History of Link Shorteners and the Music Industry

History of Link Shorteners

Before there were music retail landing pages, like the ones from Metablocks, Linkfire and Gupta’s Smarturl, there were only link shorteners. URLs play a big role on the Internet.  They are the connectors of the web.  URLs have come a long way since their inception over 20 years ago. Especially with the creation of the URL Shortener, which has come to play an important part in retaining the importance and usefulness of the URL in our ever-evolving digital landscape.  URL Shorteners have moved from simply being a tool to shorten your link, to an integral tracking tool used to refine marketing initiatives and drive brand growth, and now have lead to the creation and evolution of retail link pages. Here is where link shorteners step it!  Kevin Gilbertson, created the first URL shortener, TinyURL, in 2002. The popularity of TinyURLs quickly influenced the creation of at least 100 similar websites. As the web has developed, URLs are becoming longer, so URL Shorteners were becoming really useful, especially when it comes to music!

Link Shorteners and Music

In the music industry, as is the case with other eCommerce industries, links to products and services are LONG and sometimes meaningless. Here are some examples:

The link to Zara Larsson’s new single on Spotify looks like this:
The link makes no mention of Zara and is impossible to memorize!

This iTunes link for Mercy Me’s Lifer looks like this:
The link may be a little better, but is still ‘non-communicable’

A link for a song on Amazon, like this one for a Katy Perry song, can look as bad as this:
Hardly memorable!

Adding affiliate codes and tags to these links (like most music labels and artists do), only make the situation worse.

As a result, the need for link shorteners is painfully obvious!

Music Link Shorteners and Global Stores

Music complicates things for any given artist music store content can vary by county and region. This means for a given song there are 100’s of country-specific store links, depending on where a user is located. This problem quickly gave rise to music-specific link shorteners that quickly incorporated Geo-location to link shortening capabilities to drive music buyers to digital storefronts that served their region or country. Companies like Smarturl (Gupta Media), Flyt.it (Dash Two) and Genius Links (GeoRiot) quickly moved to provide these types of functionality for music labels who used to sell their music globally through iTunes and Amazon.

Music Link Shorteners and Retail Link Landing Pages

The growing number of music retailers and streamers has further complicated things. First, there was Apple iTunes and now there are over 100 large and smaller music providers that allow consumers to purchase and listen to their favorite tunes! This quickly created a problem for music labels like Sony Music Entertainment (SME), Universal Music Group (UMG) and Warner Music (WBR), large global music concerns who wished to drive music sales and streams in a world where music revenues were dwindling and music purchase and streaming choice were growing – step in the retail music landing page!

It started with one button (iTunes), then two buttons (iTunes and Amazon) and then three (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play).  Once Spotify launched in the United States, that quickly changed to four buttons, but after four, buttons quit making sense! Five, six and seven buttons looked so ugly that it made sense to go back to ONE! UMG Nashville was among the first companies to start promoting single buttons for music streaming and purchase options. In fact, they created their own branded buttons within UMG and pushed users to device and location sensing smart URLs.  Other labels and division saw the benefit of this approach and soon companies like Gupta Media (the company behind music link shortener smarturl.com), Linkfire and Metablocks) start providing comprehensive retail landing pages and widgets that allowed consumers to decide where they wanted to purchase or stream their music.

Retail Link Landing Pages

In 2017, retail link landing pages quickly became the standard for delivering music.  Lead by Sony Music Entertainment, the Universal Music Group, with Warner Music following, more and more album and track release began to feature or promote retail landing pages. The first recorded use of retail landing page as an actual splash or landing page (by a major music artist) was in March of 2017 when the chart-topping duo – the Chainsmokers used a Metablocks music widget as their home page for the launch of their upcoming album “Memories: Do Not Open” at http://www.2lin.cc/memories.  This marked the evolution of Smart URLs to Retail Landing Pages (RLPs) to Retail Splash Page builders!

Music Widgets – The New Splash Page

Since then a lot of other artists have followed this trend, given the capabilities of the Metablocks Widget platform that has taken retail landing pages to the next level, by adding the application and website functionality to make it a true music splash page builder!