ILike launches music concert promotion ads, targeting social network users

ILike, the music fan site that has gained millions of new users through applications on Facebook and other social networks, is releasing a new form of ads that enable concert promoters to reach fans based on location and musical tastes.

The Seattle company has already offered ways for bands to display concert dates within its applications, but these ads (sample above) are more advanced. They appear in banner-ad positions on Facebook “canvas” pages for third party applications, and include features to help spread the word about the concert. There’s a link that a user can click on to tell friends about the event, or find other local fans of the performing band who plan to attend. Users can also click on the link to buy tickets.

An advertiser can set the time frame in which they want the ads to run, similar to Google’s AdWords, and get data about the total number of people who saw the ad, how many people interacted with it, and how many people clicked on the link to buy tickets. Advertisers are charged based on the number of impressions the ads receive.

This is the latest act by iLike to connect the music business with fans, and make money for everybody — except for traditional media competitors. Concert promoting has historically relied on finding fans through methods like printed fliers, email lists and radio ads, so this is a new way for any promoter to reach social network users — typically teens or 20-somethings who might not otherwise hear about a concert.

Through a partnership with Rhapsody, iLike has also recently started letting users listen to the full recordings of songs within its applications. Previously, users could only listen to 30-second clips. After you’ve heard 25 songs, you get asked to sign up for Rhapsody, or get reverted to the truncated clips. Rhapsody covers the royalties due record labels for the service. The songs include affiliate links to iTunes and Amazon, so iLike and Rhapsody can earn revenue from any referrals. These streaming tracks are already available on iLike.com and will shortly be introduced to its applications.

The new ads also include songs that Rhapsody doesn’t have, such as those uploaded to iLike by an unsigned indie band that has fans on iLike’s applications. The company is separately introducing ways for other developers to integrate songs from its service into their own applications, although this feature is not live yet.

ILike has a total of 30 million registered users, up to 20 million of which are active every month, the company says. Users of its Facebook applications make up around 40 percent of its total users — iLike was one of the companies that managed to grow big, fast through its Facebook applications, when the Facebook application developer platform launched a year ago. The company has more recently launched applications on rival social networks hi5, Bebo and Orkut. The company’s applications on those sites are also seeing big growth, iLike cofounder Ali Partovi tells me; he says the company hasn’t focused on MySpace and its new platform, however, because MySpace has its own music service, and rivals like imeem and Project Playlist have had simple, popular music-sharing widgets on the site for years.

While it doesn’t rule out focusing on MySpace in the future, the company doesn’t seem to need to do so. It has already been proving itself to the music industry, recently streaming entire new albums for bands like R.E.M. and Lady Antebellum, helping those bands to sell more albums and fill more concert seats.