Today App.net is introducing a free marketing tool ideal for the mobile age called App.net Broadcasts. Now musicians have a user-friendly way to create mobile push notifications and reach fans via their mobile phone's homescreen. This is a potentially powerful tool for avoiding noisier channels and getting the most important news to your real fans. I talked to App.net founder and CEO Dalton Caldwell, who was also the founder/CEO of Imeem, about a bit of the App.net story but mostly we focused on this new channel that's available to all and will be particularly useful to musicians and music marketers. In addition, I include a personal take on the early history of App.net as I experienced it.
A Brief History of App.net From a Non-Developer's Perspective
App.net launched last year after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over $500,000. Its aim was to create a tool for developers, in part, because folks were really unhappy with Twitter's unreliability in terms of developer relations.
However the message got a bit mangled as it passed through tech blogs to the general public. I'm one of those who bought into that coverage, thought they were simply building a Twitter alternative and got a paid account in the early days before there were free options.
My thinking, based on erroneous perceptions, was that I'd get in on a network that was likely to be hot among Silicon Valley types and would give me a chance to connect with individuals who are otherwise inaccessible to me since I have little standing in the established tech community. Though my work at Hypebot is gradually changing that, I met most of the people I know that are big in the tech scene over 5 years ago when bloggers communicated across industry boundaries. Most of those channels are now useless for such communication, TechMeme generally ignores our tech coverage and I was just hoping to connect with a few more people of the caliber of Anil Dash and Marshall Kirkpatrick.
But App.net was created for developers and, to fit in, you needed to limit your topics of conversation and speak in a certain way. Unfortunately, I was reminded of the early days at TechCrunch when the comment sections were filled with racist, homophobic and sexist garbage. Some of the first big stars on App.net took that same path and until you could block people in the main feed, you couldn't check in on what was happening without being subjected to subhuman bullshit by individuals hiding their identity via masks and the like.
I did try to reach out to a couple of developers in the early days who were creating music-related apps but they blew me off. Those factors are why I never wrote about App.net though Hypebot did run one piece by Eliot Van Buskirk on Last.fm's integration plans.
App.net Today: Reaching Out To Regular People Including Musicians
But those days are far behind us. Though App.net is still developer-centric, you can filter people out and the environment seems much more positive overall.
I spoke recently with founder Dalton Caldwell who probably wouldn't completely agree with my highly personal version of App.net's history though we did discuss the mangled messaging. Rather we connected to talk about a new feature that could be quite useful for musicians who want to stay connected with their fans.
App.net Broadcasts: Easy Mobile Push Notifications
Dalton Caldwell shared the news that App.net was not only introducing mobile push notifications but really wants musicians to come on board for what he considers the only free and easy to use push notification service that's accessible to everyday people.
We're talking here about the notifications that show up on the homescreen of one's mobile device as you see at right. It preempts any other form of announcement because you don't have to log into an app or mobile web account. And, as Caldwell points out, it undermines spam marketing by requiring recipients to subscribe to each source of notifications.
Unfortunately some appmakers have already begun to undermine mobile push notifications "taking the great promise of push and watering it down as application developers ruthlessly ask users for the permission to send alerts, and then often abuse that permission."
Nevertheless, push notifications represent a powerful way to reach one's subscribers and, in the case of musicians, that's most likely to be one's fans.
App.net Broadcasts will make it easy to send push notifications as well as subscribe to them. Here are some additional details:
● Broadcasts are sent and received via App.net’s iOS and Android mobile app (also called App.net).
● The app, the feature, and an App.net account are all free.
● The mobile app lets users subscribe to Broadcast Channels they wish to receive push notifications from.
● The mobile app also lets users publish Broadcasts.
● The mobile app allows publishers to promote their channel and publish their Broadcasts across their existing social networks.
● Advanced tools, like publishing from RSS, are available via a web app.
Mobile Push Notification Best Practices
App.net also points out that:
"A good broadcast channel will send at most two messages per day, and usually far less."
So please don't bring that Twitter noise to this channel or you could kill it for yourself and possibly others. Besides, it's not like carpet bombing people that just wanted you to follow them is a very effective form of marketing.
Mobile push notifications will work best if you save them for special announcements though that could include a new blog post, tour information, release dates and other important news.
Such a channel is especially effective for superfans who will want to know about these things. And instead of your news getting lost in noisier channels, as we've all experienced, it will be front and center in your fan's life.
To be honest, I wasn't clear on how mobile push notifications worked especially given that the terminology sometimes appears in other contexts. Caldwell was nice enough to school me a bit on the basics and I now understand how powerful push notifications can be.
Don't Miss Out
In fact, Caldwell pointed out that he hoped people didn't get caught up in the buzzwords. A related concern was the fact that being able to create push notifications has always been either complicated, expensive or both and that App.net Broadcasts might be missed as an option for those who assume that's still the case.
He also pointed out that this is a tool designed for all interested users. Like a variety of communication tools and social networks, it doesn't have to be designed specifically for musicians to be of incredible use.
Look for the Broadcasts tab, once there, tap on the plus sign and you'll reach "My Broadcast Channels" where you can start the channel creation process.
If you start using App.net Broadcasts to market your music and have a successful story to tell, please be in touch.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.