Marketing

Music Widgets Come Of Age

Widgets to share and sell music began appearing as early as 2008. But with the increased focus on  direct to fan channels, a widget's ability to spread virally and be updated instantly has led to greater adoption from music marketers. In addition to standalone widget suppliers, both Topspin and ReverbNation, for example, have made widgets a cornerstone of their artist empowerment efforts. 


Tunecore's new widget

This week Tunecore added widgets to its artist services portfolio.  Each white label Tunecore widget is custom made by the artist at TuneCore.com and features cover art, song titles, Tweets, bio, links to the official band page and links to buy. Fans can sign up by providing their email address and zip code, as well as, spread the widget themselves. Future versions will include band photos, tour dates, videos and lyrics.

A major music sales widget player in Europe, theBizmo, is now also bringing its widgets to the US.

In addition to MP3s, theBizmo widget can help sell ringtones, screensavers, videos, merchandise-on-demand, concert tickets, E-books/PDFs of sheet music, lyrics, and more.  A unique feature of theBizmo widget is simultaneous dual downloads to both computer and mobile.

Developed by the same team that built the core engine for the Groove Mobile music delivery service, theBizmo is free of all ads but takes a percentage of sales as high as 30%.

theBizmo promotional trailer

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29 Comments

  1. Does the coming of age of widgets mean that they are actually delivering sales or engagement results? Do you know if anyone has released any conversion data, i.e. completed transactions or number of streams compared to number of widgets distributed?

  2. Nobody buys via a widget. I wish they would, but seems nobody trusts widgets nor cares.
    A true test would be if iTunes REALLY pushed their own widget.

  3. Is there any particular advantage to using these services for widgets over something like Sproutbuilder?
    Also, as Lemmy said, I’ve never talked to anybody who has purchased from a widget before – is this another hyped solution looking for a problem to solve?

  4. Most 3rd party sites take a big cut and don’t give you control (what if they go under?) As always, I suggest you build your own following and use your own website and shopping cart for digital delivery like 1shoppingcart, etc.

  5. All fair points, but Sproutbuilder is a (great) widget creator and charges $19 and up per month.
    Do widgets work? I can tell you that Topspin has numbers from the Byrne/Eno project that they do. Personally I think they’re mostly another tool to draw people into your site and/or to collect info.

  6. Part of the problem with widgets is that; one, most usually take the user away from the page to another site, and sometimes even another site/page after that. It can seem very deceiving. Two, most surfers have to fill-in all their info each time they purchase. No one likes doing that. And finally, it seems a lot of artists believe adding a widget to their site is enough, or their magic bean.
    In my opinion, most widgets are built for the artist and not for consumer. Of course it’s important to cater to the artists, but it’s even more important that they cater to music fans, making the experience as quick & painless as possible. Otherwise it becomes a chore.

  7. I’ll use a widget to take me to someone’s Twitter page, but that’s about it for me.
    I think the hope with widgets is that they will encourage viral sharing among fans, but does anyone promote a band like that anymore? Bands used to encourage fans to put up banners on their MySpace pages. but I don’t think many did.
    I think most fans like enough different bands/artists that they aren’t going to start putting up widgets on their own pages/sites.

  8. Actually, I should’ve been more clear. I’m speaking of distribution widgets; getting the music from the artist to the fan quickly & easily.
    I’m not sure how many people actually virally share an indie bands music these days, but it can’t hurt to give them that option.

  9. I’m very interested in our widget too, how it will grow. We’re taking all kinds of feedback from people, getting to know what folks want and need. Wherever we can, we’ll take our cue from the users.
    Thanks for the mention!
    –Peter
    peter@tunecore.com

  10. Would you believe, I’ve been engaged in music creation and selling for quite awhile, and “widgets” is a term and concept just now entering my consciousness. Decades ago I commented to a friend that soon enough it would be possible for a composer to sit at home creating music and then sell it directly from his computer to anyone anywhere else in the world.
    Evidently it’s been here for quite some time. I sure would like to do that. Now what!

  11. You all should try audiolife.com. Great setup outside of some copy and paste issues from one artist store to another.

  12. I can’t publicize all the details but I will give you a couple example of two bands at opposite ends of the spectrum. UK based band, The Mostar Diving Club, who had little to moderate traffic on their MySpace profile has already sold thousands of dollars of digital music via Bandbox.
    On the other end, Taylor Swift, who was the best selling artist of 2008 has sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in CDs, digital downloads and fan packs via Bandbox’s widget.
    This new way of distributing music is still in its infancy but it is in fact working. Change takes time but we know by the results we’re seeing that change is definitely taking place.
    Examples of Bandbox in use:
    Taylor Swift – http://www.bigmachinerecords.com/taylorswift/index.cfm?id=36
    The Mostar Diving Club – http://www.myspace.com/themostardivingclub

  13. Brenda-
    I’d be happy to share some of the data that we’ve collected over the past couple years. Bandbox represents artist such as Taylor Swift, Jewel, Keith Urban, Paula Abdul, Jars of Clay and thousands of other independent acts who are using the Bandbox widget to sell music direct to their fans.
    Brian Peterson
    Co-Founder & CEO of Bandbox
    brian.peterson@bandbox.com

  14. You’re right, most 3rd party sites do. Bandbox, however, embraces a different philosophy. We provide a risk free and cost free solution that passes 100% of digital sales profits back to the artists. Seriously. And Bandbox is a do it yourself platform, meaning you keep control, set pricing, sell what you want whenever you want, no waiting, etc.
    We make our money on physical good sales, premium service and advertising.
    http://www.bandbox.com

  15. Erik-
    Although I’m not going to say Bandbox is perfect yet, we’ve made great efforts to fix some of the problems you addressed.
    1. Bandbox is one of the only widgets that I’ve seen that keep a user at the artist page, from the start to the finish of a music purchase/download, the user stays in our widget. No linking out to PayPal or back to our site.
    2. Bandbox securely stores each users information so that you never have to re-enter all the sign up info again.
    3. Agree with you, adding a widget is not enough. Artist still have to engage with their fans and cater to their needs. There are actually 4 key variable to a successful direct-to-fan sales campaign.
    1) limited time or limited quantity
    2) extreme value – either create a multiple piece exclusive product configuration and sell it for more $ or discount your CD/digital music for a limited time (e.g. $5 CD for 24 hours)
    3) Instant gratification – give fans something immediately (e.g. download now while CD is in the mail)
    4) Artist involvement, if artist care what they’re selling so will the fans. Provide context (e.g. I wrote this song in Mexico after a breakup…)
    If artist are giving fans something of high value and the buying process is easy and convenient, this new type of distribution will work and both parties will be happy. We’re already seeing a lot of early success with our clients who are using Bandbox.

  16. Although ‘casual fans’ may not purchase directly from artist via their widgets, the core fans are definitely buying.
    I often liken this new way of buying music to what happened recently regarding buying cars on eBay. 5 years ago, not many people bought cars on eBay, only the daring and adventurous. Today, half the people I know are purchasing direct off of eBay or Craigslist.
    Give it time. This is just the beginning.

  17. It’s in interesting time Francis. One of my favorite things about being a part of Bandbox is hearing how artists are using our services.
    You can literally write a song in the morning, record a rough in the afternoon, set up a Free account with Bandbox and start selling your music on your Website, Facebook profile, MySpace profile, etc. that same afternoon.
    Next step is at http://www.bandbox.com

  18. what turns me off about widgets – when the widget is branded with the company who made it (this is true for bizmo, but not the case for Topspin)… it makes it feel impersonal and frankly, makes the artist’s site look unprofessional, when some random company, who fans have never heard of, is seen loading on the site.

  19. Brian, thanks for sharing information on Taylor Swift and the Mostar Diving Club. The potential exponential power of a widget as a distribution tool is in the network effect. While one would expect some degree of sales where these artists have traffic, I’m curious what percentage of sales came from embedding the Bandbox widget in places other than the official site or social network page.
    Care to share those percentages?

  20. Lemmy I have to say that you are wrong in that assumption. At thebizmo people sell singles albums t shirts and tickets every day. some sell sheet music and most of the artists sell ring tones in some form.
    What is true is that a not all artists have the potential to sell singles. Artists using theBizmo who normally might not be single or even album artists, frequently sell tickets or merch instead. Its not that they would otherwise sell out so people rush to get tickets, but selling tickets upfront for a small band is a bit like the invite function on myspace or Facebook, but with a financial commitment from the fan in the form of the ticket price. This works really well. The highest number of tickets sold by an unsigned band for a single event is roughly 100 10 US Dollar tickets. Mostly pre-sales are around 40 to 50. Any band knows that being confident you will have an audience is a great boost before the gig. That is why the ticket pre-sales is such a great thing.
    Having said that, in the new reality of the music biz, it falls upon the artist or his management to do the actual hard work of sales and marketing. Not everyone understands the work involved in actually getting someone to pay money for a product. I recommend all artists to read blogs and articles on the subject and either find a “Superfan” who is willing to put in the hours, or take it upon themselves to do the mouse clicking and copy writing needed.
    Cheers
    David G
    theBizmo

  21. theBizmo is also built to give the consumer an end to end experience on the page it is embedded.
    Anyone building a system that does not fulfill this most basic issue (of not stealing traffic) is doomed to fail.
    David
    theBizmo

  22. Chris
    theBizmo is a white label offering. and we do not wish to be perceived as anything else.
    you have a valid point. There is a logo on our default skin. The user can easily design his or her own skin, but maybe it makes sense to get rid of the logo on the default one.
    thanks for the advice.
    David
    theBizmo

  23. Is anyone publishing conversion rates? There’s so much out there right now in terms of music marketing tools, but I’d love to know what percentage of fans exposed to online music actually make a purchase.
    I used to do merch for an artist. Our worst case scenario at a show was a 10% CD sell through. In other words, for every 100 people at a show, we would sell at least 10 CDs. Sometimes we would sell as many as 40 CDs per 100 people. We didn’t necessarily sell one CD per person; some fans bought multiple CDs. But the numbers were so consistent that we’d know how many CDs we could sell based on the size of the crowd. Never less than 10%.
    That mean that if we wanted to sell 3000 CDs a year, she could achieve that goal by playing to 30,000 people or less.
    Bands/artists doing their marketing online should be able to gauge how many fans they need to reach on their websites, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, etc., to make a sale.
    I’d like to see some benchmarks, similar to what you see with direct mail campaigns (where you hear about response rates in the 1-2% range).

  24. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
    Sara
    http://pianotutorial.net

  25. Hi All,
    We’ve a new video for you to watch, introducing our SuperDistribution service.
    Obviously we’re biased, but we think it’s pretty damn cool… the video AND the service.
    Take a look at: http://www.thebizmo.com/wp/trailers
    Keep your eyes peeled for a ‘one day only’ special offer during the latter half of next week, too.
    It will be blogged on our MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/thebizmo
    Any questions… my inbox is always open!
    Del Nergaard
    Head of Business Development UK
    del-at-thebizmo.com
    http://www.thebizmo.com

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