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How do musicians & bands deal with mobile apps?

19 Sep 2015

This is a big question I am asking myself this week, and a question I am also asking myself is how MyMusicStream can deal with this issue. The main issue musicians and bands are currently facing is the shift from web to mobile apps and how they can still engage directly with their fans, short of building their own mobile app. But who wants yet another mobile app to install, let alone one for every band they like? Fans prefer to use a couple of apps for their music, leading the charge in recent years has been Spotify.

Before the mobile app market boomed we had MP3 upload websites where you could set up a profile for your band and upload your music for users of the website. After a while you had profiles on dozens of websites, and had fans fragmented across them. After that came social networking in the form of Myspace, which dropped off the face of the earth when Facebook came about. Around that time though the MP3 upload sites started to evolve or be replaced by streaming music communities. MyMusicStream was one of them, but the bigger ones were the likes of PureVolume, SoundClick, Last.fm, BandCamp, SoundCloud and dozens more. There was also ReverbNation, which always confused me what it was actually trying to be or do.

So where are we at currently? Well, everything has of course gone mobile. With the recent launch of Apple Music we are starting to see what I always believed in, that streaming music is the future and it is cross device. Funny that I thought about this in 2005 when I registered the domain name mymusicstream.com, yet back then people couldn't understand what it meant. "Sorry, is that my music scream...?" I used to get as a response to me telling them what the site was called. At this moment in time seems there are streaming music services appearing everywhere, and the market is already rather competitive with Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Rdio, Pandora, Amazon Prime and many more. Personally I have Spotify and Apple music, which seems to cover most of what I listen to, except I don't seem to be discovering any independent or smaller artists through these apps.

I recently read a report in the USA showing people are spending more time on mobile apps than watching TV! I'm not surprised by this as I get public transport home from work and see almost every single person glued to their mobile devices. What does this mean? Basically that music listeners time is spent on a smaller number of apps, rather than browsing the web looking for music on a large number of websites. When they want to listen to music, they just go to their music app. People take in life the path of least resistance, well most do anyway.

So how do artists engage with fans in these current times? A musician or band still should have a mobile friendly website as their permanent home on the web. I actually think these days however the website should be less complex and featured than it was several years ago, but it just should be enough so that die hard fans will visit and join a mailing list, listen to some new tracks, view some photos, videos, etc. It should look awesome still, but it should be simple and work across various devices. But reality is only those die hard fans will actually visit your website. The larger audience will simple listen to your music on their app if its available, and if they want maybe look at your profile within that app.

I work on MyMusicStream to provide a service for musicians and bands to manage their website, and each website is a direct-to-fan engagement tool for artists. However, the issue now is that fans are engaging on mobile apps more than on websites. The big difference being that it's ok for a person to browse many websites, but they are not going to install that many music apps. The band website still and always will have its place, but do I now create a single MyMusicStream mobile app for both artists and music listeners? How do I do this without confusing people as to what MyMusicStream is and does? Most of all, how do I keep things simple and pay for expensive and ongoing development costs? How can artists earn money? Do artists understand how much money it costs to build all this stuff? How do listeners pay for this? Will they pay for this? So many questions. Back to work.