This in-depth popX blog piece on .FM domains continues our exploration of alternative domain extensions. It looks into what .FM domains actually are and how FM domain names are being used by savvy branders.
What are .FM domains?
Each .FM domain is built on the repurposed Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD). As with other popular ccTLDs from micronations, like .IO (Indian Ocean Territory) and .VC (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), the .FM domain treads far beyond its original stomping ground (Federated States of Micronesia). The vast majority of .FM domains being registered for the neat branding tool they present to marketers.
ccTLDs are for some a little strange at first to conceptualize, .FM domains operate on what is after all the assigned internet code of a real country. Useful to note in thie regard, then, that just like .IO, etc., all .FM domains are managed by a private firm not located in the country itself, and operating the registry purely for commercial rather than representative ends. So, there’s little systemic risk in that regard, or additional admin, restrictions, or presence requirements when registering an .FM domain.
Why choose an .FM domain?
Once you get past the origins of this format, you really don’t ever see the extension in terms of a national country code. But instead just as two short fun letters to stick on the end of your keyword. The consuming public is well used to these extensions now, too. Savvy actors have been branding on them for over 20 years now (with early movers like .ME and .CO gradually being overtaken by today’s strong ccTLD alternative domain extensions).
And, if done correctly, an .FM domain can really help you stand out, instantly signalling intent ultra-clearly and positioning your brand as different. After all, that’s why repurposed country codes are even a thing..
Astute players choose to build on an .FM domain because it allows for very targeted messaging from the outset. This is because, like its .TV counterpart, .FM domains intrinsically revolve around a clear and natural use case, which can be used by the savvy brand builder to anchor their brand.
.FM is hot among radio stations, podcasters and various niches in and around the music industry, such as event guides, promotion, ticketing, merch, recording, etc. There are naturally a plethora of stations operating on an .FM domain, but it’s insightful to take a look at what else is going on with this ccTLD..
Who is using .FM domains?
Users of FM domains like Dice.fm are seminal examples of astute music industry adoption — in this case, an exchange platform built for ticket reselling on the secondary market. Or Squadcast.fm, an in-browser cloud-based studio, and Player.fm, an organizational tool for podcasters. Meanwhile .FM domains like Transistor.fm and Setlist.fm focus on providing backend podcast analytics. Firms engaged in music marketing also frequently deploy on an .FM domain, as is the case of Feature.fm.
The playful arena of .FM domains is prime sandbox ground for innovative projects even only loosely related to music in some way. Tastebuds.fm hosts a dating website for music fans. An interesting avenue to explore. And, indeed, something in the lucrative dating or connection-making niches would be a well-aligned use case for the popX brand Love.fm, presented in the current rotation of popX domains.
FM Domain Names Boost Cred
Dangling the musical messaging onto the end of your brand is a neat way to boost brand equity, in an industry where earning, maintaining, and constantly reasserting cred and cool are central to success.
So, there is also a lot of adoption in the .FM extension via redirects. Some examples of this are the music streaming platform Deezer uses the hack DZR.fm and pioneering Canadian rapper Dax is redirecting his youtube offering via Dax.fm.
Which, in the former, adds a fun edge to the brand offering, and a pathway towards potential further usage in the future, while helping to lock down the branding space a little tighter. The latter also makes a lot of sense as despite some breakout tunes, Dax is still fairly under the radar and the nicheness of the .FM extension matches well with his distinctly different approach (a career driven by Tupac ‘ape’ raps and one-take tracks that progressively double in length — waiting on Rap God 3.0 aka 40m, D.!).
.FM for Brand Defense and Traffic
There has also been an intriguing recent trend for bigger players outside of music, broadcasting, etc. to deploy an .FM domain via a redirect. This is taking the form of brand defensive moves like Booking.fm redirecting to the Booking.com homepage or Python.fm forwarding to Python.org, and other traffic/clout/domain hack-geared plays like the fun concept project Poolsuite.net using Poolside.fm.
We’re also seeing major players use .FM domains to take a step towards owning the music/broadcasting side of huge keywords not directly part of the targeting brand. For example, Bloomberg has taken Business.fm off the market. Not an unwise move, considering that such keywords are so massive that the trickledown on even just the music/broadcasting aspect of it is not insignificant.
Plus, at this point on its adoption journey, acquiring an .FM domain of this quality is still possible. And represents good use of of capital, as your outlay is marginal in the grand scheme, and the potential upside of what you stand to gain not limited.
The Broader Appeal of .FM domains
In a world of so many playful plays, hot new extensions and creative domain hacks, there is a lot to be said for the straightforward approach, as it can be refreshing to the user. While injecting into the brand just enough freshness for it be fresh, something you note first time out, find kinda cool and then need not think too much about it ever again.
Off the-label use is also continuing to grow, with startups like the ask.fm app, a global social network built on a Q&A format, finding useful messaging in deploying on .FM. Clarity.fm, an Expert advice center for startups, is also operating in this vein, running their offering as Clarity For Me. Indeed, Clarity Experts have fielded some useful questions on why they felt Clarity elected to brand on an .FM domain.
.FM Domain Adoption
Seeing such non-music related projects onboard .FM bodes well for its future. As it means that nondescript spillover is already occurring. This is important, as it can be tricky for an emerging extension to gain clout at first, as there’s a familiarization period — and if people are good at anything, it’s not changing until they fear being left behind.
During this early stage of adoption, much of the value of the extension tends to have a more direct link to the quality and standing of the individual projects already operating on the extension — and the industry/financial clout and vision of those behind them. The path towards critical mass must necessarily pass through this segment.
Sustaining the Growth of .FM Domains
It is said that nobody wants to be first and nobody wants to be last. So there are a greater number of less self-assured and/or more constrained marketers watching from the sidelines during earlier phases of adoption. While their progressive counterparts make their move, and reap disproportionate comparative advantage — precisely of the indecision of others.
The clear initial use case of .FM, has meant that the base for wider adoption has already been put it. The eyes of users already in the know are accustomed to the extension and wider use case spillover is consistently occurring.
So, .FM can already be said to have carved out its own niche and range, regardless of whether the floodgates do open and the extension starts recording sales seen in hot commodities like .XYZ and .IO (the highest publicly recorded sale price for an .FM domain currently stands in the low five figures).
Potential downside of using an .FM domain
The one potential downside of using an .FM domain as your brand would be that technically it is still the country code for the Federate States of Micronesia. This may mean that users whom have not been exposed to .FM domains may not at first get the (fun, musical) connotation.
But this is the nature of the beast, and the price to be pay for the targeted scope and playful messaging of this extension. The question therefore is one that should be answered before you position your brand via an .FM domain.
As an unestablished brand setting out, are you happy to receive targeted traffic from a younger, likely more innovation-attuned demographic? At the expense of potentially less footfall traffic from the broader spectrum of internet users?
This is also a question that should be answered early on in your search for the perfect domain name. And one based on reflection of the results achieved by those brands who have already travelled this path. We suspect that .FM may be a little confusing at first for users who spend their time mostly on legacy extensions domains.
But we know that choosing an .FM domain can help you capture users that know the score.
The .FM PowerPitch
Dot FM is savvy yet cute, expansive yet targeted, capable of helping you quickly win a young, hip user base and gain clout — while saving you a hugely disproportionate amount of marketing budget compared to the current cost of acquisition.
Considering .FM for your brand?
Check out our resource materials on ccTLDs and series of articles on another high-flying county code — dot IO. These and other timely articles can be read on the popX blog, a space where team members provide ultra-detailed advice on leveraging the power of a killer domain for exponential gain.
Already decided you need an .io brand domain?
Visit the .MIX section for the latest domains selected from the popX portfolio. Or contact us directly — perhaps the ideal .FM domain is already ready for you.