I think it’s safe to say that Facebook has become pretty integral for any musician who uses social media to connect with fans all around the world. Despite the range of social media options, the center of my band Spanish Prisoners‘ online activity is our Facebook Page, even if we are just posting pictures of adorable puppies in sweaters or infant drummer videos. So when Facebook announced this week that the “Timeline” feature is now going to be implemented on the Pages of musicians everywhere, you can imagine that many people were slightly annoyed.
At first glance, what makes the Timeline feature so disruptive to many musicians is the de-emphasis of third-party apps that have become such a big part of the Facebook music Page. Before the changeover, we used apps from Fanbridge, Bandcamp and Songkick to prominently display music, tour dates and video links on the landing page of our band profile. Now, these third-party apps are hidden behind panels that obscure their wealth of content. Many saw this focus on the Timeline feed in lieu of apps as a way for Facebook to take back control of Pages from users, and it’s hard not to see it as some sort of power move.
Whether that is the case or not, there actually are a few advantages to the Timeline feature that aren’t immediately obvious. Having now spent 24 hours with the Timeline up on our Page, I’ve realized one of the most important advantages is the ability to “pin” an important post to the top of your Page. This prevents you from having to repost show reminders every day for a week. Timeline also lets you selectively curate your own past by highlighting events from your Wall to make them stretch out over the whole width of the Page, making them more visible to fans. And there is, of course, the ability to have a large cover image at the top, although Facebook is currently placing limitations on what sorts of images are allowed (promotional images, for examples, are prohibited).
Still, it’s hard not to get grumpy about the amount of time Facebook makes you invest in constantly changing your band’s online strategy to fit within its mold. I personally find the two-column approach Timeline takes to be disorienting, and I’d like to see it evolve away from the Timeline features of the personal page and cater specifically to what musicians need to best connect with their fans. It would be great if the format actually impelled people to listen to your music. Isn’t that the point of all of this anyway?