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:
- As a direct link that shows your store items.
- You can embed the store in your own site (using an iframe, so make sure your platform supports this — most will).
- 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.)
- 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.
- The store is a component of the RN FaceBook Page App if you choose to install that on your Facebook Page.
- 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.