In our Case Study features, we look at artists and music-oriented companies who are striving to do something different.  They understand that being successful as an independent musician requires innovation and risk, and they embrace both, generally with phenomenal results. Today, we look at Minneapolis-based electro-rockers modernsextrash and, more specifically, their website, modernsextrash.com.


largelogo - modersextrash

There is a deafening amount of talk concerning the need for companies to embrace “Web 2.0″ and use social media to engage consumers, creating ongoing conversations that convert people from curious onlookers into invested fans.  Some companies are failing miserably, while others are so forward thinking that many marketers are beside themselves, trying to duplicate their efforts.

modernsextrash definitely falls into the forward-thinking latter category with their brilliant web-portal modernsextrash.com and (self-owned) record company, Panacea3.

From their website description:

The website showcases portals into alternate realities for fans and/or curious individuals, allowing the viewers to escape their everyday lives by discovering and interacting with the group. The plan is to create the “mst virus” to spread the word through social groups and the media.

The ever-evolving group will never “disappear”, for they will always be within reach for their fans

It may sound like marketing fluff, but in this case, it is exactly what the website accomplishes.

Connection

Running across the top of every page on their site is a menu highlighting the myriad of ways that fans can interact with the band and their music online, from flickr and YouTube to Facebook and Twitter and more, as well as a link to a Google search for the band, their store and more.

navbar - modernsextrash.com

This menu bar not only allows fans to find the band anywhere and everywhere online, but it also shows that the band has been putting in their time across the web. Their fans can interact with them as much or as little as they like in whatever their preferred forum may be.

Not Your Typical Artist News

One of the most innovative parts of their site is found within their news updates. They tend to avoid typical music website updates (“Request us your local radio station…” and other ineffective calls to action) and focus on news that interest the band members (and, one can assume, their fans): stories on social media, links to what band members are doing when not with the band, etc.

websitesnippet - modernsextrash.com

By taking this portal-like approach, they can guarantee that fans will spend a longer time on the website, increasing the odds that they will click through to purchase music or one of the other options.

Creative Commons 3.0

modernsextrash have also taken this social media-based perspective in their copyright, licensing all of the site an its content under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical-Share Alike 3.0 license.  In layman’s terms, it means that fans can remix and share the content there as long as they attribute it back the original rights holder, do it for noncommercial purposes, and maintain the same Creative Commons License.  Many savvy fans see this as forward thinking step, and with the potential audience that user-generated content can reach, we recommend that more artists consider this type of license.

Almost Perfect

While they are doing an amazing job of connecting with the fans online and achieving near-omnipresence through social media, the one area the band seems to be lacking is under the “access” section of their menu, the section where they intend to, “…bridge the gap between the digital realm and your real life experience.”  As of right now, there is nothing there, and this section may be the most vital, more important than YouTube or Twitter or any of their other parts of the website.

Why is this so important? This is area where the real power of their web 2.0 strategy will manifest itself, as it will pull everything the band is doing online into the real world lives of their fans, completing the circuit.  This is where the physical interaction will be initiated, creating an actual community where the fans will see and feel the results of all of their virtual interaction through phone calls, video chats, contests, forums and, of course, live performances and other events.

Per the band, this section is still a work in progress, and needless to say, we can’t wait to see the results and discover the ways that the band takes things to the proverbial next-level.

Additionally, parts of the site tend to feel somewhat bare-bones and lacking in the deep content that satiates fans who wish to immerse themselves in everything that an artist has to offer.  Granted, these will fill in as the band continues to create content, tour and incorporate user-generated content, but it is still an issue, especially as the early-adopter fans are those who generally become an artist’s most-vocal champions further down the road if they’ve been taken well-care-of in terms of content at the beginning.

Conclusion

Despite the unfinished “access” area and lack of deep content, and while the site layout and graphic style may not be for every artist, the principles behind it are indeed something every independent musician should be putting into practice.  In the post-Platinum world that the music industry finds itself, the artists who will succeed are those who are able to convert the curious listeners into avid (rabid?) fans.  A significant part of doing that comes through communicating with fans on their terms and providing access to not just the music, but the experience that you (and your music) create.  modernsextrash are an excellent example of a band that is striving to provide their fans with that very thing.

Thoughts on modernsextrash.com? Things you would do differently? Other ways that you have seen success from musicians implementing web 2.0 design principles and content? Please share in the comments below or via Twitter.


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