The Cloud – It’s a Reverbnation and We’re All Just Livin’ in it (pt. 3)

Even from "way down on the farm," The Carolina Chocolate Drops can access The Cloud through reverbnation.

In my seemingly never-ending search for information about how new media is used by musicians, I run up against a few barriers;  for instance, emails to new media companies go unanswered.  But the corporate cold-shoulder aside, my biggest hurdle is the size of The Cloud.  Everyday I discover different bands using an array of online tools to embed their music to a blog or to post gig announcements in some form of social media.  So, without admitting I’m overwhelmed, I’ll just say that I will try to give as much attention to each online service that I can.  Today I will start with a big one: reverbnation.com

Created in 2006, reverbnation.com claims to have “the best tools for musicians and the best music for everyone else.”  With nearly 2 million artists using their service, they certainly claim a large chunk of music real estate in The Cloud.  From reverbnation’s about page:

ReverbNation.com is the leading online music-marketing platform used by over 1,995,000 artists — plus managers, record labels, and venues — to grow their reach, influence, and business across the internet. ReverbNation.com provides free and affordable solutions to individual artists and the music industry professionals that support them in the areas of web promotion, fan-relationship management, digital distribution, social-media marketing, direct-to-fan e-commerce, fan-behavior measurement, sentiment tracking, web-site hosting, and concert booking and promotion

Quite a lot there, I know, but reverbnation is a monster when it comes to building relationships with fans, labels, venues and producers.  More than 100,000 artists use their free FanReach emailing service which allows musicians to directly connect with fans.  For a premium upgrade, artists can have access to FanReachPro which is for bands who are trying to grow their fan base, book gigs, and earn money from selling merchandise and music.

In the true spirit of the “freemium” service, rudimentary tools get bands started with a profile, which allows them to access to music players and widgets and a multitude of other services. If bands want upgrade to the paid service they can access tools to customize their e-newsletters and press kits and get more detailed stats regarding their fan activity.

Reverbnation’s GigFinder service helps artists find venues that showcase bands similar in genre to their music.  It also allows users to search in a specific geography which is extremely helpful when booking tour dates.  With over 100,000 venue listings around the world, bands can extend their reach for gigs beyond their own backyard.

I didn’t intend for this entry to be a reverbnation commercial, but I have to admit that the sheer breadth and depth of their services for musicians is staggering.  It is an excellent alternative for bands that don’t have the time and resources to build and maintain their own website. For more about what they have to offer check out reverbnation’s Artist Features Page.

To see an example of reverbnation in action, check out The Carolina Chocolate Drops page

Next time, you guessed it, MORE CLOUD!

 

Advertisements

Buying In to Sell Out

For bands, making money from music alone is not enough. Sometimes it's all about the merch. (Photos from Kings Road Merch and Indiemerch.)

Taking more notes from Mr. PJ Bond who, as of this writing, is playing his music around the United Kingdom, a musician can not live on music alone.  A lot of the money generated for independent bands and musicians doesn’t come from the sale of their music, but from their merchandise.  Getting from one show to the next means keeping a tight rein on expenses and shilling t-shirts, stickers and posters out of a well-worn suitcase after the show.

Although selling merchandise face-to-face is the most efficient way to turn money into food or gas, it’s impossible for one person or band group to manage a “merch booth” while performing.  Keeping an eye out to make sure money and inventory doesn’t disappear can be handled by a manager but most bands and musicians barely make enough money to keep the tires from falling off the tour van so musicians turn to the internet for solutions.  While a dedicated website is a great way to get information to fans, it can be cumbersome when it comes to selling merchandise.  Also, “official” band merchandise is difficult to keep “official”, in that more popular bands have their name and image re-sold “unofficially” through sites that have no link with the bands, therefore the bands do not receive compensation for money generated on their name.

Online retailers are numerous but some specialize in catering to musicians and bands specifically.  In an effort to find out which merch retailers are used  I have subscribed to some independent bands whose music I like.  Metal/Punk band Valient Thorr uses indiemerch.com. From their website:Indiemerchndising prides itself on relationships and quality… with the industry’s most advanced manufacturing capabilities and distribution services.”  The site is subdivided into the indiemerchstore section which allows a band to sell their merchandise through a web-based secure interface (indiemechstore.com)and another section specializes in manufacturing the merchandise whether its t-shirts, pants or hats (indiemerchandising.com ).

Indiemerch.com also offers a value add service by allowing bands to customize the look of their site in order to brand their retail page alongside their merchandise.  From the band-specific page a band can place links to their official website, latest blog updates, and the site automatically lists the best sellers.  Here’s a look at Valient Thorr’s indiemerch page.

A more popular indy band, Social Distortion, uses Kings Road Merchwhich offers similar services but has a larger distribution network throughout the world. (Social Distortion’s kings road merch page.)  King’s Road Merch offers merchandise production, tour supply, design, online stores, and retail distribution but doesn’t allow the same page customization as indiemerch.

There are countless merchandise sites that perform similar services but may not cater specifically to musicians such as: grindstore.com; zazzle.com; cafepress.com; rockabilia.com; scrappyapparel.com; bandwagonmerch.com; bandwear.com

Still there’s many other sites that cater to musicians merch needs and if you know of any that need adding to this post or to my research please send it along.