Some time ago, when I was looking for a way to share and sell my recorded songs, I did a brief review of ReverbNation for song sales that got some great comments. RN did not then and as you'll see, still doesn't get high marks with me.
ReverbNation looks like it could be a one-stop-shop for bands. On the surface, they provide a cross-section of indie musician tools that include mailing list management; web site integrations; social media integrations and push streams; “fan” funnel and management (but read on for the real story); gig management; song player; digital distribution to iTunes and other sales channels; charity add-ons from song sales; a storefront with plug-ins for major social networks and web sites; and licensing opportunities. Are the tools useable? Yes. Are they scalable? Probably not. Are they really geared to drive fans to the musical acts? No. They are geared to drive more musicians (and wannabe musicians) to ReverbNation.
There are at least three major flaws with ReverbNation's infrastructure as it currently stands:
- There is nothing (that I can see) to attract fans to RN. It is currently only attracting acts (musicians and spammers who also want to sell products to indies). And having a bunch of other musicians can be a nice ego boost, but you need fans who are not doing the same work as you, too. (Thus, the “I'm #1 on ReverbNation” becomes “I was able to get enough other bands to like my RN page, that I'm #1 there.”) It's great to connect with other musicians, but there are plenty of resources for this.
- Everyone who is driven to your RN page, is flooded with ads for RN. In other words, ReverbNation — not the musical act — gets more advertising every time RN gets another indie musician to set up a page and share it on social media, web sites, and so on. Using the RN tools will only slow you down from the momentum you could obtain using better tools that focus on you and your fans (even if they cost more).
- Musicians can easily get lost in the myriad of options, upgrades, tools, etc. on RN and miss out on time that could be spent focusing on music and dedicated tools for making connections to gigs and fans.
So, is the free ReverbNation okay for musicians/bands who can't afford to purchase other more costly solutions for all of these potentially helpful tools? In the end: no. Being on ReverbNation waters down any attempt to attract and keep fans. Ads, sales, etc. are all tagged with ReverbNation logos. While they may create some minimal impact, none of the ads that I've paid for at ReverbNation have ever brought someone to a gig or to purchase one of my songs. There are lots of other options for licensing and digital distribution. Use one or more of them, instead.
In theory, it sounds like a good idea to find a single vendor who can provide all the tools we need to be indie musicians. At least at ReverbNation, the implementation leaves too much to be desired. Find individual tools that do the job better and allow the focus to be on you, the music, your fans and your songs. For more reviews and musician resources, check out my biz of the muz category.
Whether you agree, disagree or somewhere in between, your comments are welcome here!