By Andrew Goodrich
In response to Hypebot’s “Music Widgets Come of Age” article and the comments that ensued, I decided to poll some of our readers at Artists House via twitter to find out how many of them actually have purchased music through an online widget. So far, the results are not surprising to me, though the sample size is still relatively small.
As of the writing of this article, 81% said they have never purchased music through an online widget, and 4% weren’t sure what a widget is. The poll (which is still open for voting) can be viewed here: http://twtpoll.com/y0520w.
Comments via twitter and e-mail sparked by the poll confirm my own beliefs on the subject. The consensus seems to be that widgets are good for disseminating music (facilitating music discovery), but are not the right place for financial transactions to take place. As always, technology is simply an accelerator. If the product is stellar, technology can help amplify the success it already would have found. For example, the Byrne/Eno project, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, was going to be successful by nature of the creative minds behind it and the ancillary promotional work. TopSpin’s widget allowed the album to see an amplified level of success, but the sales had very little to do with the widget itself. To be clear, a widget isn’t the answer. You always want to avoid basing your business model on a certain technology. So, no need to delay your album release until you are accepted into TopSpin’s beta.
Additionally, many of the features offered on widgets seem to me to be characteristic of ‘feature-creep’. Feature-creep is the same thing that plagues your TV and DVD remotes. Too many buttons, most of them never used. But somebody thought it’d be a good idea to have a dedicated button for that specific task. And so, button by button, the remote became unusable. Likewise, while one widget may allow fans to view band photos, read blog posts, listen to albums, purchase music, subscribe to a mailing list, and take a survey all in a 250×250 pixel box, do a reality-check and think about whether this is attractive to fans (or just to bands). You don’t see very many people embedding their favorite bands’ multimedia widgets on their own websites, though many bands seem to think this is a fantastic idea.
When navigating the DIY music business, it’s important that we try to stay focused on only the value-adding endeavors that reflect real-world behavior.
Written by Andrew Goodrich for Artists House Music