Monday, April 17, 2006

Women of Rock: MySpace Smackdown!

Back in December of last year I wrote a 2-part(Part 1, Part 2) 'Women of Rock' series on BMA. These posts focused on how many labels are struggling to successfully market the 'female rocker', and eventually led to my interview with Nettwerk's Director of Sales and Marketing, Erin Kinghorn.

I thought as a fun follow-up to those posts, that I would look at the MySpace pages for some of these 'female-rockers', but through a marketing eye. Basically I want to see how well the artists accomplish 2 goals:

1 - Make their music available to their fans, and give them the ability to share it.
2 - Make themselves accessible to their fans and interact with them.

Here's the contestants in the Women of Rock: MySpace Smackdown!

1 - Jewel
2 - Avril Lavigne
3 - Alanis Morrisette
4 - Sarah McLachlan
5 - The Donnas
6 - Tori Amos

First up: Jewel.

With her new CD Goodbye Alice in Wonderland set to hit stores next month, Jewel needs to knock the cover off the ball. Instead she wiffs on 3 straight pitches. First, there are NO songs, and NO videos available! There is NO blog. In fact the only thing she has on her page is a buncha ads disguised as 'content' trying to direct the user back to her main website. She has an ad-link to pre-order GAIW, a place to enter your cell phone number and get update on 'Jewel news', and the code for a 'Jewel Fan Feed' that you can add to your MySpace page, or website. Also, NO bio.

It's obvious that Jewel is using her MySpace page as a tool to promote her website. IOW, she has fans on the 8th most popular website on the planet finding her, and she tries to redirect them to a website that doesn't get as much traffic as BMA does. Amazing. Almost as amazing as the fact that she's roughly 2 weeks away from the release of an album that will make or break her career, and she has NONE of her music available! Nothing. The closest she comes is a link to watch the video for GAIW at Yahoo!.

I'll give Jewel a 31, and my bias for her music is likely the main reason why she scored this high. This is a marketing embarrassment.

Avril Lavigne

The first thing I see is a player with FOUR of Avril's songs ready to play! Thank God! Can you add the songs to your MySpace page? Yes you can, all four! Unfortunately, Avril doesn't allow you to rate or comment on the tracks, and she doesn't have the lyrics for them. And you can't download them, which isn't a huge deal, since I doubt many of the artists here will have their songs available for download. Also, no videos available. Still, a good start.

She has a pseudo-blog, with only a few entries, the last being in February, and they apparently aren't written by her. She does have an extensive bio, an ad for a debit-card for Avril fans, and a banner for YouthAids and Aldo, charities helping to fight AIDS/HIV (you can see the Nettwerk influence here). She doesn't score many points for the crappy blog, but she redeems herself somewhat with the banner for YouthAids/ALDO.

Surprisingly, there are no links to order any of her CDs. Very odd. In fact there aren't any links to any of her merchandise. I appreciate her not turning the page into an online catalog, but I would have at least thrown in a link to Werkshop to order Avril's merchandise there.

Overall I'd give Avril's MySpace page a 72. Not great, but not a bad start.

Alanis Morrisette

Alanis is a relative newbie MySpacer, only having a page since the end of last year. Her career has been slipping for years now, let's hope she can take a step forward here with a solid MySpace showing. First, she has FOUR songs available to play, you can add all four, no comments or rating allowed, no lyrics, but HUGE can DOWNLOAD all 4 songs! That's big! videos. Still, the ability to add AND download 4 songs, that's massive!

Unfortunately, that's about all there is on the page worth talking about. No blog, which is almost as big of a minus as the downloads are a plus. A very short bio, no links to any merchandise, and one link to her website.

The good news is that it looks like this site is still a work in progress. If Alanis adds a blog that SHE writes, and expands the bio, that alone would easily get her over 80.

As it is, I'll give her a 65. The downloads are big, but that's about all there is here.

Sarah McLachlan

First, she has a player, but only 3 songs are available. You can't download, rate, or comment on the 3 songs, but you can add them. All 3 are remixes from Bloom, her latest album. No videos are available.

There are 2 entries in her blog, and neither written by her. Ugh. Her 'bio' is actually a very detailed account of the songs on her latest CD, Bloom. Personally I would rather have the extensive bio.

Sarah is clearly using her MySpace page to promote Bloom. To that end, it serves it's purpose. But if you strip away the Bloom-related content, there's really nothing left. Again, no link to any merchandise. Sarah's fan-club, Murmurs, recently became free to join, so she needs to link to that.

Sarah's page definitely needs a bio, and a blog. Adding those would get her score up around 75-80, as it is I give her a 62.

The Donnas

The youngest members of the contest, and the only female band, are up next. And from a quick glance of the page, I can tell you that we have probably found our winner. First, their player has 4 songs. None of them can be downloaded, and no lyrics are available, but all can be rated and commented on, and added. But we're just getting started, the girls have FOUR videos for viewing! Want more? They have THREE video interviews to watch, and bless their hearts, those spunky babes have added four MORE live videos you can DOWNLOAD, and a live version of Take It Off that can be downloaded as well! Amazing!

Now, for the blog. First, they have one ;) Second, they only have 1-2 entries a month, but it does appear that they were written by the band, they have additional links to concert venues, interviews, etc. But here's the part I absolutely love.....they left a post asking their fans which 4 songs they wanted in the player! I love it! These ladies are kicking some serious ass!

Finally, they have a link to their website, an area to sign up for their mailing list, and a space to sign up for wireless alerts.

Just a great page, and it puts the rest of the field to shame. There's no real weaknesses here, more entries in the blog would be nice, but what they have is definitely nothing to sneeze at. I am very impressed, and give The Donnas a 94.

I think the contest is over, but we still have to check on the original 'alternative-chick'...

Tori Amos

Only 2 songs available in her player, which can't be downloaded, but they can be rated, and commented on. No lyrics, but you can add them. She does have a video available from her DVD collection Fade to Red. mix here.

Her 'blog' is really just a series of 'press releases', mostly hyping Fade to Red, and obviously not written by Tori. Pretty weak.

No bio, in fact she takes the same route Sarah did, she uses her bio space to go into detail about Fade To Red. Very detailed, but again, a detailed bio would have been better.

But she DOES have a link to order Fade to Red! Amazing! I would have thought all the artists would have been falling all over themselves to have links to their CDs/DVDs, but only Tori and Jewel did this. Tori also has a form to join her mailing list.

This one is close, but I am going to bump Tori just ahead of Alanis, and give her a 68. The blog is weak, the selection of songs/videos isn't strong, but Tori probably does the best job of merchandising. If she would add 2 more songs and actually write her blog, this would be a solid MySpace page.

So the final standings look like this:

1 - The Donnas - 94
2 - Avril Lavigne - 72
3 - Tori Amos - 68
4 - Alanis Morrisette - 65
5 - Sarah McLachlan - 62
6 - Jewel - 31

There you have it, with the hotties from LA taking home the top score easily. The rest of the gals have adequate pages that could be solid with a few minor tweaks.

And then there's Ms. Kilcher, who simply needs to flush her page and start over. Jewel my email address is Contact me when you are ready to get serious about your marketing.


J.D. said...

Interesting take on the Myspace issue. I have seen the Myspace thing done very well and very poorly. Personally, I think all of them could take a lesson from the Idols, almost all of whom have a myspace. Particularly, Jessica Sierra, Brooke Barrettsmith and Stevie Scott (new interview!! see my blog!).

Here's my formula for a good Myspace Music artist page.

(1.) Obviously, you want the player with four playable songs. You should enable the rating, commenting, lyrics, and add choices. It's good if you can enable the Download option too, but I can take or leave that option. Choose the right pics to go with the right song.

(2.) Pics. You want plenty of pics to show your fans. A good idea is to put both professional headshots AND candids. The candids should be pics that only you could be in possession of. That's one way to tell the difference between a myspace page owned by the actual artist versus some poseur imposter trying to pass themselves off as a famous artist. Also, it makes for good fan interaction to show them a more personal side.

(3.) Write blogs. If you have your street team running the Myspace site, STILL you MUST write blogs, at a rate of at least once a week. It should tell the reader a little bit about what's going on with you. It doesn't have to be epic, but a note from you as the artist goes a LONG way with the fans.

(4.) Write your own blurb. It's so easy to tell when a blurb is written by a street team member, or, again, the many imposters out there.

(5.) DO answer all the questions about movies, music, blah blah blah. It may seem stupid, but the fans eat that stuff up.

(6.) DO maintain your comments section. And if somebody gives you a comment, comment them back. Do you know how stoked a fan would be to just have a "hey thanks, you rock" from someone like JEWEL? Or ALANIS? Carmen Rasmusen (country singer/AI 3 finalist) does this with minimal effort. She has a little script that can be put onto someone's comments that flashes pictures of her and a "thanks for the add" message, which, while it's not personal, is still a nice touch, and still gives the fan the whole "hey, Carmen commented me!" vibe even if it is done by the Street Team and not Carmen herself.

(7.) I know there's tons of messages coming in, but try to respond to one or two of them, for all the reasons listed above for returning comments. Some artists can't possibly answer them all, but throw a bone out every once in a while!

(8.) DO keep a constant update on your shows, schedules, and if you want to take it to the next level, provide Myspace-only events like special remixes or the vaunted Myspace Secret Shows thing.

(9.) Do send out tons of friend requests. Just do it.

Those are some things I've seen done right on Myspace, and some things I've seen done very wrong.

Geez, Mack, I done went and wrote a whole blog post here that I could've put on Musical Ramblings!! Oh well, don't say I never gave ya anything :)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think you should update this page! Jewel has songs from her new album on her myspace! Jewel is way to cool for all of you- ha!