On March 18, 2012, I posted this glowing review of VibeDeck. As you'll see if you try to click on some of the links in the original post (below), I am no longer on VibeDeck. In spite of raising millions of dollars to “keep a free platform” for indie musicians, they have gone to an all subscription-based approach starting January 23, 2013. Subscriptions initially start at $10/month though many would need the subscription that is twice that or more in order to keep their songs streaming and selling. Along with many other independent artists, I'm abandoning their platform. Without the added features (fan features, merchandise including CD's, etc.) available on other musician services, VibeDeck is no longer viable for many indies. I wish their founders and employees good luck. (The rest of this post is that original post from March, 2012 and no longer applies.)
After covering so many of the more established services — like BandCamp — and those offering so many more services — like CD Baby and ReverbNation — this may come as a bit of a surprise. So, let me try to explain.
- For now at least, VibeDeck can be free to independent musicians “on a budget”. The service takes nothing if all you do is use their site to sell your digital songs to your fans! The only paid services are add-ons (which I'll write about in a bit).
- VibeDeck integrates well with FaceBook, your own web site (or even one from one of the other services) or as a standalone site that you can send your fans to.
- It integrates (both for authentication and for song sets) with SoundCloud.
So, take the case of an independent musician who already has some songs on SoundCloud and has already created at least one set of songs at that site. S/he can go to vibedeck.com and be automatically registered (using SoundCloud) in a few seconds. Then, using either the song set from SoundCloud or new uploads to VibeDeck, s/he can offer songs to her/his fans for a fixed price, “name your price”, trade for email, FaceBook like or Twitter tweet.
Once the song or song set is created, you've added all the details you want and made it “live”, you can now either advertise the songs direct to your fans or you can use the “share to website” button to create bits of web code that you can then use on your web site or blog. As an example, if you scroll down on this page, in the right-hand column you'll see “Old Hymns for a New Age” which is the VibeDeck integration with WordPress. Listeners can hear the songs directly on my site or click the “buy and download” button to purchase the set.
Again, while all of this is very slick, none of it racks up costs for the independent musician. The add-ons that do currently (usual disclaimer that VibeDeck can change this at any time and I'm not responsible, so please check their site for current pricing) cost are:
- Custom domains. Mine is http://stanstewartmusic.com/
- 60-second previews. The default is that the fan can listen to the entire song. With previews enabled, the song fades in and out of a one minute segment.
- Pre-orders. This allows the fan to purchase before the actual time of the release of a song.
- Google Analytics. Allows for Google analytics integration.
Each of these is an annual fee. (Currently, $36/year for custom domains and 60-second previews, but subject to change since these recently went up from $12/year.) For some, these will not be necessary allowing the service to be fee-free. In my book, this is an awesome service for independent musicians trying to keep their costs minimized.
Like BandCamp, you can collect emails of your buying fans and download them as a CSV file. The statistics for your page are just a number of downloads, page views and plays (in case you don't have the Google Analytics feature enabled).
That's it for now, folks. I've made my choice and look forward to hearing about yours! Thanks again to all of the input from the many independent musicians who offered their experiences and opinions about the many options for direct sales of songs.