Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is MySpace or Facebook better for musicians?

I created my own MySpace profile more than a year ago and despite not really doing much with it, I've gotten over 800 profile views. So I've decided to upload a few songs to MySpace to see if the profile views are real and if they'll actually translate into plays of the songs.

Still, I have far more friends on Facebook than MySpace. So, I've also created a Facebook musician page and made the same songs available there. I actually started creating the page many months ago but just didn't publish it. I had wanted to add a music player first so that people could actually listen to songs on the page. However, the Facebook player required me to scan in a legal form of identification and to send that for approval so that Facebook could authenticate whether I really had the rights to upload the songs. This was a bit of a hassle and so for quite some time I just didn't do it. This past weekend, I decided to look at some alternatives and found out that I can use the iLike music player instead. So I created an iLike profile and added the app to my Facebook musician page. The iLike Song player automatically includes links to iTunes so people can buy and download the songs that they like. The iLike Facebook page also automatically searches for related videos on YouTube and invites listeners to suggest videos as well. Pretty cool.

I haven't found a way to link to iTunes from my MySpace profile, yet. It seems that MySpace should allow you to link up to Amazon -- where my songs are also available. But I haven't figured out how to do this. If anyone knows anything about this, let me know.

Creating a separate musician page on Facebook is nice because it splits out friends from fans. While you may want to keep your list of friends on the more personal side, you may be less sensitive about having your fan base grow untethered. There are a couple of drawbacks, though. First, you may discover that you really have absolutely no fans whatsoever and that your friends don't really care for your music. Although this can be somewhat bruising at first, I think it's better to know this now so that you can starting find the people that do care and avoid spamming those that don't. Second, it's awkward to have to add yourself as a fan of yourself, as Facebook encourages you to do. When you do, you basically broadcast to all of your friends that you are a fan of yourself, which just sounds silly. I'd prefer that when you publish your musician page, Facebook would simply send out a status update to your friends that indicates that you've done this -- and include a link to the page so people can check it out.

One thing that I'm particularly unhappy with Facebook, MySpace, and iLike about is that there's no native support for pulling an RSS feed from an external blog and have it automatically populate each profile. I don't want to have to copy blog posts from my blog to each profile. So instead my only recourse was to look for and add third-party RSS readers to the profiles. None of the readers is perfect, but I've found a couple of decent apps that I'm currently using.

In addition to comparing the organic listener growth (if any) from each social network, it'll be interesting to explore and compare the feature sets and usability of each service as well. I'll write more about what I find out in future posts.