Bebo brings ‘battle of the bands’ to MySpace


28 Jul 2006

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Social networking site Bebo.com has gone for the jugular of social networking rival MySpace.com with a new service to help launch bands.

Bebo.com, whose executive team includes venture capitalist Barry Maloney and online child safety expert Rachel O’Connell, has seen more than 25,000 bands and artists sign up in less than two weeks.

Bebo.com is one of the fastest-growing sites on the internet with a total of 24 million registered members turning more than 2.5 billion monthly page views. Aimed at school and university students and their respective alumni between the ages of 13 and 33, the site has been growing in popularity and notoriety in equal measures.

Former Esat Digifone boss Barry Maloney joined the board following an investment of US$15m by Benchmark Capital in the company. O’Connell, an advisor to the UK government and police forces on child safety online issues, was appointed in recent months.

Introducing what it describes as the next level of “music discovery”, the new Bebo Bands service allows groups and artists to upload unlimited music and content, including albums and video, contrasting with rivals who allow only four tracks at a time.

Each band homepage allows Bebo members to interact and find out about the people behind the band. Users can also compile an unlimited number of “playlists” of up to 20 tracks that they can share with friends.

“Music is going to be a big part of the Beboer experience,” commented Michael Birch, Bebo.com’s CEO and founder. “We took our time to launch Bebo Bands to enable us to develop the best available product on the market.

“We have designed it so that users can share music content and help spread the word about the bands they like, thus putting them at the forefront of music discovery. Bebo is the perfect platform for this and we intend to evolve Bebo Bands to ensure that genuine talent will always rise to the top,” said Birch.

The social networking site has also created agreements with a number of the major record labels and independents to provide Beboers with a constant flow of unique music content and other features that will include Bebo “playlist charts”.

The most copied playlists will automatically come to the fore, enabling Beboers who are discovering music, as well as those creating it, to be profiled. These “Bebo DJs” are being positioned as the influencers who will help steer other Beboers to music and live local performances. Content such as music videos will also propagate naturally amongst the 25 million Beboers, the company said.

The Thieves is one of the first bands to register on Bebo and Hal Stokes, guitar and lead vocalist, has been impressed: “We had been using other social networking sites to raise our profile but a lot of our mates in England were on Bebo so we signed up.

“Bebo gives you more options: you can post more photos and organise them into multiple sections such as ‘touring’ or ‘recording’; you can also upload more songs and organise them into albums, which is great for us,” Stokes said.

By John Kennedy