Be sure to check out my updated and complete review of ReverbNation.

Let me put that another way: this page/review is old and has not been validated since 2012. The review you want to read is here.

This is another in my series of reviews of tools/services for independent musicians to perform digital direct sales of songs. I asked for input from other musicians and got it on this blog, on Twitter and in person. In previous reviews, I’ve covered CreateSpace and TuneCore/SmashSongs/RootMusic. I’m looking for your ongoing, honest responses to these services and my particular take on them. Please feel free to comment below. Now, on with this review…

There’s something really attractive about the idea that the independent musician could go to one place, have a great control panel (or ControlRoom in this case), and do all the configuring, marketing and sales without having to integrate a bunch of other tools as well. This is what ReverbNation (RN) tries to do. How well have they done? In any case, you should go to the ReverbNation web site and check out all the options. RN offers everything from email lists and web hosting to a jukebox and storefront.

There are such a myriad of options, apps and services at ReverbNation, that I almost hesitate to mention any of them. In fact, I think overwhelm is one of the biggest down-sides of their approach: there may be something for everyone, but at what cost? The ControlRoom interface is case in point. It’s often difficult to find the specific tool or feature I’m looking for. I find the artist and fan interface to be cluttered. While I understand that part of this is the shear number of tools available, I would recommend a more tiered approach where the artist (and fan) can go deeper into a more limited number of grouped features rather than trying to have so many of them present on the initial page. There are 14 categories in the web version of the artist Control Room. It would be interesting to know how many musicians use all fourteen.

The other thing that becomes complex quickly on RN are their fees. As an example, check out the digital distribution FAQ page that includes royalties and fees. Fortunately, the direct song (and CD) sales are simple enough. Right now, CD On Demand (COD) costs (the amount that goes to RN) is $5.49 and direct digital song downloads are $.30. In other words, if I create a COD that is $12.99, I’ll get $7.50 after the ReverbNation fee. On a $.99 song, I’ll get $.69. Fees are subject to change, so be sure to find out what they are currently on the ReverbNation web site.

The RN store has some nice features. In addition to the COD, you can also create merchandise on demand that includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, mugs, drink bottles and possibly more. Upload your artwork, set up the design, and the item is created when someone orders it. Nice!

You can send listeners (buyers!) to the store in six ways:

  1. As a direct link that shows your store items.
  2. You can embed the store in your own site (using an iframe, so make sure your platform supports this — most will).
  3. As a widget that supports several Social Media and blogging platforms. (The WordPress widget is missing from the ReverbNation site, but is available via the WordPress plug-in dashboard.)
  4. As an individual store item “buy” button. This is great if you want to build your own store on your web site and just let buyers click through to the RN store.
  5. The store is a component of the RN FaceBook Page App if you choose to install that on your Facebook Page.
  6. As a separate tool for your FaceBook Page (for use without the RN App installed).

In spite of all of these features, the feedback I got from other independent musicians was almost universally that ReverbNation is only one of several tools that they use. Me? Yes, I’ll be using ReverbNation, but alongside other services. So, what are we using as primary digital distribution and direct sales tools? Keep coming back to this blog and you’ll find out.

I’m interested to know — as either an artist or a listener — what do you think of ReverbNation? Does the layout work for you? Please leave your comment below.

Playful blessings,
Stan

A review of the ability of indie musicians to sell digital songs through ReverbNation -- which is not solely focused on this service.
ReverbNation digital direct sales
Date Published: 03/01/2012
This review of ReverbNation is rather reserved since RN has a very broad focus and this series of reviews is focused solely on direct sales of digital downloads.
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73 Responses to review of ReverbNation

  1. Tracy says:

    Hi Stan, nice review and I agree with you about ReverbNation ~ too much stuff, and there is a learning curve to figuring it all out. Of course there is a learning curve with anything, but your point is well taken – they could benefit by streamlining the widgets and fan interaction segments to focus on only the ones with the greatest value to indie musicians. It seems they have everything under the sun, just so they can say they have it ALL.
    My biggest complaint is that while they offer the ability to have your own “buy” link on individual songs, they want to force you into using their store. The store box on our profile is empty, yet I can’t seem to get rid of it on the profile. So if people only click on the store, not on my buy links, it looks like I have nothing for sale. My point is if I already have a site, and a store on CDBaby, why can’t I just embed that on ReverbNation? It seems they are forcing me to set up their store in addition to the one I have at CDBaby… I don’t know if I want to take the time to do that. mmmm still figuring it out.
    Thanks for great blog, great interaction on Twitter, you rule.
    Trace

    • muz4now says:

      Trace,
      I really appreciate your insight regarding the ReverbNation store and lack of ability to embed other “buy” buttons. Excellent information that other indies need to know before they commit to one platform.

      Kudos on your great blog and best wishes with your new release from Trace Relations band!

      CDBaby review coming soon…
      Playful blessings,
      Stan

    • Aaron says:

      You actually can put in your own “buy” link, and it’ll replace the store one if you don’t want to use their store.

  2. Mike Vavrek says:

    Stan, I am in harmony with you as well as Trace. I lack a lot of pc skills, and certainly see a downside to the amount of options in the control room panel. Reverbnation does have some incredible resources, some which I’ve been very blessed to have really benefitted from(ie- the submissions to various opportunities, links sent to select artists, etc..) but, when it comes down to communication with artists, or fans- its a bit sensory overload. The fan reach pro- nice idea- may be very valuable tool, but I personally use google analytics. Among the reasons: $! Not very many artists have the money to pay for all the nuances that the site offers, but you feel your missing out on important info if you don’t subscribe!!
    I’ve wrangled with reverbnation, had the press kits, pro packages- etc.. and found that these resources are readily available (albeit not all in one place) throughout the web.
    My main site is hosted by bandzoogle through Reverbnation, I haven’t used the store much, but to do like that you can upload new songs, YouTube videos, what have you, and get feedback.
    The opportunities are really cool, had some success with them, but again, to many peripheral things to purchase in order to do so.
    It’s a good place to use, it’s got many valuable resources and industry interest(they DO pay attention to your charts!) but, as we seem to agree, to jumbled. Apologize for perhaps being sporadic or unclear- just wrote what came to mind immediately.
    (::)PEACE(::)
    Mike V

    • muz4now says:

      Mike,

      Thanks for your continued input! Thanks for the bandzoogle note. Heard about that one from another artist recently, so I’ll have to check it out. Unfortunately, it won’t be in this round of reviews (but maybe there will have to be a round two!).

      Best wishes with your Buttons and Threads release!

      Playful blessings,
      Stan

  3. [...] in the comments!); two that try to provide lots more than just digital direct sales and either barely deliver or do a good job; and one new service that I really like which allows for song sales while [...]

  4. Jingles says:

    Guys, i’m just getting started with an indie label. Do you find that you’re getting visibility with RN? I see some guys on there with only 12 song plays and wonder if it’s an issue of poor music or is it all about plugging your links. The bottomline for me is that i want to get new gigs for my artists and sell downloads. Are you finding success with that on RN?

    • muz4now says:

      I don’t know that I’d see ReverbNation as the way to get visibility. I’d see it as a way of connecting with fans once you’ve gotten the visibility. That’s a whole subject itself — too much for a comment. Suffice it to say, I’d use live gigs, Social Media, etc. to connect initially. Then, point people to whichever distributions you choose. By now, you know that my preference for direct sales is VibeDeck and I like CD Baby for digital distribution (iTunes, Amazon, etc.).

      Let us know what your experience is.

      Playful blessings,
      Stan

  5. Crafton says:

    One observation I would like to make is that, RN does an interesting thing for VENUES that you don’t see anywhere else yet. And that is, if the artist playing your venue HAS a RN profile, it will display their AVATAR and featured song ON the calender, without the venue even needing to ADD them, that is, if they post he gig, RN will seek out the Venue account and if enabled it will add the show instantly to said Venues calender. So , suppose the venue EMBEDS their calender on their website. People, without even needing to GO over to RN , can just see who’s playing , when, and quickly sample them to see if they want to go to that type of music…I like that. But I also agree the overly complex interface is limiting in it’s scope. Seems built more to IMPRESS and less to FUNCTION. But in the end it does….so….anyway, VENUE accounts rock. But only if the acts have a RN account, otherwise it’s a default avatar with no sample of course.

    • muz4now says:

      Hey, Crafton,

      If I understand what you’re saying: if you purchase the Venues option on ReverbNation and the venue also uses Venues, your avatar will pop up on the venue’s calendar. Did I get that right?
      If so, that is cool. As I understand it, FanBridge has a similar feature, but again, both the indie musician/band and the venue must be using compatible software. Too bad there isn’t an open standard for fan calendars so that any artist calendar could feed any venue (or maybe even visa versa). For example, iCal was a valiant attempt to create such a standard. It just hasn’t been widely enough adopted.

      Speaking of who rocks: your guy, Eric Gales, sounds great.

      Keep rockin’,
      Stan

  6. Henry Wallace III says:

    Hey muz4now, just stumbled on this blog. Thanks for your insights! I’ll be reading your reviews of the other companies, too. Haven’t delved into the nooks and crannies of ReverbNation yet.
    There’s so much to learn about the digital music business world. The sheer volume of necessary tasks and setups is overwhelming, such as getting songs technically ready, dealing with UPC and ISRC codes, finding ways to promote a drop or two of music into the ocean of other musicians’ drops, and all the other technological concerns.
    Right now I’ve got a couple of CDs on bandcamp and have a nonfunctioning website. I keep finding out more and more details that call for attention. Thanks for clearing up some of my confusion.

  7. [...] has been popularized by services like ReverbNation, musicians can create a number of items on-demand that can be put up for sale on the web or at [...]

  8. Great review. I’ve been using RN for some time. I like the concept and ideas behind it. We us the Digital RPK and and the Facebook apps and some of the widgets are also on our website such as show dates etc….

    My biggest problem with RN is that 90% of our “fans” are just other musicians with RN profiles or other musicians from Myspace (which by all accounts is dead).

    I enjoy discovering new music and sharing with fellow musicians but I don’t think this was the point of creating a RN account.

    I would be interested in other services that connect musicians with non musician fans. We use twitter, Youtube, Facebook, myspace, our own website and RN so far.

    Just my two cents.

    • muz4now says:

      Excellent point! There are a few services that have tried to be just what you mention, but I haven’t seen any of them really take off in the indie camp. (For example, http://rateyourmusic.com/ is really only working for big name bands and acts.) If you find a good service like that, let me know!

      I agree about RN now that I’ve been there a while: it’s just indie artists “fanning” each other which will only get us so far. On the other hand, RN does have a plethora of tools that can help get the word out. Just not sure that they’re always best-of-breed. So far, I’m still picking and choosing with many different services.

      It looks like your site is a RN-based one, so it seems like you’ve benefitted from their tools. Have you had to shift to other services for some of the stuff you need?

      Have fun making music,
      Stan

    • starla angus says:

      You need to put your music on any website that provides music traffic to send people to your links–here are some good ones–N1M numberonemusic.com, songvault.fm, last.fm

  9. Linda McRae says:

    Hi there Stan: I too stumbled across your site looking for reviews of RN and have enjoyed reading here. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    I’ve had an RN site for a few years now but don’t use it much. I use my own website, Facebook and Youtube mostly to keep in touch with fans. I’m on the road so much these days (I’ve just released a new CD) I find it difficult to keep up with everything, there are so many options.

    I have have been thinking of using the RPK though so I can submit for the performance opportunities. I’m not a fan of Sonicbids and wonder what the differences are. I am forced to use Sonicbids because most of the festivals I apply for use them for their submissions. RN’s service seems to be a pretty good one from what what I’ve read so far. Just wondering if anyone has had much luck with it.

    I also use Onlinegigs.com and find it really useful. It keeps track of advancing shows, tour books, contracts, and has an automatic press release, newsletter and tour date widgets I can put on my sites. I used to be able to post my tour dates from this site to all my others but now Sonicbids and RN are in competition and don’t allow them anymore so it takes a bit more work to enter my show info.

    I use Hostbaby for my website and newsletter. Their newsletter function is great and has allows at least 10,000 fans at no extra cost, something that RN charges for after a certain point. They also have a good store feature and is really easy to use. I find it’s a good service. I also use CD Baby and all it’s subsidiaries too.

    I think also that Barrelhouse Poet has a great point and you addressed it also. That’s exactly why I use Facebook, etc. to connect with fans, it seems the RN folks are pretty much all other artists which is great too, but I’m hoping to reach people who are seeking out music to listen to, attend shows and hopefully buy music.

    Thanks for a great blog!

    Cheers
    Linda McRae

    • muz4now says:

      Thanks, Linda! Serious best wishes on your CD tour!

      I’ll definitely check out onlinegigs.com. Sounds interesting. Sad to hear that the other services won’t cooperate with their data any more.

      Glad to see that RN and other services are working for you. I don’t personally know anyone using the RPK. However, seems like the RPK may not be the perfect solution if you have to keep SonicBids due to their connections with the venues you use. Let me know if you go for the RPK and — if you do — how it works for you.

      Also seems like you keep a good fan connection. That’s awesome! I’m sure you know to use FaceBook with care since nothing there is “yours” (e.g., your fan list). As I read their statement of service, they own everything you put on FaceBook.

      Again, have a great tour!

      playful blessings,
      Stan

  10. DKate says:

    Just wanted to provide an alternative to RN. Backstage Vibe launched just shy of a month ago but offers so much more for so much less than RN. Think of a blend of RN, iTunes, and FB and you’ve got Backstage Vibe. I don’t want to sound too salesy (and yes, full disclosure, I work on the development and marketing teams), but… Backstage Vibe offers a personal profile, music uploads with artist and album/song pages, collaboration through video chat and member groups that allow sharing of any file type, an individual store on your profile for merchandise & digital downloads that feeds into the larger public store, a community Vibe, fee-free sales beyond the Paypal payment processing fees, monthly and annual membership subscription options, list events, sell event tickets, raise money for a cause, instant chat, post your news to the Backstage Vibe music news page viewable by the public, banner ads, share videos, share music, link your FB and Twitter accounts to your Backstage Vibe account for one-stop updating, import SoundCloud files…And those are just the highlights :) And Backstage Vibe will be included in the Official Grammy’s 55th Annual Souvenir Book — which automatically gives our artists more visibility! Check us out at http://www.backstagevibe.com and please contact me if you have questions or comments. Backstage Vibe was built to propel talented artists into the spotlight and we take that mission very seriously. We are a dedicated group of folks who are personally on the site daily interacting with our VIBERZ.
    ~~> Backstage Vibe screenname: DKate; email: mel@backstagevibe.com

    • muz4now says:

      Looks like you’ve attracted quite a few sign ups. Congrats. Since you don’t provide any musician/artist services to the free accounts, it’s not possible for me to assess your system without purchasing a monthly subscription.

      It will be interesting to read some reviews of your site once some musicians have had a chance to assess your services. Let me know if there are any reviews already out there.

      Best wishes,
      Stan

      • DKate says:

        Hi Stan,

        I just sent you a message through BSV mail. We’re upgrading artists to a 6-month FREE Platinum membership right now to try things out and get their VIBE on. I’ll let you know when your upgrade is complete. Should be a little later today :)

        Vibe On!

        DKate

        • DKate says:

          BTW…when you are logged into Backstage Vibe, go to Profile, Apps, Add Apps, and you’ll see the cool features we’ve got for you!

          • DKate says:

            Your upgrade is complete and waiting for you! We give upgrades because we’re confident that after trying out our services, you won’t want to leave :) Take us for a test drive and see what you think.

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