When Facebook announced their plans for Facebook Music, to inevitably to fill the last gap they had between MySpace, I was pretty excited, albeit interested in how they would pull it off.  Facebook is so great because it’s really functional — they make tools and leave the community-building to its users.  Where much of MySpace was plagued by garish design and oppressive restrictions, their music scene has always been vibrant and a viable force in the industry.

But what about Facebook Music? Unlike MySpace, with its feature-rich music profiles, Facebook Music is almost thrown in with all the other “Page” features they offer (for brands, celebrities, and the like) with a few music-specific options like a Discography section and a partnership with iLike.

For those of you used to MySpace, Facebook Music works a bit differently.  With MySpace, you can sign up for a musician-specific account and use it as a profile to interact with other members as well. With Facebook, you can only sign up for profiles — meaning a band, for instance, can’t make their own profile with their own friends list, messaging system, etc.  Instead, you have to use a “host” profile account to build a Musician/Band Page from and that acts as an administrator for the Page (yes, capital P, as Facebook calls them Pages).

This can be a huge pain later, as those new to Facebook first have to create a profile, then create a Musician/Band Page — and if they’re new members, they don’t have any friends to communicate with.    You can make other people administrators on the account that gain the same privileges as the person who created the Page.  Tip — if you’re a label or manage a ton of artist pages, I’d recommend making a dummy profile page, and then make all your Musician/Band Pages using that profile; that way, when you want to change a lot of administrator settings to add more people later on, you only have to sign into one profile to make the changes instead of logging in and out of 10 different profiles.

Once you have your Page set up, other users can become “Fans” of you and are opted-in to receive updates from your Page.

Who needs Facebook Music?

Right now, I’d say not everyone.  While anyone can make good use of the features on Facebook, if you’re not sure and you’re still trying to build your online repertoire, I wouldn’t stick Facebook on an automatic “must-have” list.   The biggest limitation on it is its closed-network atmosphere — it’s hard to grow a big Facebook network from people who don’t know you, so it’s best to start with your fans and friends that are already there.

Artists who can make the most of Facebook Music are those who:

1. Already use Facebook somewhat regularly and have a network built – With a network to start from, you can use you and your friends’ interests to find more fans and events to build from

2. Perform a lot – the events feature and ability to update fans constantly via the status update feature, photo tagging, and comment walls make it a good way to keep everyone in the loop.  Plus, event invitations are a Godsend for people like me who have a lot of shows they want to go to but can’t keep up with them all.

3. Are trying to appeal to Facebook’s demographic (i.e. early-mid 20s, college students) – This demographic prefers Facebook to MySpace, so if you want to find what they’re into, you almost have to be on Facebook.

Making the Most of Your Page

Make It Social  The best thing about Facebook is that while it’s more closed, it’s also a bit more intimate.  Upload photos from your shows, and tag photos of fans and friends.  Keep fans updated with messages and status updates.  Be social!

Make it Organized Facebook users hate clutter.  You can’t jazz up your page like on MySpace, so choose widgets, information, and graphics sparingly — be careful of what message you want to communicate to those who look at your Page.  Tip – import the RSS feed to your “Notes” from your web site or MySpace so you don’t have to keep updating both places. Remember that your music and craft are what they’re looking for!

Keep it Updated Facebook changes fast; the more you update and grow your network, the more connections you can make with your fans.

Then make sure you tell everyone you have a Facebook page — put a link (prominently) on your web site, MySpace page, your newsletter, etc.  Let your exisiting fans find you!

Overall, Facebook Music is a good tool that appeals to Facebook users, but doesn’t have artists in mind like Last.FM, Imeem, or MySpace Music.  It is just too hard and complicated to make a dent on Facebook — so if you’re going to make a splash on Facebook, you’ll have to work at it a bit — it’s harder to be “found” on Facebook as a musician, but easier to keep a lot of people updated at once.