Thursday, July 14, 2011

Musicians: Apps are your future

Google+ is rolling out a bazillion invites to people who want to be part of the next "thing." What made Google+ appealing in the first place? NOBODY WAS THERE!

But now EVERYBODY is on G+, and like me, a lot of "Huh?" going around. It's just like Facebook, but with circles! Great, one more thing I have to teach my parents to use...badly.

If Google, the biggest tech company on Earth, can't figure this out....

As a musician, Facebook's fan pages are a great service - providing your fans use Facebook regularly enough to see your updates/invites. And this is really the problem - managing subscriptions to people's lives. Some people are more important than others, and some status updates are more important than others. Facebook doesn't know which is which, so after you cross that 200+ friend threshold, it's unmanageable.

Politicians and idiots are all over Twitter. That thing is downright useless.

MySpace? Bandcamp? Soundcloud? iTunes? YouTube? Amazon? CD Baby? Where should you be? Where is your future??

Not anywhere near those services, I promise you. Apps are your future. Back in January, I wrote:
We used to call them "patrons." Now we call them "subscribers" or "users." Same concept. Someone likes your work, and wants to support it directly. But more importantly, a patron wants to connect with you.
Lucky for us, these days app developers are a bit like weed dealers: even if you think you don't know somebody directly, you've got a friend that "knows a guy!" Ask around - you'll be surprised.
Musicians: THIS IS YOUR FUTURE. Not Facebook, not your website, G+ or any of the other 'services' that make money by making YOU the product. You're ALREADY a product - your own.

What you need more than anything is steady income, and this is where subscriptions come in: you only need a few hundred people at $1/mo to get rolling. And that $1 (or whatever amount) needs to get them EVERYTHING. Don't scale your offerings - you're not that smart. One price gets everyone in the door. All the music, all the pictures, tour dates, and opportunities to meet you directly - these are the trappings of distinction. You'll need them.

And you'll be motivated to produce for those patrons, too. Because if you stop long enough to rest on any perceived laurels, your fans will move on. This is your new reality, musicians.

You need to find app devs and ingratiate yourself. They are the key to your next kingdom.

I write this because I've seen a platform in development specifically for musicians that can't write code. This service will allow you to create your own basic Android/iPhone app (and publish it!) that your fans can use to connect with you.

Android is the #1 selling mobile right now, and they're continuing to fly off shelves in record #'s (during an economic depression, too!) in addition to steady iPhone sales. People buy apps all the time for their phones, and the $1 price point is just right to get people on board with little risk. Mobile phone use is only going to grow, and with cloud services looking to be ubiquitous in a couple years, there's no need to maintain 'fat' computers (laptops, desktops, etc) and their attendant media libraries.

Besides, it's all about the live show anyway: recorded music is your bait.

Next year, there will be a mobile app for the music of Jeremiah Jacobs. Fans will get the app for free, and there is a $1/mo buy-in for the premium stuff, like pre-release demos, all songs for free, lyrics, artwork, chat, concert dates, freebies, etc. I'll be glad to pry myself from Facebook and it's time-sink nature. Ditto for Twitter. I'll have my own 'world' and I don't have to sell my fan's user data to get it.