Find New Artists and Show Your Favorite Bands You Love Them with Tastemaker X
Tastemaker X, which just came out of beta on June 15, 2012, lets users "buy" stock in their favorite musicians and bands. The site offers a fun way to show your support for the artists you love--and your excellent taste--as well as social media features that let you follow other users and give them kudos on their purchases. It also offers easy ways to share your love for your favorite musicians to Twitter and Facebook.
Once you've started building your portfolio you can also use Tastemaker X as a recommendation engine. Other users and the main pages of the site give you thousands of bands to try. When used in concert with sites that allow you to stream music, it gives you an endless stream of new music to sample.
The site can be a little difficult to navigate at first and the community and help pages are still coming on-line. This tutorial should help you get started. If you can't figure out how to do something or you have more tips on how to use Tastemaker X to find great new music, I'd love to hear from you!
Right now they're having a promo that allows you to get a 10% boost in the number of notes you start with on the site. Use the promo code HEATWAVE in the settings screen under your profile to get an extra 2,500 notes!
The First Steps in Setting Up a Portfolio
Like any social web site, Tastemaker X needs you to create a profile, including a user name and password. The steps for doing so follow the usual pattern so there's no need to detail them here, but if you're on an iPhone be aware that there's a special app for your device that streamlines the site for mobile use.
I don't have one so I use the regular web application. Once you've created a profile you can upload a picture and answer some music-related questions by clicking on the little person on the top right of the screen and selecting "Settings". The site has yet to offer a way to add links to other social media profiles, though the icons will appear just below your user photo.
If you have trouble getting set up on the site, there are FAQs and an e-mail address on the Tastemaker X help page. In my experience the site's founders respond quickly both to e-mails and on their Twitter stream. I'm no part of the team so I can't help with bugs but if you have questions you can post them here, too. If I don't know the answer I'll get it for you!
The Latest Updates to TastemakerX
TastemakerX is an evolving site so they're introducing new features, some of which don't appear to have a use...yet. For instance, you earn activity points for doing things like liking an artist and giving another player "props" on a trade. There's no explanation of what those are for or how they're used, but they show up at the top of the screen.
My favorite recent addition is the "Portfolio Details" page that shows you the value of your total shares, how many available notes you have, and then lists the bought at and current values for all of the artists in whom you purchased shares. It also tells you how much the price has changed and the total of the notes you've earned (or lost!) on that artist. Thus I can quantitatively state that my shares in Robotic Pirate Monkey (not a made-up example) have risen nearly 187% since I purchased them while Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are down 8%.
The latest new incentive to play on TastemakerX? Daily interest. Every day that you visit the site they give you free notes to spend on your favorite bands or for picking up a few shares in someone new. It's a small number--I think I got 68 or so today--but it certainly adds up quickly. While shares of some little-known or brand new artists go for a low as a quarter of a note each, that buys you a mess of little purchases that might just take off and really grow your portfolio. That's what tastemaking is all about, after all!
As a music blogger (at The Not-Pop Jukebox, if you're interested), I have an insatiable appetite for new music. I've cultivated a number of different sources, both promoters that the average listener won't know and on-line sources where I can listen to music for free before I recommend it to my readers. Naturally, I don't use and won't recommend sites that offer illegal downloads or pirated track but I love to find new places to get recommendations and hear new music. Where do you "try before you buy" on the Internet?
A New Tool to Make Other Sites Better
Once you've got your profile set up, it's time to trade! Tastemaker X provides you with 25,000 "notes" to get you started. Think of a band you really enjoy and type the name into the search box at the top right. The search will give you any matching artists already on the site. If you're like me and you like some fairly obscure musicians that don't pop up already, a blank slate of search results offers you a place to recommend the artist for inclusion.
When you find someone in whom you want to invest (fake money though it is) click their name and it will take you to their artist page, complete with a list of the band's biggest investors, recent trades, and a graph showing the history of share values. This is where you get to the social and new music parts of the site. Click the "Trade" button and tell the site how many shares you'd like to buy. It will calculate the number of notes you'll pay and give you a total. Then simply confirm you choice.
Share prices for artists range anywhere from .25 notes to around 35 notes each, depending on how popular they are and how recent trades have run. Most indie bands run in the 2-3 note range and a number of popular, older groups tend to sit around the 10-15 note price for shares which means that you can build a fairly hefty portfolio with your beginning 25,000. But who to buy? That's where the other pages on the site come in handy.
On the artist page on which you just bought shares you'll see a list of other people who like that band. Click a few names and take a look at their profiles. If you find you have a lot of favorite music in common, click the follow button above their activity stream so that you can see what they buy and sell. And when you see musicians in whom they've invested, have a listen to see whether you like them, as well. Or you can just click the "Artists" radio button at the top and get a page where you can select "All" musicians or "Recommendations".
The trick is that you can't listen to music on Tastemaker X. For that you need sites like Grooveshark or Spotify, where you can listen to full tracks from artists new to you for free. Some of the folks you'll find there are, however, too obscure even for those wide-ranging sites. Luckily, you can find many indie and unsigned groups at Bandcamp and SoundCloud. With the exception of Spotify, these sites don't require you to have an account to listen!
Putting the Indie in Independent Artists!
Many bands go it on their own these days and the only way to find them is to live nearby or to use sites like Tastemaker X to learn about them. The following albums all come from artists I found using the social aspects of the site to actively search out new music. If you've been turned on to a great new musician through the site I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Earn Points by Liking Artists and Trades
Once you've got your account set up and traded notes for shares in your favorite bands, you can start climbing the TastemakerX influence chart by interacting on a deeper level. Go back to those artists and click the little heart at the top of the page to "like" them. Add a comment sharing your favorite song or just a rave about how awesome the band is. Click the trades of other users and give them "props" for their great taste!
Every action like that boosts your TScore. The higher your score the closer to the top of the players page you'll appear. Of course, the more visible you are on TasetmakerX the more people will see your trades and other activity. They'll give you props, too, and check out the musicians in whom you've invested. When they buy shares as well the value of your portfolio goes up as well!