I hear artists complain a lot about needing to use too many different online services. One for email, one for websites, etc… They wish all these features could be rolled up into one dashboard, but the reality is using different services is a very good thing. In fact, artists should seek out services with focused features, because companies that focus on one core thing produce the highest level of service and quality.
A common struggle that exists for entrepreneurs in the tech world is the impact on adding more features vs. improving current ones. Once you build an application with successful core features, there is the overwhelming feeling you need to add stuff that makes it do more – especially when competition starts adding new functionality. But the best services don’t. The best companies make their core even stronger.
So, although inconvenient, my advice to artists is to figure out what functionality they will need and work with companies who specialize in those services. It’s a natural tendency to use the service that does the most, but the companies who have the largest quantity of separate features have sacrificed quality to get there. As they spread their financial and intellectual resources across too many initiatives, no one piece of functionality gets enough attention, and soon it’s just one big dashboard of a bunch of crappy features.
Just a few examples of companies who focus:
- CD Baby is focused on being the best independent music marketplace. Almost every rising band sends their CD to be sold on CD Baby. CD Baby charges higher fees than a lot of similar services, but they have obsessed over helping indie artists sell music for over 10 years, and they are amazing at it.
- TuneCore has become the defacto DIY digital distribution engine for independent musicians. It’s simple to use and focused. Even though CD Baby, who wins at physical, offers their own digital distribution, all the TuneCore staff does is work on getting music into more stores in more countries. Their core product is extremely powerful. They too have tried side projects like tour widgets, but that never took off because it wasn’t the focus.
- Bandzoogle is an awesome artist website hosting service. They focus on this feature, and they do it better than anyone else. CD Baby has a website division with HostBaby, but their real business is CD Baby. Bandzoogle’s web product is better than HostBaby’s just because it’s the full focus of that company.
- FanBridge is focused on email for artists. You won’t find an indie artist email product anywhere else as strong as theirs, because they focus on it. Bandzoogle, who I just said is awesome at websites, also does email. My guess is that FanBridge kicks Bandzoogle’s ass with email the way Bandzoogle kicks HostBaby’s ass with websites, because FanBridge spends 24/7 thinking about email. They obsess over it.
- MobileRoadie and MobBase obsess over building apps for bands. It’s their focus. And they rock at it. Both companies have different business models, different approaches, and different customers, but both built amazing products for these customers. iLike released an app builder product last year as well, and it was wasn’t nearly as impressive. The design, customization, and functionality were all pale in comparison to what MobileRoadie and Mobbase built. For those companies, it was their obsession, while for iLike, it was a side-project.
- Bandcamp is another great example. Artists LOVE this service, but Bandcamp doesn’t do that many things. They just built a media player with download, sharing, and sales capabilities. A lot of other services offer this too, but Bandcamp has obsessed over it for several years, and their product is amazing. It’s easy to use and highly effective. Other services that offer this feature haven’t executed it nearly as well.
So artists and managers, I know it’s not as convenient as you may prefer, but you will be much better off using 5 different services specializing in 5 different things rather than trying to find one service that tries to be everything for everyone.
When a company obsesses about solving one problem, users – in this case, artists – win.
Editor’s note: if you’d rather go for the all-out comprehensive approach, this video lists possibly all the online music tools out there… in four minutes! Enjoy…