We recently interviewed the founder of Staump.com, Tim Staump, to find out more about his site for independent musicians. Staump.com has created a web community of artists that can share their music via download or streams, and offers some interesting features, including:
- Aggregation of band materials from YouTube and Flickr.
- Tag-based searching / sorting, instead of single-genre music classification
- A “site stream,” which shows the latest activities by members. Since the site is in its early stages, now would be a good time to capitalize on this visibility, before the site grows and your share of the spotlight diminishes…
- Regular profiles are free, and they are developing PRO accounts that will enable full customization. The example linked to in the interview is pretty sweet…
- If you already have external blogs where you write updates on your musical goings-on, you can integrate them with your Staump “stream” so that they are fed to the entire Staump community. Very convenient syndication indeed!
Here are the questions and answers:
What sort of artists and bands (in terms of genre or career stage) do you think can benefit the most from using Staump?
We think anyone of any genre or career stage, who is interested in using the leveraging power of the Internet, will get benefit out of Staump.com. Different approaches to using the site will determine varying returns. In fact, there are quite a few features to the site that we don’t think any one person or band has truly taken complete advantage of yet. We’re not interested in any specific genre or style of music, but are simply fans of music as an art form. We are interested in the industry, the people behind it, and the people who just like to listen. This is why we have eschewed the idea of “genre” listings in favor of a tag based system, so that people may explain themselves a bit more thoroughly. As for the range of career stages on the site, one can find people who are just starting out, to established bands who have been playing for years with record deals, and all those in between.
What are you hoping will motivate bands and artists already on profile-driven networks to add Staump to their online marketing efforts?
Community is a very important thing to artists. What good is creating music if you can’t connect with people who enjoy what you’re doing? To actually use the site isn’t just about creating a profile, it’s about using the tools we provide to connect with those people. Yes, we offer profiles as a fundamental feature, but we don’t think that it is the centerpiece. The real “heart” of the site is the stream. The Sitestream offers a very broad view of the activity on the site, so you can see who is new, the latest song uploads, photos, etc. Each band’s profile page has a stream that shows only their activity, so you can get a more focused view on any particular band. There is also a “Favorites” page that consists of a stream of only the bands and artists that a given user is interested in following. We quickly found the “Favorites” page to be one of the most frequently visited because it lets the user focus on the recent activity of only who they want to keep track of.
What does Staump bring to the online music marketing efforts that other sites don’t?
Our vision for the site is to be an aggregation and community center point for bands and artists. A place to get all the up-to-date information from all over the net in one place, and then talk about it. The idea of status updates and bringing content together hasn’t quite yet hit the mainstream, and the sites that are doing it tend towards a broader, less focused stance, or are comprised mostly of the technology and social media inclined, so they tend to discuss that. What we want to do with Staump.com is take those ideas and give them a specific focus in one place that is perfect for it, and that’s the independent music scene.
Are the aggregation features on the end-user side only, or can artists “push” content to all their other online accounts such as YouTube and Flckr through Staump?
Currently we’re working hard to integrate services that musicians and fans alike are using to help them get their content onto Staump.com easily. But at the same time, we’re also big fans of openness in the social media world, so we’re definitely looking forward to implementing push features, as well as opening our platform under some social media standards like OpenSocial. We’re all about giving as much as we get when it comes to the social media scene.
Are there any insider “tips” for an artist to optimize their use of Staump to help promote their music?
The big thing that we don’t believe people have really picked up on is the streams. Specifically, the fact that you can comment on ANY item that passes through it. Any comment on a Staump specific item, like an uploaded song, a photo, or a blog post also displays the attached comment thread along with the item itself. Items with comments tend to stand out, not only visually, but also because the comments themselves add so much to the content of a given item. A good conversation about a song or a video is bound to get someone’s attention better than just letting the item slip by.
The other major under-used feature of Staump.com is the “permissions” available on a profile. The current climate of profile driven sites that people are used to use a “one person is one band” system. Staump.com, on the other hand, is designed for people from a more modern social media mindset. Member accounts are separated from band profiles so that you can actually add any number of Staump.com members as band members. What’s more, the person who created the band profile can assign permissions to band members to allow them to post to the band blog, upload pictures, modify the profile, etc. This gives people the possibility to turn band profiles into a collaborative effort from everyone in the band. It also means you can assign someone else, to manage your profile, while you actually own it and maintain control of it.
The other upside to separating member accounts from profiles is that any given member can belong to any number of bands, and keep that all tied to a single account. For example, Tim is in two different bands, as well as maintaining his own artist profile, all of which you can see and access from his member page. This lets him keep his identity, and also be active in all three bands at the same time.
How does an artist get coverage on Staump.com’s homepage?
The coverage is pretty subjective. It’s all people that we either really like the music of, or we felt contributed in a major way to the site. We’re looking at some other possibilities to help us make these distinctions, such as chart toppers, as well as more social oriented possibilities, like a “karma” system from social interaction. There’s tons of possibilities.
When did you launch Staump.com?
The original business plan was started in 2004. September 26, 2005 is the date the database was created, but our actual public launch wasn’t until October 31, 2006. The site, as you see it now with the modern feature set, was launched on June 22, 2008 to coincide with our annual Rock the Gaslamp showcase in downtown San Diego.
How many artists have active profiles on Staump?
Right now (July 21, 2008) there are 1260 artist profiles in the database.
Are there any special features in the pipeline that musicians should know about?
Due to popular demand, we just rolled out an introductory streaming audio player that shows up on all song pages. This lets artists choose whether or not they would like to allow downloads of their music, and still show it off either way. We’ll update this player with more features as we go along, as well as provide a configurable external player that people can embed elsewhere.
Even bigger, however, is our plan for “Pro Accounts.” A Pro Account will give people a good deal of major new features. For one, the ability to post embeddable items (like videos, music players, slideshows, etc.) from other sites onto their profile page. And even better, full access to modify the style of their entire profile page to make it look any way they want. You can see an example with the Maria Staump Band profile page at http://www.staump.com/mariastaumpband Musicians are artists, after all, and we understand that presentation of online presence is a big part of what they do and want.