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Musicians, Samplers and Trailers

I talked about the value of trailers to filmmakers. It got me thinking about the music sampler, free MP3s, peer to peer sharing and other ways musicians’ music can be discovered even before their album is out – “musical trailers”, if you will.

For me, the musical trailer that leads to a new band, musician, or song is often a shared file sent to me by a friend or client musician. Random nuggets of discovery that lead to musical happiness, vetted by people I trust. For a growing number of people, musical trailers come from sites like Grooveshark, Pandora,, iLike,, iMeem (now Myspace music), LaLa, Musicovery, FlyFi and others. Lately, by hooking sites like LaLa and to Twitter accounts, Twitter has become my main source of music discovery.

Hooking whatever account the music lover or band uses for music sharing, even multiple sites, to Twitter creates one stream for music discovery for people in your network. It gives you a way to create a musical trailer stream distributed to multiple fans, that they can then pack and take with them via RSS feed or other services, and that they can share with their networks via lists, hashtags or regular tweets.

If you also hook your discovery and sharing services to other social networks like Facebook and MySpace profiles, you reach an entire extra layer of people. Facebook makes this a bit harder lately. They’ve decided, for example, to ditch the iLike stream (which is unfortunate, it was one of my favorite Facebook apps). But people are finding ways around site restrictions to share the music they love with each other.

Think how you as a musician can up the ante by not only sharing your music and your favorite music to listen to by others using streaming services, but by purposely creating an old school music sampler to act as a coherent musical trailer for your upcoming album. Then release the sample into the wild for free download and make it easy to share. One of my favorite things I see happening on Twitter, specifically, are bands that will randomly send me a link to a free song set (usually two or three songs) via Direct Message a few months before the album comes out – I love that! It’s like unwrapping a present in my DM box.

I’m continually watching for new ways to discover new music to buy, and so many others do the same. Make it easy for us to hear you by changing how you think about your music and the music of others. Emulate the movies a bit, and tease us with trailers – get us excited for your next release. What ways are you using to get fans excited for your new music?

MOG or Last.FM

There are a vast array of music social networks out there to choose from. The three heavy hitters in the social music site scene right now seem to be iLike, Last.FM and MOG. I didn’t include iLike in this comparison, because it lacks some of the features that MOG and Last.FM offer and seems to be most useful on existing social networking sites like Facebook.

Last.FM got my attention first. I installed the small widget that “talks” to the Last.FM site (called scrobbling by Last.FM). At first, all went well, and it always updated my music based on what songs I was playing and downloading. It had recommendations for me whenever I visited the web site, and I could customize my profile and seek out other people with the same music tastes. I was loving it.

That’s when it started having issues. I first noticed the issues on the MySpace widget I had installed – 9 times out of 10 the widget wasn’t working. So I checked the sidebar widget I had on one of my logs. Same thing. I made sure the program on my computer was working (it was), and decided to monitor it for a few days. Over the course of several days, the Last.FM widget was down about 80% of the time. Since displaying what I was listening to was the main reason I’d installed Last.FM, and the feature I was most interested in using, I decided to try a new program.

I went to MOG and grabbed their version of Last.FM’s “scrobbler” program. Both were equally simple to install – just double click the icon on the desktop and it places the little widget right into your System Preferences dashboard (I have a MacBook). As it installs it asks you to allow it access to your iTunes, and you are done. Both programs installed the same way.

Right away, I liked MOG better than Last.FM. Last.FM caused some lag time on my system (perhaps it is a larger program – I don’t know the reason) where MOG had no impact on my system at all. It runs quietly in the background, interfering with nothing. I had spent some time on Last.FM’s web site, but never really got into the social aspects of it. Finding friends on Last.FM simply wasn’t as intuitive to me, although overall their design is more attractive than MOG.

On MOG’s site, however; I find that I play all the time. I love the way they have set up the user pages to place everything from blog ability to song uploads and sharing right at your fingertips. I find myself playing around there quite a bit more than is wise considering all the work I have to do on a daily basis. In fact, the blog feature of MOG is one of the things I like best about it. Sure, I already have several blogs of my own, but none are dedicated to music. With MOG I can write about and share what I’m listening to. It even allows you to embed the shared music on your other blogs, and link to pages where users can buy the albums that go with the tracks – genius!

As far as the widgets on my Myspace , FaceBook and blog sidebars , they have been up and running 9 times out of ten. The few times they have been down, MOG has placed an automatically generated error message that states the server is being maintained, so your readers don’t see blank space or get the eternally spinning wheel or hourglass. One drawback of MOG is load time on the widgets. MOG does not cause my computer to drag, but it does occasionally cause the sidebar widget to drag. I can only assume that happens in times of server overload. It would be nice if MOG offered a way to have the widget default to the server maintenance message if their widget takes longer than a minute to load.

Overall, I liked the features and reliability better with MOG than with Last.FM. If you don’t need the blog, or like the design better at Last.FM, you may make a different choice. Not only that, new social music sites arrive often in Web 2.0 land, so you could find a program you like better than either of them. That’s the beauty of Web 2.0 for creatives – options.

My original version found at Profy site