In 2003-2005 Myspace grew big among musicians that wanted channel to reach possible fans that was easy to set up and use. It almost completely destroyed the need of an offical website. Myspace provided space for music, tour dates etc that the official websites also had but more importantly it added some tools for direct communication and possibilities for users to connect across the platform.

The success of Myspace powered the need for a close relationship between artists and fans. The official website appeared as obsolete and a testament of a time when internet was an arena for one way, top down, communication.

All good, Myspace and other music communities are the ultimate way to enhance an artist on the internet? Not really. The “problem” is that the possibilites of the web is much bigger than what Myspace etc are delivering.

Here’s why and how you should develope your official web site. (And oh, don’t forget to keep your Myspace presence. Always think in terms of complements.

Multiple upload functions
Make it possible for fans to upload and embedd their own pictures, videos, remixes, reviews and so on. In return you get a much more attractive site to visit.

By making your site open you gain the participators confidence. Which strengthens the relationship and your fans (consumers) will get even more willing to spread the word about your great music.

By making fans part of the work force they’ll see themselves as an important part of the artists career and development. They’ll become prosumers and function as bee in the process of pollination.

Ownership of the discussion
Instead of making Rupert Murdoch happy when he see all the traffic your brand is driving to his site and letting him know everything about your fans and their habits you should collect that information yourself. By making your own domain the most attractive place with the most content about yourself will result in you owning the discussion about and around your brand.

An attractive site where fans not just go for music but also discuss and contribute drives more traffic with means attention.

… economy
And as we all know attention on the internet (and elsewhere) means money. Income models may vary but the choices are many and work well together. Regular shop, subscription, ads, etc etc.

What you get with a well built official site is an interdependent relationship with your fans that looks like a small ecosystem. If you’re good you’ll get 1000 true fans that isn’t just great for you right now but will be there for you when you release the next songs, album, tour, musical box, painting or whatever creative idea you come up with.

To me the trend is clear. Eno/Byrne, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Ace Of Base are major artists that has started to understand this and are taking the lead to show some of the possibilites. Further more start-up companies all over the world are building platforms that enable artists to set up their own community and facilitate a strong relationship with fans.

There’s two clear winners here. Artists and fans. That’s great! We as labels and publishers will have to learn that it’s new, better, times now and adjust to a reality where we are in this business because of engaging musicians and because of engaing fans. We, as music labels etc, are playing on their conditions. Beware artist+fan is a powerful number – but if you, Mr Record label boss, play your cards right you’ll have an amazing ride in front of you.