Saturday, December 15, 2007

iLike helps bands get the word out to fans

By Brier Dudley
Seattle Times staff columnist

Leveraging its remarkable 13 million users, Seattle-born social music startup iLike is introducing a platform of services to help musicians promote their music and concerts and communicate with fans.

The free Artists Services Platform launching today is a dashboard for artists and managers to control iLike tools for distributing messages, blogs and videos to their fans using iLike.

"Our overall directional statement is that we think we can become the largest and dominant fan community site," co-founder Hadi Partovi said.

Among the tools, a broadcasting application called iCast stands out. It's for posting music, video, audio and text messages. For instance, it lets musicians take videos with their cellphones and send the video to a personal iLike e-mail address that forwards them to fans.

Partovi said big bands such as U2 now have more fans using iLike on Facebook than they do on the bands' own Web sites and MySpace pages.

"We think it's about 40 percent of all artists that have more fans in their iLike community than they have on their MySpace community," he said.

Partovi said the 28-person company, which is divided between Seattle and San Francisco, has been so focused on its Facebook-driven growth that it hasn't done a lot to monetize the service with ads. It plans to get to that in about six months, probably by adding banner ads and sponsorships to start.

A new "social music" widget coming this fall from Microsoft's Zune sounds a lot like iLike's service, which displays users' recently played songs and favorites and enables friends to discuss music they're listening to.

Partovi isn't too worried about the challenge from his former employer, though.

"My main thing is that we've demonstrated enough success in the space that a lot of people try to copy [our] success," he said. "At the size we're at and the growth we're seeing, I'm not worried about somebody catching up with us."

More on iLike

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