How Top Musicians Are Utilizing Their Facebook Pages

Musical artists are now brands. Declining physical album sales have pushed artists and their teams to think more holistically. Smart musicians are moving away from making a quick buck off of piece-meal Mp3 sales, instead looking to foster institutional allegiance from their fans, facilitating the sales of higher-priced items like concert tickets, apparel, keepsake-laden box sets and even super-premium personal experiences with the artists themselves.

Facebook Pages have the potential to deliver this deep connection with fans because they can provide a seamless on-site experience for Facebook users. They allow people to publicly come together to share their feelings for the things they love. Below, we detail how musicians are using a key part of Pages to promote themselves: the horizontal navigation tabs for third-party applications and other features at the top of each Page.

But first we should note that Pages will continue to grow in value along with Facebook’s own user base and other products. True, the company just launched the Open Graph API and social plugins, designed as ways to take many features you’ll see on the site to everywhere else on the web. Pages are a key part of this plan, though. They’re public, so fans can find them through searches on Facebook or through web search engine results. And because Pages are hosted on Facebook, they also create a seamless experience for users — Pages can publish updates to fans’ news feeds, for example, and get people to click through to the Page instead of having to go to a different site off of Facebook. The value of Pages is analogous to how users enjoy using social games and other apps on Facebook even though they can access many of the same features through developers’ implementations of Facebook Connect (now the Open Graph) on other sites.

Facebook may have launched the Open Graph last week, but it doubled down on the value of Pages when it introduced Community Pages earlier this month — a new type of Page that nobody owns, that doesn’t include some featurs, like publishing to fans’ streams. It followed up on this move by requiring all users to designate their existing interests, education history, and other information from their personal profiles as either Community Pages or as Official Pages. This comes home to musicians in a big way as lots of users who had written in the names of their favorite bands in their profiles suddenly were asked to “like” the official Pages for the bands.

We’re focusing on tabs on Pages, here, because they are a key way that Page owners can provide a customized and in-depth experience for users. We’ll look at full-service applications currently being used by musicians, such as  iLike’s “Music”, as well aswhat discussion board threads get the most posts, tabs with publishing capabilities and other developments in Pages.

Music Streaming

iLike‘s “Music” still dominates the music streaming Facebook app market, despite being bought by MySpace in August 2009, and weathering a drop to 11,854,238 monthly active users (artists and listeners) from 12,400,000 since we profiled the app at the beginning of the March. Allowing artists to display a music player, tour dates, bulletins, links, tag clouds, Twitter updates, comments and more, it has been installed on almost every one of the Top 200 musician Pages according to PageData.

Competitor RootMusic‘s BandPage app, which provides a suite of applets for a variety of musician Page needs, has only 6,046 monthly active users, though all of these are artists. Jason Mraz’s BandPage tab includes a music player powered by SoundCloud alongside his Twitter updates. Involver‘s premium service offers custom music players as well as free Page tabs that display Twitter and RSS feeds. Their “Music” tab for Alicia Keys displays a music player, purchase links and a comment input with an option to publish comments to a user’s feed. However, in a testament to it’s ubiquity, both Jason Mraz and Alicia Keys also have iLike’s app installed. With no competitor offering the same diversity and quality of services for free, iLike is set to maintain its supremacy for the foreseeable future.