The most popular music app on Facebook today isn’t iLike or another app that lets users share song snippets or playlists.
It’s BandPage by RootMusic, which lets bands create custom Facebook pages.
According to Facebook’s rankings (see below for screenshot), BandPage has almost 30 million active monthly users — that’s more than twice as many as the number-two music app, another Facebook-for-musicians app called Band Profile.
At an event in San Francisco last night, CEO J Sider explained that the service caters not only to popular artists like Rihanna who want to reach the growing Facebook hordes, but the also the long-tail musicians who have only a few fans.
Sider explained that there’s a rule for beginning bands: until you can get 250 people out to every show, you don’t have a chance of making money. A lot of beginners make the mistake of trying to sell music online (or worse, as CDs) before they have this following. BandPage lets them use their recordings the way they should be used — as promotion for live shows and merchandise.
One big reason for BandPage’s success is the implosion of MySpace, which started out as a way for amateur musicians to promote their bands to fans before morphing into a general-purpose social network. As MySpace lost users in droves — the latest ComScore stats have it behind LinkedIn now — bands were finding that their pages didn’t attract the kind of attention they used to. So they had to start moving to Facebook.
There are other ways for artists to set up on Facebook — the easiest is to set up a Facebook group — but they’re not tailored for musicians. BandPage has spots to post show listings and music samples, and the paid version (which costs $2 a month) adds more customisations, videos, and fan engagement features like “sign up for our mailing list and receive a free download.”
An interesting contrast: Sider was at the event with Rdio CEO Drew Larner, who is trying to build a business on getting consumers to pay a subscription for recorded music.
Sales of recorded music are on a 10-year decline that’s getting steeper. Live music revenues are actually up in the first half of 2011, according to Pollstar — and that doesn’t include the thousands of small tours that Pollstar doesn’t count.
So it sure looks like RootMusic is in a much better space than Rdio. And Spotify, for that matter.