Usync: A music fan relationship management site
I’ve written before about sites like ReverbNation, Urbanited, and FanCorps that are providing tools for bands to organize street teams directly. Australian site Usync, one of 8 finalists at the Popkomm Innovation in Music & Entertainment Award (IMEA), seems to be taking this even further. Their rhetoric couldn’t be more like my own, very heavy emphasis on recognizing the value of direct relationships with fans and fan bases and figuring out how (or in this case, providing the means) to work it.
Usync looks very slick, and wonderfully customizable (more Virb than MySpace) so every band can have their own look, feel, system on there. One of ReverbNation’s very clever insights has been that you can’t tie the bands or the fans to their URL, so they’re big on providing exportable content, widgets and the like, so that bands can use it as a base to reach fans all over the place. While Usync looks like they’ve got a great set up on their own site –everything from posting (and selling) merchandise to organizing street teams to blogging — I am not clear on whether the expectation is that fans sign up on Usync and spend their time on there to hang out “backstage” (to use their central metaphor) with the band or if it’s more of a base for wider distribution like ReverbNation. If it’s the former, I don’t think it’s gonna fly on a large scale in the long run. Fans have favorite haunts, but they just aren’t hanging out in one place anymore.
I am all for this notion that bands (and everyone else who has fans) need to understand the power of direct relationship with fans, but I also feel some concern about the top-down version of events sites like this impose. We mustn’t lose sight of the importance of fans building their own spaces around the things they love, or of the value of reaching out to fans through fan-built spaces. The internet disrupts the hierarchy where the artists have total control. Part of learning to work the fan-artist relationship is learning how to give fans power and like it. There are by definition limits on the extent to which that can happen in a space that the artist controls. Artists should use their own spaces to relate to fans, but they should encourage fan-built spaces too.
Have any readers spent any time with Usync? I would love to hear feedback from users or explorers.