Music Review Services: What’s Their Place in an Artist’s Strategy?

By Alex Horowitz

As many musicians know, there’s no shortage of services out there offering artists feedback on their music from unbiased sources.  Of course, that begs the question — just how useful are these services, and what role can they play in your development as an artist?

To better understand the potential value of music review services, we had two TuneCore employees, both part-time musicians in their own right, anonymously submit their music to TuneCore’s own Track Smarts service for review.  We’ll refer to them as Nick and Chris.

Let’s take a look at what our TuneCore friends learned from their reports.

Subjective Or Objective?

The reports Nick and Chris received were robust, containing metrics, charts, and, of course, individual fan reviews of their selected song.  Surprisingly, despite the increasingly important role data plays in the life of a music marketer, both our test subjects felt it was actually the completely subjective, individual reviews written by a random sampling of real music fans that offered them both the most value.

While at first glance this might be surprising — after all, we live in an age where data is king — it actually makes a lot of sense.

The data offered by their respective reports was largely designed to compile and quantify what the reviews were saying.  For example, Track Smarts utilizes what it calls a Passion Rating to quantify not just how favorably your music was reviewed, but how much fervor there was about your song by those that reviewed it positively.  The measurement provided a great way for Nick and Chris to quickly digest an aggregate of what the reviews were saying overall, but actually reading individual reviews actually offered an even deeper and more insightful understanding of how an average music fan was likely to react to their music.

Context Is King

I actually sat next to Chris as he poured over his Track Smarts report for the first time.  The comment I heard him mumble to himself the most?  Something along the lines of, “Well, yeah, ok, I knew that already.”

Chris makes a somewhat niche sub-genre of EDM which, though it enjoys a large and passionate following of devoted fans, would not be likely to find a home on the popular music charts in 2015.  Unsurprisingly, Chris’ music received a larger quantity of low marks than Nick’s from average music fans that just didn’t get it.

However, those that enjoyed his music seemed to enjoy it immensely.  In fact, those that liked his music the most even compared his work to, without knowing it, his favorite musician and biggest personal influence.  So, while the numbers that attempted to “grade” his music were lowered by his receiving fewer favorable reactions than he might have hoped for, what he actually learned from individual reviews offered him some measure of validation regarding the value of his music, as well as useful insights from those that are actually fans of his genre.

The takeaway here is that, as with any set of data, context is important.  If you’re trying to reach the top of the pop charts, the quantity of fans that find something agreeable about your music is likely a metric to which you’ll want to pay close attention.  If you’re dabbling in a more niche genre, be prepared for less people to understand your music’s value, and instead pay close attention to the comments you receive from those that get it.  The top-level numbers are important, but as with any set of data, the key is to contextualize what the data means for you in particular.

So, What Now?

The nicest thing a working musician could say about a tool in their marketing toolbox is, ‘Because I have this, I can tangibly improve my art or my career by taking this specific action.’  By that measure, in our little experiment, music review services have earned high marks, as both Nick and Chris were very impressed by the extent to which their reports offered specific points of feedback that will actually impact their artistic decision in the future.

For example, Nick learned from his report that for those that liked his song, his guitar riffs stood out as a key selling point of his music.  Nick had actually never made his guitar riffs his main focus, and is now likely to feature them more prominently in his live shows and recordings.

In Conclusion (A.K.A. “The Short Version”)

Didn’t read the whole article?  No sweat, here’s the gist: from the experience Nick and Chris had with these reports, our conclusion is that music review services can certainly have a place in a serious artist’s toolbox, especially artists still looking to hone their craft, so long as the artist is smart about keeping the findings from their report in proper context.  Be sure to not just look for scores and ratings and leave it at that.  Think about what your feedback means for your career in particular, and take some time to dive into individual reviews and look to trends or common reactions for specific useful tips that can improve your work.

With the right set of eyes, an objective opinion can go a long way in helping you grow as an artist.


Next Steps for TuneCore Artists

If you’re interested in TuneCore’s music review service, Track Smarts, you can learn more by clicking here, or view a sample report.

 

New Music Friday: July 31, 2015

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

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Impossible
Angel Haze

Hip Hop/Rap

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Sunny
Reed Deming

Pop, Singer/Songwriter

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Believer
Meghan Linsey

Pop, R&B/Soul

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Stainless
Ali Brustofski
Singer/Songwriter, Pop

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As Heard On TV
Colt Ford

Country

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Boys (Golden Coast Remix)
Savannah Outen

Pop, Dance

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A Light to Lead the Dark
Ryan Dilmore

Singer/Songwriter, Pop

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Doing the Most
Kirby Maurier

Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul

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All Red
De$to

Hip Hop/Rap

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Into Life
Aethus

Electronic, Instrumental

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Summer Saga
Mediatrix Music

Electronic, Dance

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Life, Lies & Luxury
J Cutta

Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul

July News From Our Store Partners

By Dwight Brown

Digital music stores are making changes that are turning the heat up this summer.

They’re growing, changing affiliations, adding territories and introducing new features that will affect artists who want their music downloaded and streamed—everywhere.

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According to Music Business Worldwide, these days YouTube is the #1 music streaming platform in the UK and US and its market share is getting bigger and bigger and bigger… There may be a debate about whether YouTube is paying music rights-holders enough dough. But what isn’t in question is that the 10-year-old video-sharing website is living larger than Spotify and the rest of its competitors. With that kind of mojo, YouTube Music Key is an increasingly viable way for artists to make money.

8tracks_logo_blueIf you’re a TuneCore Artist whose music has been featured on 8tracks’ playlists through SoundCloud links, listen up. That duo has broken up. As of July 24th, no tracks can be added from SoundCloud. And an 8Tracks Blog article reports that starting September 30th SoundCloud tracks can no longer be streamed from existing 8tracks playlists. There are more details, but what’s important to you is that if you want your music to be added to 8Tracks playlists, so your tunes can be discovered, add your singles and albums to the 8Tracks store. With 8 million monthly internet radio listeners—one of the biggest audiences for independent music on the web—your songs should be on their playlists that are known for featuring no fewer than “8” tracks.

7digital

7digital, an international downloading and streaming service that has made inroads in Europe, North America, India, Australia and Latin America, is expanding its global reach to 40 countries in Africa through a deal with the South African collection society CAPASSO. Nigeria loves rap and hip-hop, and soul acts like Janelle Monáe and John Legend or in the top twenty on Nigeria iTunes Top 20 Songs list. Shazam Charts list former TuneCore Artist Silentó’s hit “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” in the top ten in South Africa. BuzzKenya.com says gospel music is the #1 genre in Kenya and rap music is closing in. The #1 hit on the Botswana iTunes Top 20 Songs is singer/songwriter James Bay’s Hold Back the River, followed by tunes from Jordan Sparks and country singer Kenny Rogers. Safe to say all kinds of music is getting downloaded and streamed in Africa these days. Yours can be too if you make sure you add your music to the 7Digital store.

spotifySpotify says its new Discover Weekly is the ultimate personalized playlist. These Monday morning, two-hour playlists are based on listeners’ personal tastes blended with music enjoyed by like-minded music fans. Deep cuts are played alongside a lot of discoveries, which means emerging TuneCore Artists have a new chance to get their music in front of a whole new audience. Back in the day friends passed mixtapes around. Discover Weekly mimics that feel, and is easy to access and listen to across all platforms and devices. It’s even available offline for that wish-I-didn’t-have-to-do-it, where-did-the-weekend-go Monday morning commute. “It’s just another manic Monday?” Not any more!

This summer, change is in the air! Take advantage.

If you’re a TuneCore Artist, go to your Store Manager Page to add stores or for more convenience add Store Automator and every time we add a new store we will add it to the releases you selected.

If you are not distributing your music through TuneCore yet, this summer is the perfect time to start.

Wednesday Video Diversion: July 29, 2015

Happy Hump Day, universe. We’re here to steal your eyes and ears and general attention span for a wonderful Wednesday round-up of TuneCore Artist videos! Check ’em out after the jump.


Post Malone, “White Iverson”


Nef the Pharaoh, “Big Tymin'”


De$to, “5 Hunit N 4 (504)”


Alexandra Stan & INNA, “We Wanna (ft. Daddy Yankee)”


Chloe Caroline, “A Kiss Don’t Lie”


The Jungle Giants, “Kooky Eyes”


The Paper Kites, “Bloom”


PJ Morton, “Only One (ft. Stevie Wonder)”


FLETCHER, “Warpaint”


Lena Fayre, “This World”

TuneCore Artists Earn More Than $35Million in Q2 of 2015!

NEW YORKJuly 29, 2015 — Leading digital music distribution and publishing administration service provider, TuneCore, announced today that TuneCore artists have earned more than $35 million in Q2 of 2015, a 6 percent increase versus the same time in 2014. Since 2006, TuneCore Artists have earned more than $576 million from over 18.7 billion downloads and streams.

International discovery is vital for incoming revenues, and working through its more than 150 digital partners around the globe, TuneCore is committed to its core mission of getting more artists’ music heard by more people around the world.  In Q2, emerging markets continued to play an important role in growing audiences for independent musicians: Central AmericaSouth America and Asia have experienced impressive growth, seeing 351 percent, 834 percent and 496 percent increases (respectively) in streams, compared to Q2 of 2014.

In the second quarter of 2015, TuneCore Publishing Administration collected 210 percent more artist income through TuneCore artists’ music placements in film and television over the same period in 2014.  Artists’ music appeared in high-profile campaigns such as the NHL Playoffs, “American Idol” Season 14, “Criminal Minds,” and much more.

An infographic with data and highlights is available here.

FOCUS ON ARTIST OPPORTUNITIES

Major Q2 partnership initiatives focused on providing independent music creators additional tools to grow a successful business. TuneCore Domains offers .BAND and .ROCKS domain names and email addresses to all customers.  In addition, MSCLVR allows artists to create and share original links for their music on iTunes that can track sales and earn artists an additional 10 percent from global iTunes sales commissions.  Available through the TuneCore Artist Services portal, these offerings provide creative new ways for independent artists to brand their online presence, connect with fans, and gain more visibility for their music.

TuneCore also partnered with leading influencer marketing platform, TapInfluence, to give brands and agency marketers unprecedented access to independent music influencers for sponsored social campaigns. The partnership allows TuneCore to provide even more revenue opportunities and services for artists ready to take their careers to the next level.

Also in Q2, in partnership with Swisher Sweets Artist Project, TuneCore jointly launched Convenience Store Sessions, surprise pop-up performances at local convenience stores, all captured on video and shared online. The first of ten Convenience Store Sessions featuring FMLYBND and Andy Allo are live at ap.swishersweets.com/sessions. New Convenience Store Sessions will pop up each month through the end of 2015, along with new programs focused on increasing exposure for artists worldwide and providing tools to help build their careers.

“The first half of 2015 has been an exciting time for TuneCore.  We are always looking for new ways to support independent artists and their careers, and as digital music consumption continues to grow, so do the potential revenue opportunities,” said TuneCore CEO Scott Ackerman. “We’re excited to see how the industry is evolving, so we can continue to identify new partners and services to help independent musicians further succeed on a global level.”

On September 19-20, TuneCore will host its inaugural Indie Artist Forum at SIR studios in Hollywood, California — the two day event is aimed at arming independent artists with the tools, relationships, and information needed to grow their careers.  The forum will feature roundtable discussions, keynote speakers, networking opportunities, and more.

TUNECORE COMBINES FORCES WITH BELIEVE DIGITAL  

In April, TuneCore joined with Believe Digital, the leading fully independent digital distributor and services provider for artists and labels worldwide. The strategic relationship opens up new, advanced revenue opportunities for TuneCore artists, providing new ways for independent artists worldwide to reach fans, sell music and advance their careers while still maintaining full control and ownership of their work.

The strategic partnership with Believe Digital provides TuneCore Artists with an opportunity to tap into Believe Digital’s comprehensive global services, providing a truly modern, DIY record label experience with ground support across the globe. Artists now have access to a wider digital distribution network and more tools and services to empower them to succeed, increasing the opportunities to get more music heard by more people in more locations. Believe Digital has offices in 29 countries and a staff of over 250 music industry and digital marketing experts.

Artist Breakdown: TuneCore Live at Bardot July 29

We’re getting used to hitting you with event previews and artists breakdowns for TuneCore Live, and we’re not mad about it. Entering its 8th round, we’ll be back with Swisher Sweets, Mirrored Media and CeleBuzz to present another awesome roster of TuneCore Artists and a night of dancing, networking and fun.

On Wednesday, July 29th, if you’re in the LA-area, come hang out and enjoy some great free music from Madyx, Air Bag One, and ANIMA! – plus DJ William Lifestyle providing the jams in between sets. Not familiar with some of those artists? Read more after the jump and sample some tunes – if you dig it, doors are at 8PM, admittance is free and it’s 21+. Be sure to get there early, as we always advise, because it’s likely to pack in quick!

Madyx

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22-year old Michelle Blanchard, aka Madyx, originally moved to LA to pursue her efforts as a member of rock band Life Down Here at age 16. While they achieved some success and a considerable fan base, Madyx was born of Michelle’s evolving tastes. Described as “a mix of P!nk and Katy Perry”, she’s building a name for herself as a pop/alternative artist in the LA-area and beyond. Peep her debut single, “Some Kisses” (recorded by Grammy-nominated producer Brian Howes) below:

“When I think of myself as an independent artist, the sky’s the limit. There’s a certain kind of freedom you get as a writer to create the music that you love and want to share with the world; not to mention the ability to release it anyway you choose. For me, TuneCore plays a huge part in helping me distribute my music to all the key download and streaming sites around the world.”

Air Bag One

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It’s always awesome when you find out the folks responsible behind ‘all that sound’ is in fact just a  duo. Hailing from Cameroon, Air Bag One aren’t afraid to join their lush and soulful indie-rock/electro sound with visual components – they embraced their love of art by collaborating with renowned music photographer Janette Beckman and LA-based artist Blake Little. Experimenting with “a wide pop spectrum rubbed with paranoia”, Air Bag One has shared the stage with HAIM, Imagine Dragons, and The Maccabees. Check out their latest single “Killing Stars” below:

“Being independent is being free in your artistic choices. You don’t need anyone for being who you are. We have always done everything ourselves from the beginning, controlling either the music, the videos, the photos, and even ironing our clothes before the shows. It’s also taking risks and make mistakes. But then, you learn for the future.

TuneCore has helped us spreading our music on the internet in an independent way. They allow our fans to listen to our music mostly everywhere they can and that’s so contemporary! In few clicks, one can listen to our tracks while cooking, or under their shower, or in the street.”

ANIMA!

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ANIMA! is a duo that completely nails the marriage of electronic music and folk lyrics. Consisting of violinist/producer Vicente Espi and singer/songwriter Arielle Vakni, ANIMA! hit #1 on the iTunes New Artist Chart on the release day of their EP Be Here Now. iTunes wasn’t the only platform that noticed their potential – ANIMA! has been garnering positive press reviews on all corners of the web and are surely an act to watch (and catch live!) in 2015. Enjoy their breakout single “Breathe” below.

“Being an independent artist allows us to be the purest form of what are. Tunecore is the soil, you are the seed and your listeners the water.”