One-hundred top hip-hoppers and indie rockers use Tracks.by to release their music and videos on Facebook. Now after a year of private work with a handpicked roster, Tracks.by is for the first time publicly offering invites to its music promotion platform. Artists and their managers can use Tracks.by to send out content that requires a Like or an email signup to play.
Big name investors see potential in Tracks.by’s focus on style, the feed, and building email lists. Path’s Dave Morin, Menlo Ventures, Lil Wayne’s manager Cortez Bryant and others have seeded Tracks.by. TechCrunch readers can sign up for an invite to Tracks.by below.
What makes Tracks.by so powerful is its Love button campaigns that let artists squeeze more dollars out of their existing Facebook fans. See, Tracks.by artists can publish Like-gated songs and music videos that play in-line within the feed, but they’ll mostly reach fans who’ve already Liked. Love button campaigns go a step further, allowing artists to ask existing fans “If you love me, sign up for email notifications to get early and exclusive content”.
Fans click the Love button and accept a Facebook data access permission, and their email address is automatically provided to the artist. Then when the performer releases an album, new merchandise, or concert tickets, they can send emails to people who love them, activating their most loyal followers to nab them a viral and sales boost.
Since Like- and Love-gated campaigns are value exchanges, they work best for established artists who have fans eager for their content. Smaller acts may want to just freely distribute their music rather than putting up a barrier to potential fans they haven’t won over yet. Tracks.by’s campaigns integrate with YouTube, VEVO, and Soundcloud, as well and include analytics.
Tracks.by was founded in June 2011 by Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni of Ustream, where they made connections with some of the world’s biggest musicians while leading product and VIP support. Node.js contributor Chase Sechrist and FbFund’s Erik Smith are also founders, and Matt and Mazy picked up their old boss at Ustream Bryan Kim as their first hire to complete the five-man team.
Beyond Morin, Menlo, and Cortez Bryant, Tracks.by’s investors include Greylock’s Josh Elman, Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg, Venture51, Zynga’s Alex Le, Mob Wars’ Dave Maestri, Naval and Nivi of Angelist, and Redpoint’s David Wu. Drake, Pitbull, Diddy, and Kimbra are some of the artists on the platform, and it works. Lil Wayne made a song available only to those who Loved him, and picked up 100,000 Loves and email addresses in 24 hours. Fellow rapper Gucci Mane picked up 600,000 plays of his album in 3 days via Tracks.by.
The fledgling music startup faces stern competition from more full-featured and well-funded music profile apps like BandPage and ReverbNation. It will need to move away from the grind of its old custom service model and keep innovating on its scalable platform. Otherwise it could be copied and become just a feature of another service.
To stay current and differentiate itself, Tracks.by is working on Twitter publishing, a transition to the Timeline Page format, and a Facebook Open Graph integration that will post to the Ticker whenever someone Loves an artist or plays/downloads one of their songs. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Tracks.by one day started catering to brands in addition to musicians.
I asked Ayal Kleinman, VP of New Media for Warner Brothers Records who has some artists on Tracks.by what he thought of the tool. He told me “rather than trying to replicate Myspace, it really embraces Facebook and how people are sharing music.” Marketers constantly ask ‘what’s the value of a Facebook Like?’. The answer is follow-up marketing, but a Love on Tracks.by can generate even more cash money.