// File Sharing For Artists: Drop.io and "The Live Animals"
Earlier today, Fetti G (musician, producer, and ubiquitous multimedia guru and “Digital Genius”) released a free album for his fans and friends: A collection of instrumental jams and textural loops called “Humans Will Betray You” by The Live Animals .But even in 2010, sending out a whole album’s worth of free material to your fans still isn’t as easy as it should be for artists like Fetti. Email wasn’t really built for large attachments, so many people end up using file sharing services like RapidShare or MegaUpload to host the files — and then send out links to those files via email. While I appreciate that there are companies providing free hosting, I really hate the whole “Wait 45 Seconds While You Look At These Ads Before We Let You Download The Thing You Wanted” approach to file sharing.
Personally, I think there’s a better way to go if you’re an artist — and it’s called drop.io.
From DUMBO With Love…
Like Fetti G, the drop.io team is developing their plan for world domination under the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge overpass. Staying true to Brooklyn’s reputation for it’s…shall we say…fighting spirit, the company is trying to take a headlong leap past its competition by offering an overwhelming array of free and premium features. Something else that I like — drop.io is promoting an open API that lets people write cool programs and mash-ups that work seamlessly with their service.
Why I Think drop.io Is Perfect For Artists
A Great Free Service (and a *Fantastic* Premium One!)
The free service gives you 100MB of space to play with (or in their parlance, “a drop”) — more than enough for an album’s worth of material, cover art, etc. Instead of generating some random-looking address, drop.io allows you to customize it with the name of your band or album (i.e., http://drop.io/theliveanimals). Need more than 100 MB to showcase your stuff? You can buy more space for a pretty cheap price — $10 per gigabyte per year. Nice!
Even better, your fans can download your music right away (drop.io doesn’t make people wait or subject them to intrusive pop-up ads). And for even more instant gratification, drop.io lets you music lovers preview the tracks without downloading them.
A Place To Collaborate
If instead of sharing your files with the world, you’d rather use a drop as a private place to share tracks with your collaborators, you can do that as well by locking down the privacy settings.
Your fans can sign up for email alerts if you add a file to your drop (like a new track, for example) — or they can just subscribe to your drop’s RSS feed if they’d rather get updates with their news-reader.
Awesome Integration with Social Media
Taking those Alerts a step further, you can also set up automatic update notification to go out to your fans from your Twitter account, post it to your Facebook wall, or even use services like Ping.FM to send it everywhere (like, say, a Posterous blog),
For a free album, you probably want your music to be as easy to share as possible…but pointing back to a place where you can talk to your fans! The drop.io service creates easily embeddable links so that fans and writers can share a track with their friends and readers — while you still benefit from those links bringing people back to your site!:
(Try the example below)
Really Interesting Ways To Keep The Conversation Going
Drop.io will give your drop a free voicemail number where your fans can call and leave a message for you on the drop (hopefully telling you how awesome your stuff is!) and a free email address where they can share their own remixes, art, etc. And if that wasn’t enough to stroke that sensitive artistic ego of yours, there are also free FAX, conference call, and group chat features — including integration with apps like iChat and Adium — designed to keep the conversation going between you and your fans. (Did I mention that this is all free? )
Fans and friends can even subscribe to all your latest uploads in iTunes as a podcast, automatically receiving your latest releases.
An Easy Path to Sell Your Stuff!
And…you know… if you actually wanted to make some money, drop.io has a really good, simple option there as well.
Using Amazon.com’s Flexible Payments Service for billing, drop.io lets you set up a paywall that allows you to charge for your digital content in a variety of ways — including monthly or yearly subscriptions. If you’ve been looking for a way to set up a “Members Only Fan Club”, then look no further (In fact, the drop.io team did a “use case study” for a band that wanted to sell online access to their fan club that is worth a read)!
A Premium Service — with Google Analytics!
Upgrade to the Premium Service and get some additional tools to take your release to the next level. If you already have a free Google Analytics account, you can use it with the upgraded drop.io Premium service to track where your listeners are coming from and which tracks they are interested in!
Not Just For Musicians
As you’ve already figured out, all of these features would be equally useful to a variety of “digital creatives”: photographers or font artists looking to sell stock items, ebook/newsletter/podcasts looking to monetize their publications, graphic artists who need to create “client folder” for deliverables…. it’s really pretty easy to adapt drop.io to whatever you need it to do (which is why I am a fan).
Drop.io isn’t the only game in town and I expect the competition will adapt and specifically target some of the groups above with more specialized offerings (for example — check out “The Live Animals” page on Bandcamp). But for now, I think drop.io is on the leading edge of what’s out there — and I whole-heartedly endorse it to all of my friends, clients, and collaborators!