Since Music-Alerts caught on last week, my partners and I debated exactly what to do with it. We pretty much concluded what I’d mentioned previously: try to grow the user base by keeping the core application simple, and strategically place affiliate links to buy/download items. Instead of whoring out the site with ads and other content to try to make affiliate sales and force ad clicks, our approach ensures we keep the appeal of the site. As I’ve mentioned previously, the only way this will make us any kind of substantial money is if it takes off BIG, and for that you need to focus more on growth and less on squeezing every penny out of every visit. It’s not like we’re relying on this as a revenue source for the company. This is still very much a “side project”.
With that, we needed a way to get out of the “techsphere” and into the mainstream…where most people don’t know what RSS is. The simplicity of Music Alerts coupled with the social nature of music preferences, makes it the perfect candidate for a Facebook Application. I haven’t really drank the Kool-Aid on Facebook apps like everyone else has, but I do see them as a valuable marketing tool for the right type of site.
The Music-Alerts Facebook Application actually expands a bit on the Music-Alerts site. You can install the application by going to http://apps.facebook.com/music-alerts/. Once installed, the app looks just like the Music-Alerts site:
After entering your list, your profile is updated with some of your favorite artists and their recent releases.
When you go back to the application, you now see all of your upcoming album releases and have the option to add/delete artists.
The app has a few bugs that I know about, but in most instances it seems to work fine. It’s hard to tell if the known issues are caused by Facebook (there are a lot of reports that the Facebook platform isn’t always stable) or by my code…so I’m going to wait to see if/when I should address them. Developing on the Facebook platform wasn’t really what I expected, but I am overall impressed with how they’ve set it up, and I’d definitely recommend that any PHP programmer spend a weekend learning it – the Facebook community is too powerful not to know how to develop for it. I only spent about 10 hours programming the MA app, and a simpler app could be developed in an hour or two. Tip: if you don’t have PHP 5 installed on your server, you’ll likely run into issues using Facebook’s PHP 4 Client Library like I did. This third party Client Library did the trick for me.
If you get a chance to take the app for a spin, I’d appreciate a quick comment below on your experiences.