What is likeZEBRA? And how is it helping fans discover new music and giving independent and unsigned artists the necessary tools and know-how they need to get started and get heard?
We’ve told you before how sites like Big Live and Recreate My Night are using social media and interactive experiences to connect concert fans, celebrate concert memories and discover new music.
And now we’re going to explore the story of likeZebra to see how they’re empowering bands and connecting music fans with “the world’s largest hub for independent music.”
What Will You Discover?
Since 2008, as an alternative to the label route, likeZebra has been the DIY launching pad for a diverse lineup of artists ranging from rock, hip hop and jazz fusionists Ozolmatli to stand-up comedian and singer Margaret Cho.
When it comes to discovering new music, there’s definitely no shortage of genre selection and whatever type of new independent releases you’re looking for, you’ll find everything from rap and country to punk and funk when you browse likeZebra’s Discovery section.
2010 has been a busy year for likeZebra and they recently celebrated by hosting liveZEBRA 2010 that featured rock band Everclear and other artists, and benefited the music community organization Music Saves Lives.
But Are Music Fans, Artists and Venue Owners Like Zebras?
I guess so. Because, as noted in the FAQs, the site’s name comes from a clever social connection between music fans and zebras (who both like to travel in groups), and the ability of zebras to turn their ears 360 degrees to sense what’s hot around them.
And as I’ve checked out and cruised around likeZebra, I’ve been curious about a few things such as their set of tools for both artists and music fans.
But how does the site equip bands to successfully set up tours? And how will likeZebra improve the live music experience for concert fans?
To answer those questions, let’s take a deeper dive into their story in this interview with A&R Director Jon Taggart as he shares what inspired him and the likeZebra team to create the platform, what separates them from other sites, and why he’s excited about what’s coming up in 2011 for fans, bands and venue owners.
LF: What live performance, touring and concert industry experiences played a major role in developing likeZEBRA? What have you learned the most during the beta stage?
JT: As a former touring musician, I’ve put blood, sweat and tears into finding success as an artist. After my group broke up, I decided to develop a website that would have been useful to me and all the bands I’ve toured with. During the beta stage, the most important thing I’ve learned is to listen to our users and provide them with the tools they need to reach new fans. These fans are excited to be able to discover new artists before their friends do.
You offer several music tools for bands when they join. How does likeZEBRA help artists get gigs and prepare for touring and make the most of their live performances?
We are getting ready to release a DIY Tour Builder tool that will give artists the ability to book their own tours by connecting to a database of venues throughout the US. We also post and repost many articles in our Buzz Blog that give useful touring advice to artists who are just starting out.
What’s the most common misconception that bands struggle with when they sign up, and how do you help them work through those struggles?
Bands are hesitant to sign up for more social networks. Many times, they lose track of accounts or question the usefulness of the sites. likeZEBRA helps these problems by offering relevant tools and the ability to sync artist and fan accounts with Twitter. Once they sign up, artists quickly realize how easy it is to engage with new fans on the site.
What separates likeZEBRA from other sites that offer similar tools and platforms? What did you set out to do better and improve on?
The biggest difference between likeZEBRA and other musical sites is we only work with independent and unsigned artists. We are working to make success easier to obtain for hardworking musicians. The promotional tools that can be found on likeZEBRA.com are relevant to the needs of artists.
My staff and I come from musical backgrounds, so we know what is useful to connect bands and fans. We also understand that artists need fans to survive. We value the fans just as highly as the artists themselves.
How can fans get involved, discover new bands and support their favorite bands through likeZEBRA? How does likeZEBRA plan to improve the live music experience, or listening to live shows online for fans?
The easiest way to discover new bands is with our Discover button on the likeZEBRA streaming music player. It randomizes the site’s playlist with 10 new songs to love and add to your account’s playlist.
To better support artists, becoming a fan on the site and communicating through likeZEBRA and other social networks will increase the range of interested fans. We have exciting future plans to further increase the live concert experience between artists and fans, but are unable to discuss it at this point.
A special feature for venues is coming soon. Can you tell us more about how that option will help venues and why you decided to make likeZEBRA available to venues?
We recently took a new route with booking shows and will be putting control in the hands of likeZEBRA artists. We are in the process of constructing a DIY Tour Builder portion of the site for every one of our musicians. This will allow bands to select a venue to contact within a desired city and state.
The booked tour dates will be accessible to fans via the artist’s likeZEBRA pages and spread virally through their various social networks. We’ve learned from speaking to fans that the number one reason why they don’t attend shows is because they don’t know about them. This tool will solve that problem.
As touring continues to be a crucial element to a band’s success, how will likeZEBRA evolve to meet this need for bands and fans? What are the next steps for likeZEBRA?
The latest evolution of likeZEBRA.com is the DIY Tour Builder. With this tool, artists can book shows all over the country with relative ease and reach all-new fans. Our next step is to release a Discovery app for smartphones.
An iPhone app will be the first to be released, with an Android version following shortly after. This is another tool for fans to stay current with their favorite artists, while discovering new acts to enjoy.
Thanks again to John for sharing his and the likeZebra story!
What Say You?
How do you think likeZebra fits into the picture with Ping, TuneCore, Reverbnation and other music distribution services and independent music discovery sites available to artists and music fans?
Fans or artists: Have you used likeZebra? What do you think of the site? What other music sites do you use to discover new independent music, or go the DIY route to get your music career started?