The Next Big Thing?

My label

My label

OK first off – my apologies. I meant to blog about this site about a month ago, when I stumbled across it on Mashable, and I have only just got round to it.

The site is called The Next Big Sound. It’s a music social network site that lets you discover new bands. *hears sound of snoring*. I know, I know – sounds familiar doesn’t it, but bear with me.

The differentiator in the site is that it lets you – the user- become the label. In simple terms, this just means instead of ‘adding’ friends, or ‘joining’ groups as with traditional soc nets this site asks the user to ‘sign’ bands that you like. The registration process involves founding your own label, and then you’re encouraged to sign acts that you like to your label.

Now if I’m honest there are a number of limitations to the site, despite how nice it looks. Firstly, the bands are all US centric at the moment (no band thing, I love Americana College Rock – ala Death Cab– as much as the next guy, and the recently added Map function does mean you can build up location-based ‘scenes’).

Secondly there is very little engagement or dialogue between you and the bands you sign, making it a rather lonely experience. MySpace changed the way that fans could interact with acts they liked, and the absence of any messaging element seems a little strange here. Indeed there’s actually very little information available on some of the bands.

Thirdly, the filtering and search functions are very restrictive. This means that scouting for bands is actually quite tiresome, and relying on the automated filter (similar to the Last.fm system) kind of takes the fun out of playing the role of an A&R man on the hunt for the next band who can make you a million

It’s actually this ‘play’ element though that made me sit up and take notice of the site. You’re restricted to signing 10 bands, which encourages you to be selective with who you sign – it’s a nice touch as you have to go for quality over quantity. For every signing you score points, the more popular and higher rated the band, the more points you earn.

This adds a competitive edge that is more akin to a casual game than a purely ‘social’ virtual music experience, which I thought was an interesting development. I’m not sure how the site expects to monetise the service, but if users are compelled to ‘play’ while they discover new music then it could prove very popular . If it’s of interest – a couple of bands I’ve signed and really like are somanydynamos (read it backwards…) and Han Ma and the Camaros.

And in other engagement/ music/ label news – why not buy shares in Patrick Wolfe for your loved one this Christmas?

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