Since social media is now an integral part of the entertainment business, services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have become key to a musician's success. Kanye West released his latest album at the end of last year: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Both leading up to the release (with music leaks and controversial tweets) and after (further mouthy tweets and a 34-minute epic video released on YouTube and his website), West has utilized the social Web masterfully.
West's website is simple, but effective in promoting his videos and Twitter activity.
The top half of the homepage features Kanye's 34-minute mini-movie entitled Runaway. The real-time conversation around Kanye is highlighted directly below, with a short stream of tweets tagged with "runaway." Below that, there is a link to Twitter.com (surprisingly, not Kanye's own Twitter profile page) and "Join the conversation" leads to a Twitter search results page for "#runaway OR #runawaymovie".
The words "GOOD FRIDAYS" leads to a collection of free music downloads, although you need to enter your email address to get the music.
At the bottom of the page is a screenshot of the album, with links to buy it on iTunes.
Meanwhile over on Facebook, the best part of Kanye West's page is an app called BandPage. BandPage provides a playlist of Kanye songs and videos, similar to what MySpace has done for years but which Facebook never emulated. When we reviewed the Facebook page of Arcade Fire last August, actual music was conspicuous by its absence. So I'm pleased that Kanye's web designers found a way around that. As for how much of the man himself we see on Facebook, there's no sign of West posting there - the Wall is made up entirely of his tweets.
Speaking of MySpace, Kanye offers a well-designed presence there too. On YouTube, he has a page via Vevo - the joint venture company that includes Universal Music Group, the umbrella organization that releases West's music.
Overall, Kanye West has a well designed web presence and his own voice is clearly heard through Twitter. West is a highly opinionated and entertaining artist, so Twitter is an ideal tool for him to communicate to his fans. It's logical then that both his website and Facebook page rely heavily on Twitter content.
Finally, it's worth noting that Kanye West has taken full advantage of Internet song leaks. Songs from MBDTF were leaked to the Web throughout 2010, which created hype and much interest in the album when it was released last November. Kanye reportedly leaked some songs himself, although they were different mixes from those on the final album.
Whatever you think of Kanye's music (personally, I'm a fan), he's utilized social media smartly and to loud effect. Let us know in the comments what you think of Kanye's web presence.