Over the last few years, the music industry has endured some serious growing pains. And while the industry still wears its new digital outfit like an ill-fitting coat made of cassettes, I, for one, love hearing about young startups that are trying to make the music industry a better (and more modern) place to hang out and do business. While digital media have given bands access to a wider audience and cheap distribution channels, it's still as difficult as ever for artists to make a buck and blast their music and brand messages out broadly - yet efficiently and effectively.
The early adopter community has gone bonkers over Turntable.fm as a music discovery platform, though it's true that even Turntable fans are skeptical about its longterm viability. And it's certainly nice to finally have Spotify in the U.S., as well as cool services like exFm, SoundTracking, Rexly, and eCommerce youngun VibeDeck bringing some funk to the music space.
Last month, Brenden Mulligan, the founder of ArtistData (a syndication tool for musicians to post information across the web), launched a new musical venture called Onesheet with a simple mission: Create a simple way for bands to build a real presence on the Web without having to religiously maintain that presence.
Bands don't have a lot of options when it comes to maintaining a simple but unified web identity; sure, there are some great sites for direct-to-fan sales, digital band management, career coaching (and BandCamp, for one, offers some nifty band-webpage-hosting), but many of these sites try to do too much and end up with fragmented user experiences.
So, with the landscape as such and with Keyboard Cat playing Myspace out, Onesheet is stepping onto the scene at a pretty opportune time. Bands want a simple, automatic (and promotion-friendly) way to maintain an eIdentity, and Onesheet does this in a way that's not unlike About.me. As Alexia wrote last month, Onesheet thus enables bands to create and verify their identities through Facebook or Twitter and connect easily with third party services like Soundcloud, Bandcamp and ReverbNation. (As well as social media services like Posterous, Tumblr and YouTube.)
Bands can customize their Onesheet's design, making changes to simple stuff like font and widget positioning, but they really don't have to get their hands dirty, because their pages update themselves through connections with those other third party platforms.
With all this in place, today, only one month after its initial launch, Onesheet is coming out of limited beta. What does that mean? When the platform initially launched, one needed an invite or to sit on the waiting list before getting in, but now Onesheet is open and available so that anyone can sign up. And it's still free.
Another notable update that comes along with moving out of limited beta is that Onesheet is now offering a “preview” version of a “pro account”, (which Mulligan said has been in high demand since launch), that offers a greater degree of customization, including custom domain names, less Onesheet branding, more social network tie-ins, and so on. The pro accounts are currently in preview mode, which means that artists can opt-in to test out the features without paying. When pricing is announced, Mulligan told me, artists will be able to opt-in to keep the enhanced features, or revert back to the basic free account.
Among other updates, Onesheet now allows artist to add custom meta tags, customize the navbar, remove the “Onesheet header”, add like/follow buttons, connect Google analytics accounts, create custom icons for mobile, tablets, browsers, and Facebook, as well as the ability to add links to your band's music on iTunes, Beatport, CD Baby, Topspin, and Bandcamp (or add a custom link for sites Onesheet doesn't yet support).
These new features offer some great additional functionality for what is clearly a rapidly growing user base. Since launching, Onesheet has been on a tear, as Mulligan told me that today over 10,000 artists have signed up to use the service - all in just over one month. Among the artists now using Onesheet are Owl City, who have 6 million Facebook likes, Paramore, which has 18 million FB likes, and Mat Kearney, who spend most of last week as #1 on iTunes. Not too shabby.
For now, Onesheet continues in bootstrap mode, but Mulligan is clearly ramping up to begin monetizing through the addition of pro accounts, which will likely roll out in the next few months.
It's a cool site, so get out there and check it out, and let us know what you think.