Any musician trying to make a career in the music biz needs to be at the cutting edge and the forefront of social media trends and platforms. One of the more unique, useful, and popular ones is Tumblr. Ya, quirky name, but isn’t Twitter??? What does Pandora or Spotify mean? But, it is a name you can remember! I thought the same thing when I first heard the name “Twitter”, and I also did when I heard the name “Tumblr” (even thinking, they spelled it wrong!!). What in the heck does that mean and how did they come up with those names? We might never know. But we can always learn what they do and how we can use them to OUR advantage. More specifically, how we can (as recording artists) use them as tools for the growth of our music career.
Tumblr was founded and is currently run by an American web developer and entrepreneur from New York City, David Karp. It is what Tumblr calls a “microblogging” platform and social networking site. It allows users to post multimedia links/posts and other content to a short-form blog. Tumblr users can follow other users’ blogs, as well as make their blogs private ones that other people can follow and read. Much of Tumblr’s features are accessed from a “dashboard” interface. This is where the option to post content and posts of the blogs that each user follows will appear. I sometimes describe it as a more dynamic and “larger” version of some of the core aspects found on Twitter. It was launched on April 27, 2007. Within 2 weeks of its launch, it already had over 75,000 users online. As of late last year, Tumblr has over 77 million blogs on its site. That is some major growth in a pretty short period of time.
Recently Tumblr announced its venture into a unique aspect of the music industry. In an online article posted on Billboard.biz, Tumblr described this new venture as “music discovery.” At the core of the company’s strategy, there will be a select group of what they call “music editors” that will share music, video and pictures with the site’s approximately 95 million users. Tumblr music evangelist Nate Auerbach said, “This is our destination for users to discover music on Tumblr.” (Nate Auerbach joined Tumblr in May 2012 after stints at the artist management company the Collective and MySpace). Social Media gurus and insiders say “Tumblr could have considerable power as a new music discovery destination.” Currently the company shared a statistic that it had 30.8 million U.S. unique visitors just last December. This stat makes it the 38th most visited web site in the country. The goal is for this large amount of traffic to be combined with content picked by dozens of music and social media experts. For more information on the top sites visited daily, go to www.comScore.com Here is a list of the top 10 most visited sites, according to comScore:
1 Google Sites
2 Microsoft Sites
3 Yahoo! Sites
5 AOL, Inc.
6 Amazon Sites
7 Wikimedia Foundation Sites
8 Glam Media
9 CBS Interactive
10 Apple Inc.
There are two aspects that are being used in Tumblr’s music discovery format. The first coming in the sites tag page, where visitors can easily see music tags by simply typing the keyword “music” in Tumblr’s search field. In addition, Tumblr is also incorporating other tags to its frequently used “Explore” page. The Explore page is a destination where users can view popular tags, their levels of feedback and activity, as well as the top editor (user/blogger) of that specific tag. Just like other categories that are seen on Tumblr’s explore page, music will now have tag editors that can highlight the best music, videos, artwork and photos on Tumblr. What makes this so unique and exciting is that because the editors of the tags are members of Tumblr’s community, the content that you will view comes from what they refer to as “trusted experts.” Not from Tumblr itself. This will avoid having any major corporate company or record label paying to have their artists featured as top tags on Tumblr. You will see whom the fans, or users on Tumblr are actually talking about. As of today, Thursday February 21st, Tumblr has about 20 editors. Tumblr promises that more editors will be added soon. They are hoping to have future editors coming from many trusted sectors of the music industry. Particularly those whom they view as taste makers. Editors will come from areas like concert venues, music journalists, bloggers, and even VH1.
Nate Auerbach says that the current and future tag editors were chosen because of their significant knowledge and following in their respective side of the music industry. Some of them are actually current Tumblr bloggers. Nate reassures any doubters and says, “These are all trusted brands.” Considering that Tumblr already has so many other tags, music is a surprisingly late addition. Especially considering that music is one of the top formats and subjects in majority of social media platforms.
Tumblr has picked their music editors with an extreme amount of detail to respect copyright. Music editors on the site need to have an understanding as to what kind of music can and cannot be shared to the music pages. Auerbach says, ”before me there wasn’t anyone who could speak to the intricacies of the way the music industry works, and there wasn’t anyone who could police how the tag editing works.”
The second part of Tumblr’s two-part “music discovery” format is a dedicated music blog that will be featured at music.tumblr.com. This is where Tumblr will post announcements that are related to music and the music business. Some of the recent posts include a flyer to Tumblr’s party at SXSW on March 15th, and the upcoming “Fall Out Boy” tour dates. According to Auerbach, this not a place for the company to share its editorial voice. That voice is being left to the users. I absolutely love that aspect. I don’t want to hear what Tumblr necessarily feels about the music biz. Or what major labels and big management firm’s feel are hot artists and trends in the music industry. I want to hear from fellow fans. I want to hear from fellow musicians. The people that actually make the music industry go around!
Being the innovative and forward thinking company that Tumblr is, the music tag page and it’s sister music blog will also be available on mobile devices, with content being visible to people who are not Tumblr users. But here is the caveat, in order to interact with the posts and users, as well as get the whole Tumblr experience, you will need to actually be a Tumblr user.
As I have discussed throughout my numerous blogs in the past, learning about how to better leverage social media to benefit and grow your music career is essential to any recording artist’s success. For anyone reading my blogs religiously, I always preach for artists to grab control of their music career and take the necessary steps to learn how to build it into, as well as run it as a profitable business. A common factor of not only many struggling artists today, but other companies who assist artists in the music industry, is the fact that people are always playing “catch up.” They are trying to figure out how they can get on the same level of other successful artists? How they can learn to use other social media platforms, digital distribution, and online subscription sites as effectively as the small minority of artists who are currently benefiting from these tools. I definitely think that is important in your success. But I ALSO think the key to your success ultimately depends on the future. I believe your success depends on being able to discover the newest trends in the music business…before the masses do. Actually getting ahead, rather than always playing form behind. Your success depends on being innovative. It depends on being able to be one step ahead of the curve (everyone else), and finding out what the NEXT social media platform or outlet that will be used by artists to engage and communicate with their fans. If you are reading this blog and hearing about Tumblr’s “music discovery” format for the first time, you are extremely lucky. You are one of the few who are possibly getting preview of the future. Kind of like getting to know who wins the big game, prior to placing a bet (just like Biff Tannen had when he got the Sports Almanac of winnings from 1950 – 2000 in ‘Back to The Future II’). You have the opportunity to be one of the early ones to get in on the newest addition to social media platforms. If you can figure out a way to use Tumblr’s new format to your benefit, before anyone else does, this will help you get one step ahead of the game. One step ahead of everyone else who one year from now will just be learning how to use the ‘music discovery’ feature for the first time. Getting ahead of everyone in the social media game is what creates mega stars. Jumping on a new trend that might be the ‘next big thing’ will ensure you have a much better chance than other artists. Right now you might still be playing catch up by figuring out things like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. But imagine this…imagine being one of the few artists that were in the first bunch to utilize those tools when they were first released to the public. The innovative ones who jumped on those platforms right away. As those social media platforms started to explode…so did their music career.