Reverbnation – Is it a joke?

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I remember a friend of mine who was renting from me about 10 years ago showing me one of his tracks that he had shared on ReverbNation and suggested that I place some of my music there as well. I browsed around for a bit… listened to some of his tracks, but quite honestly felt the platform looked unattractive and in my opinion, targeted towards artists in a genre that was way outside of the type of music I produced.   I didn’t like it.  In fact, I hated it and didn’t want to be associated with it.

As a developing artist however, I’m always looking for ways to present my music in ways that may lead to more discovery and recently I noted a few of my artist friends have a presence on ReverbNation.  I decided to give it a shot, and after about of month of having a presence there, I figured I would share my thoughts so far.

I am still unsure of the platform, and it’s only been a month. I don’t want to drive a nail in the coffin in regards to ReverbNation just yet, but there are a few things I still just DON’T like about the platform, and some services the platform offers that I would probably recommend not investing in.

Lets first start with the presentation of an artist profile on the site.

Presentation

I was honestly surprised at the number of pros vs cons as I sat down to write this.  I think it’s just the one Con I have listed that makes me cringe when I look at the artist profile page.

Pros

  • The sites designers have obviously employed a responsive web design approach to the site that is a big win for me.
  • I like how the artist banner is large on a large display and scales nicely when the browser window is reduced.
  • Your music is placed prominently at the top of the main content area. Something many sites fail to do which seems quite absurd.
  • Artist information is nicely displayed just to the right of the music if the viewing experience is wide enough.
  • On mobile, the artist profile picture is shown in lieu of the large banner, with a “more…” link to actually read about the artist.
  • Overall nice presentation.

Cons

  • The one thing that I absolutely hate about the presentation is how artwork is presented.  A photo gallery of album art work, working in the studio, behind the scenes imagery is a great thing to have.  However ReverbNation bastardizes your artwork when presenting on the home page.  For example, my banner image is also shown in the photo gallery, but it’s “squashed” to fit within the gallery area of the page.  If you click on the image, it is of course shown in it’s original aspect ratio, but for initial presentation in the gallery section? It’s deplorable and looks insanely amateurish. When viewed along everything else, to me this makes the entire page look amateurish.

Song/Album management

It starts to get worse here.

Pros

  • You can easily add an album and songs and the process is streamlined….however

Cons

  • WHY are the advanced metadata sections now allowed at the SAME time you are adding a song.  Sure, some artists may want to just quickly add some tracks with ease, by just selecting the song; giving it a title; determining if it’s streaming or downloadable, but for goodness sakes, give someone the option to supply the additional metadata at the same time, without forcing them to upload first, THEN go back and find the song in the song list to apply that metadata.  I like to supply as much metadata up front as I can.  SoundCloud/Bandcamp/etc. does a GREAT job of this.  ReverbNation’s implementation is horrible.
  • ONLY MP3?   It’s 2016!  Am I missing something here?  I should be allowed to upload my music at it’s best format, and the platform should provide features to deliver the content in the users preferred format.  Oh, and if you want to upload a DECENT Mp3 version of your song, well you have to sign up for a subscription then.  Otherwise you’re limited to very lossy versions just to be able to upload a song more than 1 minute in length.  This prevents anyone from actually “Trying” the service before going all in.
  • Maybe I’m too obtuse.

Stats/Ranking

Yeah, right. Let’s start with a picture for reference.

Reverbnation 30 day stats

So you’re telling me that after only “16” plays, I’m ranked number 1 in the Dallas area, and 268 nationally in the Electronica category?

The following must apply to these figures

  1. There are not that many artists who classify themselves as Electronica in my local region, i.e. not much competition.
  2. How can only I be listed number 1 after only 16 plays??? Obviously the algorithm they are using is based on most number of plays recently, vs number of plays over time.  I would guarantee that the artist listed at number 2 in both charts has more than 16 plays each, but those plays are not most recent.  This tells me the ranking system they employ is complete garbage.

Pros

  • I could shout out to my social channels that I’m ranked number 1!

Cons

  • That number one spot, doesn’t really mean anything, so why bother.

Services

There is only one service that I’m going to detail, because after using it, I have absolutely no desire to try their other services.  And that service is the “Test for Radio” service.  As per their own description:

“Is this song good enough for radio?

Songs that are ready for a mainstream audience score a Track Rating of 7.0 or higher with Crowd Reviews.

Crowd-sourced reviews let you know if your music is ready for a mainstream audience. With descriptive reports and in-depth statistics, Crowd Reviews are a great way of knowing where your music’s strengths and weaknesses lie.”

So you basically elect for a song to be tested.  It’s sent to a set number of listeners (Based on how much you pay) and they (ehem) “Listen” to your song and critique it for you and score it.

I decided to try this service with a couple of my songs.

Ambient Highways.  The title track from the Ambient Highways album.

And Goodbye Dubai – From the album Skylines.

I felt they were both decent songs to utilize for the experiment. One very ambient track, and one more upbeat soft-electro rock.

I signed up for the service, and after a few days I got my results.

Ambient Highways received a 7.3 score out of 10, whereas Goodbye Dubai received a 7.1 score out of 10.  So both scored 7.0 or higher and are considered radio ready.

Awesome! That’s great!

So let’s take a look at the analysis for Ambient Highways

Ambient Highways ReverbNation Analysis

And then you have the reviews themselves.

Now stop… Before you go ANY Further.  If you have not heard either of my songs, I would encourage you to take a moment and listen to them.  You will obviously notice that they are instrumentals.  There are NO vocals in these songs.

Most of the little mini reviews were nice. You can tell that “Most” of them, actually listened and provided some good feedback.  I’ll share that good feedback in a moment, but let me first start off with this review that was made.

This song has major potential. I believe this song can be on the tip charts. The beat and the lyrics fit the song perfectly. Overall, great song looking forward hearing more of what more it has in store for the listeners. This songs has potential.

Did you catch that? The part about the lyrics?  Obviously, they did NOT listen to the song.

Here is another:

well there were no vocals in this one but i love how well this was put together. It was relaxing. To be honest it sounded like an ending song for a move.One of the best pieces ive heard on this app. i give this a 10 out of 10.

The targeting is SUPPOSED to be towards people that like the same type of genre that you have the song set to.   It’s my firm belief that these reviewers on ReverbNation think “Electronica” and “Ambient” obviously means EDM (Electronic Dance Music).  So they are expecting EDM, as that’s what Electronic Music means to them.

Here’s a great example of this mentality:

dont really like this track something missing cant quite put my finger on it .Maybe a little base some where in the middle of the song might do it some justice.would be a very good drum and base song people would love the drum and bass remix of this deffo.

Maybe this reviewer has a point.  Maybe an EDM/Dance mix of Ambient HIghways should be put together. I dunno.

However, the other 38 reviews for Ambient Highways were nice, I’m just not sure if the listeners truly listened to it, or if the targeting that ReverbNation uses is correct.  I don’t see a better option to classify my music on their site.

Here’s a couple examples of the others:

The intro is nice, I like the slow pace that it starts off with. I think how they add the instruments in is solid, and is appealing to most people, including myself. I think that the harmonies created are beautiful and are very soothing to the ears. The piano is especially nice. I like the loud parts and soft parts, and also how it rapidly changes from one to the other. I wish there were vocals to this song, it could tell a good story. I am a fan of the techno part, definitely different.

and

The start of the song is really beautiful, amazing and it has a great tune. Although it’s kind of long, but I can feel the smoothness that it wants to display. Additionally, the record quality is really good, and I feel it’s a good song to hear while meditating. In conclusion, a great song with a great use of the instruments.

and

I like how this song starts out. I think this song is nice and I like how the instruments were used. The rhythm is nice. I like the production as well. I am interested in hearing more from this artist because I believe the artist really knows what they’re doing.

So some nice comments made, but as evidenced in the last one… They REALLY didn’t listen to it.  There is no rhythm at all in Ambient Highways.

The same pattern shows itself on Goodbye Dubai.  Once again, NO VOCALS/LYRICS IN THIS SONG!

great song, good vocals, good harmony, i love the beat of this song, i’d dance along to this for sure at a party. i’d love to hear this song and much more from the artist on the radio. love their voice and the lyrics of this song.

And of course something like this:

The instrumental is just amazing. Its so soothing, but there is no vocals so i did not like that. but overall, I love the beat and its just so relaxing. i can honestly can say that they could have done better, and the music is awesome

So “they could have done better, and the music is awesome”.  If it’s so amazing, and awesome what could have been done better? Don’t tell me something could be done better without providing some decent feedback.  And it’s a bit rhetoric.

Pros

  • None. I don’t see the ROI or value of the service unless you are making EDM or “Beats” as they say.  The reviews that are given just seem very generic.

Cons

  • Reviewers truly don’t listen to the song.
  • Can’t target reviews properly

Overall, ReverbNation is yet another platform to host your music, and possibly have new fans discover your music, but at this point I would ignore their ranking and stats to provide you any real value.  Also, I’ve only used one service, and the results were almost what I predicted.  Absolutely not worth the investment.

19 Replies to “Reverbnation – Is it a joke?”

  1. Keith, great article by the way. I’ve been debating giving RN any of my money and this article pretty much made up my mind. One thing that jumped out at me with the reviews left for your songs, is the same as you mentioned, reviewers probably not listening to songs. I think this has something to do with sites like RN having a bank of generic reviews. Then some computer just assigned all of these pre-written reviews randomly to songs being submitted by actual artists. It sucks to think this is happening, but if there was a way to compare all of the reviews for bands out there, it would be interesting to see how often these types of things are happening. I’m sure RN is not the only review site doing this. http://www.WeLikeToRock.com

    1. Yeah, for the longest time I wouldn’t even give them a thought (I think I expressed that in the post) but figured I would give it a shot. And well, there are the results. I may still keep the free option, just as a source to redirect folks to my main site. Who knows.

  2. I joined reverbnation a few years ago when I started getting into recording. I put up a couple of demos but didn’t pay much attention to it. When I next looked in I decided the demos were a bit flaky so I took them down, and left no tracks on the account. The next time I looked, weeks later, I was number one! Silence works.

      1. great blog. hi sir. hi keith… Respectfully posting this, Reverb is not a joke.Not to a artist or two i know. Not to me neither.But, I wish you luck though. My friend is doing quite well,and imo it make sense rank move up by also proper marketing et.al., so i’m happy for a friend of mine, she is doing so well,and again, the part though Mr.”TALENTED KEITH RICHIE!” lol the part i agree with is 1 part, “the reviews.”‘Some definitely that you’re procuring did seem real. but yep 1 or 2 did not. So again we love the reverb. I know 1 woman named GINA CUTILLO made it,literally cracked billboard top forty or 100,and heck my friend would be happy with doing that,and ms.cutillo yes! is still on reverb just amazing. God bless you,you’re really talented keith. Keep enjoying what you do. That is my friend motto, whether or not we all make it one day and see each other on billboard.if not?You’re still enjoying what you do,and that is a blessing in our own right.from Morgan Farantino

  3. The only thing it’s good for is some of the opportunities. The spelling and grammar in the reviews are very suspect. We had radio quality songs by top musicians and the reviewers made stupid comments. Also they would say I don’t like country I like rap so I give it a zero or something. Also you can pay for fake plays like this one lady does to stay #1 in country in the world. I won’t say her name but she never does a thing and has thousands of song plays. Yet never performs etc. Just some rich older woman with a lot of plastic surgery. It’s pretty obvious it’s not legit. Then today I saw a guy that I don’t even think is real. There aren’t any fans on RN only artists. I think they are just exploiting people for their dreams.

    1. I just explained that reverbnation is a tech company and not really a music company. Rankings does represent how good the music is. Ranking is based on the over all online presence of an artist outside of reverbnation. They calculate based on how many new fans, song plays, and shows the artist has on other platforms such as SoundCloud, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

    2. Ann. I read your post.

      Well, i know 1 who would disaree… GINA CUTILLO and others who are on billboard at 1 time and still today on RN would highly disagree wit cha! i and my friends on rn luv it, so far so good that is. and also i m not again buying social marketing likes to build up a brand from FB to other sites. i get it. it’s all marketing ..But,good luck to you and and those who know what they are doing, that i have seen it works for some. I can care “less if a man got surgery or a lady.”their body,their mission,their objective.” (Long as the person is loving one’s self and not lookin all crazy.) So far Reverb has been great for those in my inner circle.Good luck either way.” You’re going to get what you put into it,again that is how we in my inner team circle look at it.”

  4. I been with RN for a while now, I paid for their distribution service and to sell my music on the site. So far in the past few years I have collected on 60k from them… Just 2 years ago, I was collecting around $1,200.00 to $1,500 a month from my sales and streams.. I never had any problems with RN. But thy don’t collect from YouTube like I hear CD Baby Do.. I’m still stuck on should I drop my next project on RN, CD Baby or Tunecore any suggestions???

  5. Nice article, and clearly represents the shortfalls (and maybe some good things) about ReverbNation. I have heard from a few people that the crowd reviews always seem to be right around that magic 7 number (We got a 7.1). Seems like they want you to think you have some good music, but always not quite good enough for the main page. Keeps you coming back for another review, right? I have also found that the ad campaigns are pretty much worthless. We tried a “Promote It” and a “Sponsored” ad, and neither generated a single sale. Worse yet, the Sponsored ads do not even give you metrics on how many times it was shown or clicked! I mean, come on, this is like website ads 101. I will say that you can get your music heard by a lot of other musicians very easily. That might be the only benefit. Sadly though, most of the other musicians are not interested in buying your music.

  6. The #1 thing that everyone here needs to realize is that Reverbnation is a TECH COMPANY not a music company. This is absolutely true as they get their Ranking based on your artist presence OUTSIDE of reverbnation aka Twitter, Facebook, soundcloud, etc. YOUR RANKING has NOTHING to do with HOW GOOD YOUR MUSIC is on reverbnation. Also as for the reviews, they hire bums on the internet aka get paid to review music. Wether or not these low paid reviewers actually listen to the songs is out of reverbnation control. These guys gets paid pennies per review so they would want to write as many as possible so it is very possible the reviewer just don’t care to listen.
    I don’t work for reverbnation but I like the site. I had paid $0 to them and found I have made top 10 multiple times and did research how their ranking system works.

  7. Hi, so after all this which sites would you recommend over reverbnation as a platform to promote yourself and your music, as an artist?

  8. I had 3 songs reviewed and they were exactly as you described. They said the piano part in the beginning ,we don’t play a piano. Some were on track I just wrote it would be easy for 10 people and 4 employees to produce 50 reviews.

  9. Nice work – good article. But I’m commenting ’cause I really like “Ambient Highways” you walked the fine line between using electronics but still giving the music a soul. Really beautiful – it has a tubular bells feel. I mean that in the most complimentary way. BTW I’m on Reverb nation and read your article ’cause I just got the “your song’s in the top 10 message” ha ha.

  10. Great job Keith. My band have been using ReverbNation for a couple of months now and we can concur with your experience. I played my 10 track album 10 times the other day and we went straight to number one!!!

  11. Reverbnation lifts your Twitter follower count and uses that as you “fan” count on RN. A Twitter follower is not automatically a fan of the music. A bit disingenuous, yes?

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