Nimbit’s MyStore Lets Bands Tap the Power of Facebook to Promote Music and Merchandise

It’s not getting any easier to write and perform great music. But for up-and-coming artists, it is getting easier to build a fan base—especially if they can get their fans to do part of the work for them.

That’s the idea behind MyStore, a new Facebook application launched last week by Framingham, MA-based Nimbit. The five-year-old startup builds online tools that help artists sell and market their music directly to fans, with no need for a middleman like a recording label or a promoter. Up to now, that’s mainly taken the form of a Web-based platform that bands can plug into their websites or blogs, allowing them to do things like track fans, promote concerts, and sell digital downloads, tickets, CDs, and other merchandise. But with MyStore, Nimbit has transplanted its marketing and e-commerce engine into the world’s largest social networking site—which means every transaction a band or artist conducts can potentially be magnified many times over by the power of its fans’ social connections.

Once an artist or a band joins Nimbit and sets up a MyStore tab in their Facebook profile, Facebook’s own networking tools swing into action on their behalf. Every time a fan plays a song from the MyStore, or buys a download, or leaves a comment, that action shows up on their wall for all of their friends to see. If a Facebook member recommends a band to a friend, the recommendation will lead them back to the band’s MyStore. And nobody ever has to leave Facebook to make a purchase—the store provides a shopping cart, credit-card processing, the whole e-commerce shebang.

It’s a big step for Nimbit, whose main previous venture into the social networking world was an “online merchandise table” widget for MySpace. The 14-employee company, which has angel funding from Lexington, MA-based CommonAngels, was already growing fast, with 10,000 artists and labels signed up as users and 50 percent year-over-year revenue growth, according to co-founder and CEO Patrick Faucher, himself a professional trumpet player and vocalist. With Facebook’s population zooming past 300 million users (and MySpace’s plummeting at a similar rate) the MyStore integration could become an important new selling point for Nimbit. I talked last week with Faucher, and had a chance to ask him how the MyStore app can help artists, how social networking fits into the company’s vision, and what it was like to work with Facebook. An edited version of our conversation follows.

Xconomy: Obviously most serious bands have a MySpace presence. Is there a lot of music discovery going on through the other social networking sites?

Patrick Faucher, co-founder and CEO of NimbitPatrick Faucher: It depends on the genre and the demographic. Some might do well on MySpace, some might do well on traditional radio, and some are still basically out there doing regional touring, and that’s where they are generating exposure. But at some point in every artist’s process for marketing and promotion, there is an opportunity for a fan to interact with them online, whether that happens to be on MySpace or on their own official website or on Facebook. That is the point at which we maximize that interaction, by making sure the artists can capture their fans, engage them with product offers, and give them a rewarding way to buy directly from them.

X: If you’re an artist or a band, why go to the trouble of building a store inside Facebook—what’s wrong with iTunes?

PF: If the fan has taken the time to find you and you have them right there in front of you, why send them down the street to buy from someone else? We act as a transparent layer between the artist and the fan. Our job is to … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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