RootMusic, whose free BandPage application is the one of the most popular on Facebook, has teamed up with Topspin to add even more juice to its app.
BandPage is currently used by more than 200,000 bands to set up pages on Facebook, which in many ways has become to musicians what MySpace was several years ago: an online marketing outlet capable of reaching hundreds of millions of people. Taylor Swift, Arcade Fire and Kanye West are among those who use BandPage to market their albums and let fans listen to free samples of their songs.
With Topspin, a music-technology startup based in Santa Monica, BandPage on Monday let artists also sell merchandise on their Facebook pages.
"We've been asked many times about other things that make an artist's career really successful," said J Sider, who founded the San Francisco-based RootMusic a little over a year ago. "We're excited to now provide them with solutions that are beyond the marketing."
The ability to sell merchandise directly to fans from Facebook is harder than it may seem. Doing so requires a system for processing payments, fulfilling orders and tracking sales on behalf of artists. Topspin already does these things, and more, for thousands of bands who have their own websites, but it it had until now not expanded to Facebook, whose estimated 700 million users represent a potential gold mine.
For now, the "merch" will involve largely physical goods, not the kind of virtual items sold on Facebook by social games such as FarmVille or Pet Society. That means vinyl records, T-shirts bundled with CDs or other collectible souvenirs that bands are increasingly relying on to make ends meet.
Whether by design or happy coincidence, the sale of physical goods is not currently subject to the "Facebook tax" -- a 30% cut that Facebook garners from the sale of virtual items or digital content on its platform.
The upshot for bands?
Ian Rogers, chief executive of Topspin, said, "This will help spread the concept of artist-as-retailer to the most popular place on the Web," meaning Facebook.
-- Alex Pham