Tuesday, January 26

Social NetWerking for music makers.


Currently enjoying its status as a media giant, Twitter recently topped the annual list of the most popular words and phrases within the English language, as compiled by language trend tracker Global Language Monitor, and rated #2 (behind “Michael Jackson”) in Microsoft search engine Bing’s list of the year’s most-searched topics. Applications for songwriters and composers are predictably multitudinous, which can make navigating it a bit tricky.

As with Facebook, users of San Francisco-based Twitter (http://twitter.com/; free membership) have a personal site where they can receive and send information. On Twitter, information is sent in short, 140-character blog posts called “tweets” to the author's subscribers who are known as “followers.” Such information can be sent in a number of ways, including email, text messages, and instant messages.

There are several music-sharing applications within the Twitter-verse, wherein the user can upload a song or find it through a music search engine and then share it with his followers. A user can, of course, include recordings of his own songs, but beyond the user’s truly close friends, it’s unlikely that the music will reach the ears of a music business exec. (And blindly inundating an exec with MP3s nets the same result as mailing them unrequested demos: that is, zero.)

Instead, the most practical approach for budding composers on Twitter is to seek out like-minded users via its search engine, and become followers. Typing in “songwriting tips” or “collaborate music” can result in dozens of hits; thanks to the 140-character limit, perusing those results can be quick and (relatively) painless.

The advantages of being on Twitter are not limited to those struggling to get into the business. Hip-hop artist Jim Jones reported in an interview that once he tweeted about the availability of his then-new single, “Dancing On Me,” on iTunes over the summer, “It started at the 100’s and slowly but surely in a few days it started climbing in the 50’s and 40’s, you know? So appreciate everybody for going and buying that record off the help of the tweet.”


Beverly Hills-based MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/; free membership) was the first social network to gain widespread attention, being named the most visited Internet domain for U.S.-based users by web monitoring company Experian Hitwise in July 2006. Since then, however, it’s been mostly downhill, as Facebook and Twitter have taken over most of the buzz; a November report by web metrics company Compete showed that MySpace had lost a fifth of its U.S. traffic since June, with over five million users leaving just in August alone.

The game may not be over, however. In April, Owen Van Natta, former CEO at online music venture Playlist and Chief Revenue Officer at Facebook, was named MySpace CEO, and is actively exploring a number of options for a redesign (a recurring complaint amongst users) and, possibly, some kind of joint venture with Facebook itself.

MySpace built its reputation in part by being so music and musician friendly, and there are signs that the company may be heading back in that direction. The company relaunched its MySpace Music page (http://music.myspace.com/) in the fall of 2008, which includes musician profiles that allow artists and songwriters to upload their music, provided they control the rights to do so. Unsigned acts can also use the service to post and sell their music.

That still leaves the issue of getting people to want to purchase your music, of course. As with Facebook and Twitter, MySpace is home to any number of specialized groups, including those designed and maintained with the up-and-coming songwriter in mind. A recent search for “songwrite collaborate” returned 28,600 results, and such established groups as American Songwriter Magazine, New Jersey Songwriters in the Round, the World Independent Music Association, and the Vienna Songwriting Association all maintain MySpace accounts.

Next: YouTube and LinkedIn

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