I view the vast expanse of the internet as a giant toolbox, and there are tons of effective “e-tools” out there to help you communicate, interact, and build your online presence. From time to time I want to introduce some of those tools as they make sense for the indie artist.

ShoutMix PreviewEnter ShoutMix. I’ve been working with an independent artist recently and in the development of his new website we want to make it possible to post previews of new songs as he’s working on them in the studio, and then allow fans to comment and provide feedback on those previews. I suppose typically you would post an MP3 of a song, require fans to download it, and then if you wanted feedback just list a line and your email address soliciting comments. I suppose a few people would write in, but it sounds like a lot of steps… follow through would be minimal.

I wanted to find a comment tool that fulfilled four key things:

  1. Allows fans to post comments for the world to see directly in the webpage you are listening to the song on;
  2. Allow you to post the tool on multiple webpages with the same comment thread live and active on each one;
  3. Must be free;
  4. Must look slick, have no ads, and work bug-free

OK, I guess that’s six things… but ShoutMix does / is all of these things. To explain #2 a little more… say you’ve got your song preview on your website and your myspace page – I want people to comment on the songs in both places, but I also want the people on my website to see the comments being left through myspace, and vice-versa. It’s real-time interaction across multiple sites.

There are several different implementation options through ShoutMix. On your regular website (where you control 100% of the content), you can implement the tool as an IFRAME. MySpace and other social networking sites don’t allow IFRAMES, so they also offer a Flash based embed option. For the very tightly controlled sites that don’t allow IFRAMES or Flash (like this blog), you can simply link off to your Shoutbox like this.

All in all, this is a pretty cool feature and would come in handy for a lot of bands looking for some immediate and integrated feedback from their fans. How are the rest of you getting fan feedback? I would love to hear of some of the tools everyone else is using!

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