Fanburst could be the future of music platforms…

If you’re not familiar with Fanburst, it’s the latest in a long line of Soundcloud alternatives that have emerged in the past couple of years.

So what makes it any different to hearthis.at, yungcloud or clyp.it?

For a start it’s well designed, with a clean and uncluttered appearance. It’s also amassing a user base of ‘power users’ that include Joey Bada$$, Illmind, Bonobo and Chillhop Records…oh and it’s tagline is “Unlimited uploads for artists, unlimited streaming for fans.”

So far so good then.

The reason for my scribbling is that the company recently sent an email to users asking what features it would like to see implemented in the future.

The proposition i’m going to make is that Fanburst could not only eclipse Soundcloud in the long term with the right approach, but with a clear vision of its future could become the primary online platform for independent artists. So let’s begin with some ideas…

1. Monetize early

When we talk about Soundcloud’s woes it all comes back to their inability to make a profit, despite numerous attempts to plug the gaps with badly thought out solutions (hello Soundcloud Go & Ads in-between my f**king tracks).

Let’s be honest, the Startup scene is filled to the brim with companies who think they can release a cool product, secure a few funding rounds and flick a middle finger at “selling out” aka turning a profit. For the big players like Spotify this is working ok (so far). For everyone else it’s just a really f**king stupid business model.

For Fanburst, the next step could be to enable track and album sales. They’re already halfway there with the ability to create album collections. Taking the step into sales would create a solid foundation for profitability in the future, as well as providing a great feature for that would create value for artists.

As a musician, i’ve long relied on Soundcloud for streaming and Bandcamp for sales. If someone can along and offered both on the same platform? Game changer. It might even convince me to move my whole catalog over.

2. Give artists the tools they want and need

Musicians want many things, but chief amongst them is the ability to grow their following and reach as many people as possible. And the fewer platforms they have to use to do so, the fewer headaches.

Let’s start with growing an audience.

Social & email unlocks would be a great feature to start with. ToneDen is already exploiting the fact that Soundcloud doesn’t support this feature natively and they’re doing good business off the back of it. If Fanburst implemented a similar function to Soundcloud’s Buy Link, their platform would also be fair game for the likes of ToneDen and The Artist Union. Building their own unlock system however would not only plug the gap, it would also provide them with a huge feature advantage over their competitors.

Onto creating fewer headaches.

As an independent artist there are numerous platforms that you need to manage in order to reach your audience. Not only do you need to get your music ready for the world to hear, you also need to manage digital distribution, email marketing, numerous social channels…the list goes on. Fanburst could do a number of things to reduce the migraine risk for indie musicians:

  1. Distribution. 
    If i’m uploading my track to Fanburst, why can’t I also publish to YouTube? The API exists and a bunch of 3rd party providers can do it for me, so why not my streaming platform?
    And what about Spotify/Apple Music/TIDAL etc? Partnering with a digital distributor to offer this as an optional service (at a cost) would give Fanburst a real USP. I hear DistroKid are a nice bunch of guys…
  2. Marketing & Promotion. 
    Let’s say Fanburst implements email unlocks for tracks. Their platform would collect & host my fans’ emails, but in order to reach them i’d need to export an excel list and re-upload it to a service like Mailchimp. But what if the ability to send email notifications to fans was built in? Again this would have to be at a cost — and have limits on frequency to prevent spam — but it would help Fanburst become a truly integrated music platform. 
    PS. ToneDen are already doing this too…

3. Build your community. And never stop.

This is perhaps the most important point to end on. Music platforms are built on the people that use them. In its early days Soundcloud actually did a great job of making their users feel valued. “Soundclouder of the day” was a simple and effective solution to empowering the community and really making a difference in helping artists increase their reach. Similarly, Bandcamp’s weekly mixes, new & notable release section and daily blogs featuring new releases make a huge difference in solidifying the loyalty of its users.

Fanburst are already starting to do this by showcasing featured tracks and playlists, but they could take this a step further to really build a community around them. Let’s start with just 2 ideas:

  1. Artist of the day
    Nice & simple, featured track and headshot on the front page of Fanburst for 24hrs. The outcome is that the artist feels valued and also benefits from being exposed to everyone who visits the main page that day. Easy win…and I could recommend the first 100 artists for you right now.
  2. Weekly features
    Pick one artist a week to feature on the Fanburst blog. Talk about their new project, discuss their studio set-up, their favourite sushi joint. Just make sure its authentic, engaging and about the artist not the service.

That’s it (for now).

I could make a bunch more recommendations, but I think that might be overkill.

Digital music is constantly evolving. If any platform is to succeed in the long term it needs to constantly develop its offering for the benefit of its users. Let mp3.com, MySpace, Imeem and yes, even Soundcloud, be a lesson to us all…

Good luck Fanburst, i’m rooting for you.

PS. Here’s my latest track on Fanburst. You’re welcome

https://fanburst.com/mecca83/the-cusp-feat-octavio-santos