Ten Most Popular Artist/Musician iPhone App Strategies Reviewed

29 07 2009


Akon Death Cab for Cutie  Wilco DMB       

When thinking about the future of music and artist content, one must now consider the myriad of possible distribution platforms now available to musicians.  Whether it be iTunes, a subscription service, P2p file-sharing, or services like Soundcloud, one thing is certain, the idea of bundled content (like the album) is slowly becoming something of the past.  Now record companies, entrepreneurs, and technology providers are scrambling to find the next best thing to the once lucrative physical album.  

Mobile applications seem to offer some very unique features for musicians from direct-to-fan contact, in-app mobile stores, and music streaming capabilities. Many artist’s apps are offered for free and grant access to a bundle of content in hopes that the app serves as a promotional tool and drive sales. The problem is that most of these artists apps do not provide any sort of real value to the user.  This is a major problem seeing as though the majority of the top 25 apps in the iTunes app store consist of practical applications that provide services or benefits.   Therefore, I decided to review 10 of the most popular free apps available in the iTunes store to understand how labels and artists are approaching the application concept.  Here are some of the best practices, as well as an overview of all 10 apps reviewed: 

Best Practices

The apps that I consider to be best in class offer a value to the user that would encourage continuous use over time in terms of community, content, and direct artist contact. 


The Akon, Lady Gaga, and Soulja Boy apps are all powered by Kyte ( an online video-streaming community).  This allows for some really great things such as user rated videos, live chat rooms, and exclusive mobile video streamed directly from the artists.

The DMB app allows users to sign in with their Twitter account allowing for easy communication with band and the fan community.  The app also allows users to upload user-generated-content such as photos from concerts and contains a fan chat room.  


The Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, and Black Lips apps provide streaming of full tracks and albums on the app.  The app will also function while audio is streamed (a feature that is not found with the iTunes 30sec samples). 

Santana offers guitar lessons via the mobile app provide something of true value to Santana fans. 

The Wilco application has an extensive selection of podcasts from the band. 


The Dead and DMB applications offer exclusive content from the band such as Tweets during live shows.

Update:  Here are 5 ways to create a killer music app based on this research 

Read the rest of this entry »

15 Essential Web Tools For The Musician – Say Goodbye to the Record Label

15 07 2009

Here is a short list of 15 useful websites for musicians that I have discovered over the last couple of weeks. Many of these services are still in their beta versions so keep an eye out for them as they continue to grow and offer some pretty awesome products and services. Social media tools have enabled developers to find solutions for almost all facets of the music business, including band & tour management, e-commerce, digital distribution, music promotion, and metrics. Having an arsenal of tools like these may prove to eliminate the need of a record label for the do-it-yourself musician. In the right hands these tools may create some awesome social media success stories for good musicians.

Anyone have any success stories out there yet? 

Band Management

Band Central – Online band management offering some pretty awesome tools that would make any DIY musicians life just a little bit easier. Tools include social media management, gig manager, band finances, easy file sharing, SMS fan alerts, and a centralized message board to help band communication.

Tour Management

Live Music Machine – Connects bands and fans through an online multimedia portal and portable widget. This service makes booking and managing gigs easier than ever, allowing fans, promoters, bar owners etc. to book an artist with the click of a button.

Eventful – Leading events website that enables its community to discover, share, promote, and create events. The Eventful Demand feature allows fans to demand appearances by musicians in their hometowns. Performers are able to use Eventful Demand to make informed decisions about where to appear and can communicate with their Demanders via highly targeted email tool.

Superfan – A social game based on collecting and contributing to all your favorites in order to become a super fan of your favorite musician, actor, comedian etc. This site creates a centralized location for your fan base allowing them to connect, share, and eventually become your #1 superfan.

Digital Distribution

Bandcamp – A free publishing platform for bands, provides artists with the most relevant content management and social marketing tools, with a super clean interface and friendly user management system. Allows visitors to purchase mp3’s in multiple formats – from the lowest quality to the highest – and features some awesome visualizers for streaming music.

Tunecore – Digital distribution across the majority of mainstream digital music channels such as iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Limewire, etc. with no cut of the royalty percentage

Music Promotion – Discovery Networks

The Sixty-One – Combines the likes of a social network, music portal, and an interactive gaming experience. Members are given different “quests” such as listening to the other users playlists for a set amount of time, or listen to five songs of your favorite new artist. As individuals complete quests, they earn points and credibility, allowing community members to build social capital while also creating a unique, fun, and valuable experience. Excellent for independent artists to gain listeners and build a fan base.

Stereofame – Stereofame is a social music game that brings fans and artists together and empowers artists and listeners to determine what’s hot by creating virtual record labels. Features excellent social networking features, a music store, and monthly contests.

MOGWith thousands of contributions from music lovers and the top 300 music blogs that make up the network, MOG generates over 6,000 music blog posts per week, all hand-curated to deliver the web’s best daily music newspaper. MOG members receive personalized music recommendations and blog posts designed and chosen just for them.

Our Stage – Our Stage is a music discovery network that allows fans to artists to connect. Members are given the opportunity to vote on up and coming artists tracks, allowing the best musicians to be featured on Our Stage charts and streaming radio channels. OurStage also hosts contests and rewards the top artists by connecting them with industry professionals.

Music MogulThe world’s first online music world for independent artists. Musicians are allowed to post video, then promote their music to the online fan community. Every 90 days an artist will be chosen by online peers and a celebrity panel to win a chance to record a three song demo with a Grammy award winning producer. Artists even have the opportunity to preform live through music mogul to the global online audience.

Measuring Success

Band Metrics provides a first-of-its-kind semantic web application for the music industry that collects, analyzes and displays dynamic popularity and trends about musicians and bands from across the web. It’s a great solution for independent artists to understand the drivers of their music’s popularity, and their fans’ sentiments towards their music.

Band Metrics

Echo Nest – Fanylitics – The Echo Nest’s Fanalytics is the web’s first targeted online music promotion system — it acts like a recommendation engine for music marketers. Fanalytics understands the specific tastes of every music writer on the web and helps you find the writers most likely to review your music.

Rock Dex – Powered by Music Arsenal, this tool scours the social web and music sites to judge your bands social buzz, social media presence, fan base, and number of listens. The tool generates grades out of 100 and offers suggestions to help boost your Rock Dex score.

We Are HuntedWe Are Hunted listens to what people are saying about artists and their music on blogs, social networks like Facebook and MySpace, message boards and forums, Twitter and P2P networks to chart the top songs online everyday. Essentially a billboard chart for the social media space.

Bookmark and Share

Musicians Lead by Example with Innovative Social Media Strategies

14 07 2009

I have been reading a lot of blogs and articles recently about large, well-known corporations who have undertaken social media strategies with really no idea how to utilize social tools to generate, what they consider, a profitable investment. I blame this on a sense of apathy for innovation in exchange for other tried and true business practices such as utilizing mass media and the traditional push marketing strategies. But what happens when an industry is turned upside down, not by choice, but by disruptive technology.

The Crowded Musisphere

Enter Napster of 1999, the iTunes of 2001, and now the almost unlimited number of sources for digital music distribution existing today. With the traditional business model of physical unit sales and terrestrial radio promotion dying, artists and labels are hanging on by adopting digital distribution models, social media strategies, and direct artist-to-fan connections.

Music now thrives on digital and many musicians have led the way with some excellent social media strategies. This shift from mega-distribution to do-it-yourself, has given independent musicians an opportunity to find creative ways to promote themselves as individuals and their music. It is very important for social media marketers to keep an eye on musicians and the music industry — after all we did force them to become early adopters.

Here is a short list of musicians to watch who have used and are currently using some pretty innovative strategies to sell their music:

Umprhey’s McGee:

Using Twitter For a Festival Scavenger Hunt
Innovative CD Release – Word of Mouth Genius

Amanda Palmer:

Using Twitter to Gross 19,000 in 19 hours

Zoe Keating:

Indie Cellist Explodes on Twitter

Josh Freese

$20,000 for Mini-Golf With Rock Stars – Now That’s Engagement

Anyone else to add to the list??

Bookmark and Share