Posted tagged ‘review’

Getting Your Fans to Review Your Music

April 6, 2010

Jessica Sonner

It’s great if they post a comment or a review of your album without you asking, but why not go out of your way to ask you fans to say a good word or two…or three

Why does it matter?
Fan comments are a big deal, after all, its the fans that fuel the flame, right? Their your mouth…your “word of mouth”. When a fan drops a nice note or an enthusiastic “I can’t believe your music is so freakin’ amazing!” post on your facebook, that encourages others to check out your tunes, get excited about your music, and possibly download a song.

Where Are They Saying?
Here are a couple very important places where your fans’s words will be noted:

  • iTunes: People read reviews before they buy music. It would be worth asking your fans to put up a kind word or two when downloading your album. By the way, you probably knew this already but iTunes has simplified urls. In other words, if your music is on iTunes, you can direct fans to I’m not sure what they’re doing for artists with incredibly common names.
  • CDBaby: Similar to iTunes, people will read reviews when they’re considering buying your tunes.
  • Facebook Page: Don’t put your wall setting to only show your bands updates. Make sure your fans comments are visible. I’d argue that the “Wall” might actually be more important than the “Info” page.
  • Your Site’s Guestbook: Many people think guestbooks are useless. I’ve always seen guestbooks as just another great way for fans to communicate with you. Check out Jessica Sonner’s guestbook for ideas. It’s clean simple, and the long list of entries prove that she has a devoted following. Guestbooks also are  not exclusive like Facebook where only FB members can comment.
  • Twitter: If your fans say something nice about your music, retweet it. Why not.

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Incredible Resources You’ve Never Heard About #5

September 10, 2009


Over the past few years, several music-related websites have increased in popularity due to the fact that they put every-day people in charge of the decision-making.  Sites like iLike  allow users to vote their favorite artists into the limelight.  It’s much like the blog phenomenon that took place 5 years ago; everyday bloggers became the go-to source for reviews on books, movies, and music…whereas 10 years ago, only official review sites were thought to be credible.

That said, here are a few resources that are taking the place of traditional music review sites.

TheSixtyOne describes itself as a website that “makes music culture more democratic: artists upload their work for review, but rather than allow a stuffy suit in a boardroom to decide what’s good, thousands of listeners do.”

TheSixtyOne is one of the sites that will gain much popularity in the coming year.  It’s a great thing when a bunch of random music lovers and makers, like yourself, can determine what everyone hears…as opposed to pop radio stations that play the “Top 10”, five times a day. TheSixtyOne organizes submitted music according to “top songs”, “hot right now”, “recently posted”, and “creative commons”.   Your song rises in ranking depending on how many times a listener votes for it.  Users can also create social groups to talk about specific genres and types of songs.  Based on user picks, TheSixtyOne also acts as a radio station, playing the top songs.

I did a  quick search on this site and realized that Grassrootsy has never mentioned Ourstage – one of the primary “fans decide” resources out there.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ourstage and have even had a few close friends get on the “Top 10” chart of their specific genre. So assuming that some readers are unfamiliar with the site, here’s a quick look.

Ourstage is often described as a community talent contest. Visitors vote on music in genres ranging from hip-hop, folk, gospel, hard rock, singer/songwriter, and some 30+ others.  Ourstage calls each primary category a “channel”. Each month, the top 10 songs in each channel go head-to-head for $100.  The winner from each channel competes for $5,000. Ourstage runs many other contests but to get an idea of how it works, visit their contest page.

Artists can also create a fan page, for fans to join.  I know its sounds like another myspace or facebook, but its a great way to keep your voters interested in your music and keep the communication going long after the voting is done. It’ll aslo give you a committed group of people that will probably vote for you when you enter a song into a future contest.

The wonderful thing about Ourstage is that you’re not likely to be familiar with any of the artists on the website. It has gained a strong reputation for being a place to experience fresh, new, underground and undiscovered music.


If you’re familiar with any other similar democratice resources out there, please post below. Grassrootsy thrives on new information.

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Creating Content – Giving People Something to Talk About #2

February 5, 2009
Matt Wertz

Matt Wertz

To read the first part of this blog, visit Creating Content #1. Here are some additional ways to create content for your website(s).

I used to be extremely skeptically of using widgets on my page but everyone is using them these days and they are such a great way to simply beef up your page(s). What’s a widget?  I’ts basically a small representation of something bigger.  For example, if you have a photo album on Photobucket, Photobucket will create a slideshow box that will fit compactly on your myspace (or anywhere else for that matter). This is a widget. 

Check out Matt Wertz’s myspace page.  He uses widgets by iLike, Flektor (to create a poll), Slide (to show of his pics in a slideshow).  Alot of artists are using Eventful.  If web surfers click on the famous “demand it” button, that lets an artist know that fans want them to visit their city.  It’s a helpful tool that will likely encourage to travel outside of your comfort zone.

 The fact that major signed artists are also using these applications, gives them more credibility.  The only problem?  Well, its not the ideal situation to have another company’s name or logo on your information but sometimes its the easiest route…especially if you don’t have much html knowledge to alter code.

Realistic expectations

Getting reviews is a huge part of getting your name out there…because its always flattering when someone else is doing the talking for you. I talked about this yesterday in Creating Content #1.  But because so many musicians are trying to get their music heard by some major magazine why not try for a small magazine. Put down People Magazine and go for something small. Even if the smaller mag only get 100 readers a month, who cares!  Chances are they will have a more personal touch.  They’ll probably get back to you within a day or two and they’ll probably spit out a review 10x faster than the average major publication.  BeatCrave is a really great start-up publication with a really professional look.  Just b/c a zine is in its growing phase, doesn’t mean it’ll be tacky, unreliable, or not worth persuing.

I’ve also found that in working with newbies, they are willing to support you in a way that established media will not.  Newbies will link to your website even if you don’t advertise with them.  Newbies will allow you to do special promotions (like a contest) with their readers.

More on realistic expectations
Also look into underdog online podcasts and smaller scale media opportunities like local community TV, and even radio on the AM dial.  Be willing to do the “insignificant” things b/c they will open doors.  Chances are, if you’re doing something on TV or radio, they’ll be able to give you your DVD footage or LIVE audio for use on your website(s).


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Sonicbids & Electronic Press Kits (EPKs): the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

January 26, 2009
Clare Reynolds

Clare Reynolds


Sonicbids more or less introduced the world (and independent artists) to EPKs – Electronic Press Kits. EPKs provide a cost effective way for musicians to submit their music to potential booking agents, venues, festivals, reviewers, radio stations…etc. 

An EPK allows artist to post, a bio, pictures, press, upcoming shows, audio, video, and even sound requirements for gigs.  You could easily use a sonicbids as your website. But keep in mind sonicsbids is not for fans. It exists to get you gigs and publicity.   Here’s a really excellent looking EPK by Australain artist Clare Reynolds.

Here are Sonicbids essential facts…


The Good
Sonicbids exposes artist to thousand of opportunities every year. Sonicbids sends opportunities straight to your mailbox, making you aware of…

  • Regional listings:  festivals and venues in your area that are currently accepting EPKs for upcoming concerts.
  • Music Licensing: agencies that line up music-for-tv, music-for- movies, music-for-commercials…etc
  • Labels/Agencies: looking for fresh talent to manage
  • New Magazines/Podcasts: accepting new music for possible review and radio play
  • the list goes on and on.

Sonicbids also makes information about opportunities available on its website. You can only try for these opportunities with a subscription.


The Bad
Sonicbids charges $5.95 per month for artists to subscribe (I think they charge you in 1-year incriments but I could be wrong).  Depending on who you are and how much $ you have, $5.95 might not be much. But keep this in mind, for every opportunity the Sonicbids emails you about…if you choose to submit your epk to it, Sonicbids will charge you an additional $5-$10 additional.  For example

  • 1.) Sonicbids sends an email saying ABC Magazine is accepting submissions from brand new irish-pop artists. You decide to submit to ABC Magazine. It cost $5 to submit.
  • 2.) Sonicbids sends another email saying the SXSW (South by Southwest) festival is also looking for irish-pop artists to play on their mainstage.  It costs $10 to submit.

In total, you have spent $15 submitting to these opportunities.  This does not gaurantee that you’ll get a review, or the opportunity to play on the mainstage. It simply means your EPK will be reviewed.  This is the #1 reason I am not a fan of Sonicbids.  Indie artists can end up spending hundreds of dollars a year on sonicbids submissions. This is the ugly part if you’re broke and don’t win out on any of the things you bid for (That’s why it’s called Sonicbids).

At the same time, you never know what will happen.  You might just get that SXSW gig and gain thousands of new fans instantly.  Sonicbids is great when it pays off, but realistically it does not always pay off considering that there are possibly hundreds/thousands of people submitting to the same event, podcast…etc. 


A Loophole that sometimes works
Just because an opportunity has been sent to your inbox via Sonicbids, does not mean you have to spend that $5 or $10 to submit through Sonicbids website.  Try this: if ABC Magazine is looking for new music to review, go to ABC Magazine’s website and try submitting on your own!  Some submission are exclusively through Sonicbids.  But you’d be surprised at how many gigs you can try to secure without having to pay extra $$$.  Think of Sonicbids emails simply as a way to make you aware of existing opportunities.


And Don’t Forget Hard Copies
Keep in mind that you can’t always use an EPK.  Some bookers (outside of the Sonicbids abyss) prefer  to have hard copies.  Why? Because its more tangible and it also shows that you are willing to make the extra effort…not just point someone to a link.  Don’t be afraid to spend money to mail an occasional hard copy of your press kit.  See the How to Score Reviews of Your CD post for more on this.


I’m interested in any additional comments you all have about Sonicbids. Have you had good/bad experiences?
If you’re interested in using Sonicbids, head to the website, and familiarize yourself with everything it has to offer.

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What’s the Worst That Can Happen? Really.

January 21, 2009


Melody Gardot

Melody Gardot


Someone will say “No” to you.  That’s pretty much the worse that can happen is. But somehow that  holds so many artists back from reaching their full potential. “No” should never deter you from trying to do something you think is impossible. Here are some thoughts/ideas of seemingly outlandish things that you may think are out of your reach.

Getting a review in a  major (or semi-major) publication
I think its important to have some experience and credibility (i.e some type of “claim to fame”) under your belt before trying to get a huge review.   But when you do have some quality information to feed the press, send over a short query letter to the appropriate editor to see if they might be interested in a write-up.  Visit “How to Score Reviews of Your CD” for more on this.

Having your demo played on the radio
Some music scenes are very supportive of their local artists.  Some are not. But if you want to be played on the radio, look into independent radio stations. You have a greater chance of being played on independent radio than commercial radio.  And don’t just send in your demo.  Visit the website and find out if they have any specific protocol for local artist.  Figure out who the local music DJ is.  For many stations, DJs have special call-in hours during the week where you can call them and talk about your project.  Having them hear your voice is a great way to break the ice before sending in your CD.  Visit  the The Things You’ll Hate To Do…But Should Do Anyways” post for more on this.

Make sure your demo is quality!  Don’t send crap because it won’t get played.  And make sure your demo is well-packaged.  Don’t send a song burned onto a CD-R. Does your artwork (on the disc and on the packaging) look professional?  You want them to take you seriously.

Set Goals
Seriously set goals!  Then write them down.  When you have concrete goals, your words/thoughts/dreams are closer to actually happening.  Set practical goals. If you’ve never performed, make a goal to do at least 1 show/month.  If you want to have a strong fan base in your city, make a resolution to be on top of as many events as possible.  Always be aware of what’s going on. Immerse yourself in your local music scene.  Visit the “New Year, New Ideas” post for more ideas on setting goals and stepping up your game.

Opening for a national touring artist
National acts are coming through town all the time…and they’re not always playing in huge venues. Sometimes they’re playing in  clubs,  lounges, listening rooms, and art spaces. You’d be surprised!  If you know of a venue in Pittsburgh that regularly hosts national artists, why not contact their booker and ask them how they choose openers?  In some/many cases, national acts set up a tour with their own hand-picked openers. Consider contacting the artists booking agent directly. Refer to the “Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go” for tips on how to be aware of what your local scene has to offer.  Remember that opening for a national act is really a great thing to add on your “resume”

It doesn’t always work
Last summer I found out about singer/songwriter Melody Gardot.  She’s huge in Philly and has a great national following. I found out that she would be playing at The World Cafe during the same weekend I planned to be in town.  After searching her site I found her agent’s email and shot him a message.  I talked about myself in 3rd person (bad idea…b/c he totally saw through it)  and suggested that I would be a great opener for Melody that weekend.  He responded promptly, said they already had an opener, and wished me the best of luck.  No hard feelings…just felt stupid since I talked about myself in 3rd person in attempts to sound more official.  


If you’re good at something and you keep doing it, and then keep doing it, you will eventually get where you’re going.

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