I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Music Social Networking: A Comparison of iLike, Reverbnation and Soundcloud

Music Social Networking: A Comparison of iLike, Reverbnation and Soundcloud: "
In this article the focus is on three online platforms which have a specific focus on music: iLike, Reverbnation and Soundcloud. Over the past few weeks I have been ‘test-driving’ these sites, primarily from the perspective of a record label, and the aim of this article is to present a summary of their main features whilst looking at how well they can be used alongside other social networking platforms, as discussed in last month’s article on web integration. I will also touch on the ability of these websites to act as ‘central hubs’ which was highlighted as being important in last month’s article.
The large benefit of all three sites is that they allow you to control your musical content from a central location and by integrating them with other websites you can keep that content up to date just by updating music in one location.
Kelvin K has also written an informative article specifically aimed at artists/musicians about improving your online presence through social networking and integration. Read it here. iLike
  • Overall iLike is more suited to artists than record labels. It doesn’t allow a record label to set up a specific account that allows them to showcase their artists’ music. The only way I found to include content from my record label was to pretend to be an artist and name the music files carefully.
  • iLike was developed as the music application for social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo and therefore has excellent integration options on such sites. For an example visit Lost My Dog on Facebook and click on the music tab.
  • It will pull in a Youtube feed which is a feature unique to iLike and also a Twitter feed so you can share that content on your iLike profile page (it will also display this on your Facebook page in a ‘Music’ tab)
  • It allows you to write a blog which can also be posted to your Myspace blog area. However, unfortunately it does not allow you to import a feed from another website meaning you have to update the iLike blog manually.
  • iLike will automatically search iTunes to link to your music so the artist and track names have to be set up exactly as in iTunes for it to find. In my experience this function rarely works and definitely won’t work if setting up a record label profile. iLike includes an iTunes link next to each track by default which can be frustrating when the link doesn’t work or if your music isn’t available on iTunes. It does, however, allow you to include additional links on your profile page which you could populate with direct store links.
  • Due to its good integration, iLike is good for fans who want to include your artists’ music on their profile pages on sites such as Facebook and Bebo.
  • iLike could be used as a hub site as it allows you to post up info in a blog and showcase music, then automatically populate a number of other websites with this information.
  • iLike is free to use
  • Reverbnation is an excellent resource for artists/musicians and while it does have a specific account type for record labels the options are limited. For example it is not possible to import an RSS feed in the way that an artist account will allow you to, and crucially a record label can’t upload music to their profile.
  • Record label accounts in Reverbnation are based on linking to artists and therefore rely on artists keeping their own individual pages and music up to date. There is an option for an artist to allow the label to manage their page, but unless you are a label owner who only releases music you create yourself or a label with exclusive artists then it’s unlikely that artists will give you the access (and it would be a large job to keep multiple profiles up to date). That said it is still worthwhile setting up a Reverbnation label profile page and linking in your artists who do have a presence on there.
  • As with iLike, you could set up a record label profile as if you were an artist in order to take advantage of the additional features and music uploading.
  • Integration with other sites is good with specific highlights being the ‘My Band’ tab for Facebook and the excellent widgets which can be placed on almost any website. For examples of widgets in action visit Kelvin K’s Myspace page.
  • Reverbnation collects excellent statistics and allows you to build a mailing list and create newsletters.
  • It allows you to provide multiple links to stores where people can buy your music.
  • Record labels would struggle to use Reverbnation as a central hub with a specific label account type, but for artists it is a great option and offers many benefits not discussed above.
  • Reverbnation is free.
  • Soundcloud can be used by almost any discipline within the music industry including record labels.
  • It is not as comprehensive as either iLike or Reverbnation in terms of the range of features and it much more strongly focused only on music and their player which is does exceptionally well.
  • Soundcloud integrates with other websites and social networking platforms via its music player widget. It won’t automatically link up with other sites, but once you place a Soundcloud player (or multiple players) onto another site you can then easily update all music via your Soundcloud dashboard. Soundcloud can also be set to post an update to your Facebook and Twitter account when you upload new music.
  • The Soundcloud player looks great and is customisable to match the colour scheme on the websites where you place it. You can include a direct ‘buy’ link on all songs which will appear in the player. View Soundcloud players on the Lost My Dog Facebook page and the Lost My Dog website.
  • Soundcloud collects good statistics on plays and downloads of your music as well as details on which other uses are following you.
  • The player allows for excellent interaction with ‘followers’ who can mark songs as their favourites and make comments on the music.
  • An additional feature of Soundcloud is the ‘dropbox’ which allows others to upload their music to you. This can be particularly useful to record labels as a demo submission tool.
  • Soundcloud would not lend itself well to being a central hub for all of a record label’s needs, but for music alone it is perfect.
  • A basic Soundcloud account is free, but this limits you to 5 uploads per month. There are three tiers of subscription account allowing varying levels of uploads and customisable ‘dropboxes’.
In Summary
  • iLike can be useful to record labels but is more suited to artists. For a record label to use it well they need to set up an account as if they were an artist, which isn’t ideal. A key benefit is that it creates a very useful and comprehensive ‘music’ tab on your Facebook profile.
  • Reverbnation is an excellent resource for artists, but less flexible for record labels. It is worthwhile labels setting up an account but keeping it up to date relies mainly on artists. Good widgets, stats and marketing tools.
  • Soundcloud is more strongly focussed on the music but does this extremely well. It is not so suited to being used as a general record label hub site but is my preferred option for a music-specific hub.

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