BBM has launched a new music-discovery and artist-promotion service within BBM Discover called Stage360 Music. BBM Discover is a content platform, and the Stage360 Music portion of it will allow musicians and bands to upload their own content and interact with fans using BBM’s chat functionality. Stage 360 Music will see big-name local artists like Skwatta Kamp’s Slikour and fans talent scout up-and-coming artists, who’ll get to perform at Stage360 events.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the BBM App has been rendered redundant by WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and the like. But Creative Media Works — the company that runs the BBM app for Android and iOS — says there are over 2 million BBM users in South Africa alone, and that 70% of those are active daily. “[Stage360] is aimed at growing BBM Messenger’s monthly active users particularly within the young, urban demographic,” the company says in a press release.
It’s an interesting move for BBM considering Apple Music started out with a similar share-direct-to-fans feature for artists called “Connect”… and a year later let users hide the tab because so few of them were using it, and because so few artists were giving them reason to.
Nonetheless, let’s give Stage360 the benefit of the doubt. The 360 part refers to the sorts of 360-degree deals record labels — a group that’s had almost as tough a decade as BlackBerry — have been pursuing with artists. A 360 deal is one that sees the label take a cut of performances, merchandise and other revenue streams. In other words, the “360” bit means all-inclusive. So Stage360 wants to let artists secure gigs, share behind-the-scenes content, upload videos, the whole shebang.
“This service takes into account the evolution of social media and the popularity of messaging apps as the go-to place in the digital environment,” says Matthew Talbot, CEO of Creative Media Works. “Stage360 Music is a particular example of how we can give potential artists the tools, functionality and features to create a profile, share their music, and engage with their fans in an organic social environment.”
Digitally savvy artists — established and aspirational — are already using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to promote themselves, but those platforms don’t come with existing events or exposure of the sort Stage360 offers, which BBM is hoping will be particularly attractive to both talented artists in need of a break and fans looking for the inside track on the next big thing.
“Music is just the first of the Stage360 categories that BBM Messenger intends to launch,” Talbot says. “The goal is to create other categories that will fall under the 360 service such as comedy, short film and fashion.”