub. MySpace is the latest to try, and it’s got a slick product design, but its uphill battle is Sisyphean.
But if all these different Web properties can’t form a more cohesive gathering place for artists online, at least they can maybe be in the same neighborhood. For mainstream artists, BandPage seems mostly inconsequential; it’s a nice way to do things, but they have the resources to get by without it. But for indies who are adopting at promising numbers, BandPage could possibly be the electric current that powers the musical neighborhood. Anything to give the space a jolt.