Going in to my first pitch as a consultant to ThingLink, I have to admit I was a little bit skeptical. Sure, it took about three minutes for me to be completely sold on the product — sitting in a freezing room at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, I saw a demo and immediately wanted to be part of the team. But would my contacts in the music industry feel the same way? I had set up a nice handful of meetings to showcase the product, sure, but were these folks just doing me a favor because they knew me from my days as an editor at Billboard? What had I gotten myself into, anyway?
About ten minutes in to the meeting, I saw the label president’s eyes light up as she slowly said “this. is. so. cool.” And then I knew I had made the right choice.
We get that reaction a lot, and I joke that ThingLink is the dream client — the product is easy to use, free, and offers infinite possibilities. And people in the music industry are starting to see it that way, too, for the most part. I’m constantly excited by the level of creativity and thoughtfulness in the ThingLinked images labels and managers send me.
In some way, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. People in music are creative types, and if any artist ever tells you they aren’t concerned with and invested in their image, they are lying. Even those who cultivate an unwashed, slacker air, do so with the utmost care. Some, like Lady Gaga and Kanye West, are open about creating and manipulating their visuals, while others pretend not to mind (but you know they paid $200 for that perfect bedhead haircut, and those shredded Rogan jeans don’t come for free, either).
But once an artist had created the perfect visual and hired a great photographer to commit it to film, there was nothing else they could do with it. Until ThingLink. Now, an artist, label, manager, or publicist can take that perfectly crafted, often not-cheap-to-capture image, and use it as a jumping off point for telling a story, creating a puzzle, or driving commerce.
Alex Damashek is great indie hip-hop manager, and used ThingLink within his own site to tell the stories of each of this artists. Where he previously had a list of links, Alex embedded audio, video, and links in photos of each of his artists and let ThingLink tell the tale. It’s a great way to get viewers to explore the page, click around, and listen and learn.
Commerce: Thanh Nguyen was an early adopter who understood the power of ThingLink and used it to drive interest in the new albums by Simple Plan and Shadows on Stars. He went so far as to have Simple Plan actually make a video explaining the product and driving users to play around and pre-order the new album. In the first few hours, the click through rate for the image was over fifty percent.
Ed Kiang at Wind-Up is a digital genius, and used Thinglink to tag an image of Evanescence with links to all the band’s social media platforms. It was a great way to announce the band’s new album, get fans excited, and make sure they were aware of all the band’s online properties.
Ticketing and events: The new Eventbrite tag could be used to sell tickets to the event, as well as embedding video of the opening acts to get fans excited enough to come early and check them out. In the past, there were too many steps between seeing a poster for an event and actually buying a ticket, but with the Eventbrite tag, the process is seamless.
And I could go on and on, listing examples, but that seems like a cheap way to flesh out a post. And this is all the process of a summer’s worth of work — who knows what will happen in the next three months (six months, year)?
I think we’re just scratching the surface of what the music industry can do with ThingLink. One idea I’ve tossed around is to break an album cover into six parts, assign a clip of a new track to each, and then spread that all over the web for fans to find. The traffic could potentially go through the roof as fans tried to figure out the puzzle. ThingLink can also be used for announcements and brand partnerships — link up whatever a stylish artist happens to be wearing to an ecommerce platform and watch the fans click away.
Only a few months after that first, nerve wracking meeting, I’ve come to see the disruptive, amazing power of ThingLink for music. And, to quote that cheesy song you’ve heard way too many times, “we’ve only just begun.”
Cortney Harding is a music evangelist for start-ups, including ThingLink and official.fm. She was previously the music editor and indies correspondent at Billboard magazine, and knows way too much about the music industry for any sane person. Follow her on Twitter or on Tumblr.