These social networks might be small, but they could lead to the big break musicians dream about.
Wishing there was a place online to cash in on your mad karaoke skills? Think your band could slay others in head-to-head competition on the web? Or maybe you’re still looking for that killer band to join but aren’t having any luck on Craigslist?
Consider expanding your online networking beyond Facebook and Twitter to include some of the following under-the-radar, but on-the-rise, social networks.
Chinese tech start-up YY.com is a social platform that allows groups to interact in real-time via voice, text and video (think Skype on steroids).
Initially launched in 2005 as a way for gamers to chat with one another while playing online, the site now hosts communications of all kinds, including educational tutorials, conference calls and, yes, karaoke performances.
Singers on YY can host their own concerts, performing live on video while other users watch and chat with each other via text. Viewers reward their favorite performers by buying them virtual goods through the site, and the performers can then cash in those virtual roses, chocolates and designer handbags for real money.
A single channel on YY can support more than 100,000 users, and as many as 8.45 million people have reportedly used the platform at one time, so a single performer has the opportunity to attract a substantial audience and earn considerable funds.
According to a report on Forbes.com, the most popular performers on YY earn more than $20,000 per month. Although YY’s reported 92 million active monthly users represent just a fraction of Facebook’s 1.32 billion monthly users, when compared to other well-known social networking platforms like Twitter (271 million monthly users) or Pinterest (40 million estimated monthly users), it’s clear that the site has potential to become a major player in the global social-networking space.
No word yet on when, or even if, YY will launch in the United States, so for now, you can only join the fun if you live in China. The rest of us will just have to keep our pipes warm at the local karaoke bar.
Anyone more interested in sharing original music vs. regaling listeners with Whitney Houston impressions should check out Ourstage.com.
After signing up for a free OurStage account, bands and artists upload their electronic press kit (a package containing info about their band, press clippings, photos, contact info, etc.) and a song or video.
They then enter the site’s available competitions, some of which take place on a monthly basis and are sorted by genre or media type (rock, pop, country, urban, specialty, electronic, video) and others that are sponsored by major music brands such as Guitar Center, Ernie Ball and Warped Tour.
Fans who sign up for free accounts on OurStage can then “judge” the songs and videos via the site or its iPhone app to determine competition winners.
According to OurStage, two patent-pending algorithms serve up all of the material in a channel in a fair and unbiased manner for fans to judge, ensuring an even playing field for every artist.
The prizes for OurStage’s competitions range from $100 Amazon gift cards to opening for major bands to performance spots on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
In the words of Timothy Daniels, whose band Pullman Standard won a deluxe home studio prize package through Intel’s 2013 Superstars Competition on OurStage, these competitions can give a band “a big push.” Since winning in January, his Hollywood-based rock band has spent a total of six months on the road, touring the country and preparing for the release of its new EP.
With 4.5 million unique monthly visitors, OurStage’s reach isn’t as wide as some of the larger social networks. But given that its focus is strictly on music, and it offers the extra incentive of prizes that can really give artists an edge in the competitive music scene, it’s a must-add social network for any musician.
Founded by David Baird, the former head of AOL’s e-commerce group — after he spent months answering ads and posting on Craigslist trying to find musicians to jam with him — Gigmor’s mission is to connect artists to other performers using a “unique formula for musical compatibility.”
This proprietary matching algorithm works quickly and effectively by taking into account the user’s location, instruments played, favored genres, skill level, musical goals and more when considering potential matches.
The site was launched in May 2013 and has yet to draw the same traffic as YY or OurStage, but its membership doubled between January and July of 2014, and 30 percent of the site’s visitors sign up, making it worth the effort if you’re a musician looking to find your very own John, George and Ringo.
According to Daniels, OurStage and sites like it provide bands and artists with “a great opportunity to showcase the music that they are making and gain more visibility.”
He also said bands that “keep moving forward in this ever-changing market” and use the Internet every way they can are “moving in the right direction.”
So if you want to monetize your talent, expand your fan base or just find other artists to jam with, put down the guitar for a minute and pick up your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Images courtesy of YY.com, OurStage.com and Gigmor.com.