If you like Class Actress, you probably dig Dragonette. If you like Joe Goddard, you’ll probably like Tanlines. And if you like Justin Bieber, please stop reading this article. So, Headliner.fm, a new web service is betting that it can helps bands monetize through social media by connecting similar musicians and allowing them to publish promotional messages from each other’s Facebook pages to gain new followers.
Headliner.fm is betting fans will like it to, because the service acts like a recommendation engine for musicians they already follow. It’s like Facebook marketing meets Pandora, sort of. Over 75,000 artists, including Weezer, Maroon 5, and Gym Class Heroes, have used Headliner to promote their current projects, and it now reaches over 241 million fans worldwide.
“The people who win on Headliner.fm are the people that send the best quality recommendations to their fans,” said Mike More, Headliner.fm’s founder and CEO. “And if you recommend good things to your fans, you will build affinity with your fan base and they will be responsive to your messages.
We caught up with Mike More, Headliner.fm’s founder and CEO to discuss the innovative platform and how it affects the technology, social media and music worlds.
CBM: Tell me a little bit about yourself- What you were doing before Headliner, and how the idea for Headliner came to you.
Mike More: I’m a serial entrepreneur with a background in music and digital media. Before Headliner.fm, I was a songwriter, record producer, and owner of a music publishing company as well as a large online video content network called Nabbr.com. At Nabbr, we worked with artists like Beyonce and the Jonas Brothers, helping them syndicate their content across the web so they can reach fans for their new releases. Nabbr was very effective for labels and artists but expensive, as we had to pay publishers to host video content.
I saw that Universal Music, who we worked with all the time, had over 150 million music fans that followed their artists and thought, “Wouldn’t it be better if artists could recommend one another’s music to their fans?”. First, people hate ads; second, an artist sharing what they like is kind of awesome; and third, it benefits the artist, the music fan and the social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. At the time, artists were starting to recommend one another on Facebook and Twitter but it was not scalable or accessible. A few artists who were touring together or who had made a new track would do it, so I started Headliner to enable all artists to recommend one another to their fans and effectively market themselves where both them and their fans benefit.
CBM: How does Headliner work in layman’s terms?
MM: Headliner is an in-stream social recommendation platform. We enable artists to recommend one another to their fans in the news feed on Facebook and in the stream on Twitter. Artists on Headliner see recommendation requests from other similar artists that consist of a 140 character message and a Soundcloud link. They’re asked to re-tweet or share in their news feed to their fans. If that artsist feels that their fans will like the other artist’s music, they then approve the artist’s request and pass along the message to their fans. When a band hooks up another band they earn Band Bucks, which they can use to ask send out requests to other bands.
CBM: Why do bands need Headliner?
MM: There are no good ways to market your band on Facebook and Twitter with scale. Ads suck. They are costly and fans hate them. Viral social media promotions (where sharing with friends is incentivized) is good but it cannot help bands reach enough new fans to move the needle.
CBM: How does Headliner benefit consumers?
MM: Fans get to check out new music that artists who they follow recommend to them. If artists do a good job and are really picky, music fans win big-time. It’s like getting a restaurant recommendation by Mario Batali.
CBM: How does the matching technology work? Is it similar to Pandora’s Genome Project or are you using an app like Clio?
MM: Our technology matches other artists up by the style of music they play, location and their similarity of their fans on Facebook and Twitter. Once an artist starts to use Headliner, they learn very quickly which artist’s fans respond best to their music.
CBM: How does Headliner make money? Are you funded?
MM: All artists can reach new fans on Facebook and Twitter for free. We make money through pro subscriptions and selling Band Bucks. Artists who want premium features such as better targeting, enhanced campaign reporting and preferred placement in the recommendation cue can subscribe to a pro account. Each pro account also comes with a monthly allotment of Band Bucks (each Band Bunk reaches one new fan). Artists can also purchase extra Band Bucks without a subscription. We are funded by a group of super angel investors who are successful media and financial executives.
CBM: What are the music related apps on your iPhone?
CBM: What are your favorite bands?
MM: I like all music so this is a hard one. Currently I like Mumford and Sons, Lady Gaga (though I hate to say it), and Kanye West. My favorite artist of all time is Stevie Wonder. Stevie is the greatest living musician I know of – a true genius – though Prince isn’t bad either. Stevie is not on Headliner but if he joins I will take good care of him. Spreading the joy of music is something we are committed to.
For more on this topic, read:
Interview with FanBridge: Social media smarts for musicians.