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Crowd Review Track Smarts: SoundOut vs AudioKite vs Music Xray

This is the story of a mediocre song. An objectively mediocre song. My song. Curse you, data!

If you’re looking for unbiased feedback on your latest track, you’ve got five options. Well, five-ish.

There’s SoundOut, which I wrote about way back in 2010.

Then there’s ReverbNation Crowd Review and TuneCore Track Smarts, both of which are powered by SoundOut.

Are all three SoundOut services the same? We’ll find out.

I reviewed AudioKite earlier this year, gushingly. A new and improved version launched just this month.

Finally, Music Xray offers a diagnostics feature, which presents your track to 5 music professionals and 20 potential fans.

Which is right for you?

Time for a good old-fashioned market research shootout!

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NBS

What Artists Should Know About Next Big Sound

Perhaps you don’t sell too many albums on iTunes, or have that many SoundCloud plays or YouTube views. But maybe, just maybe, your music is really popular in some far off corner of the digital universe you never even knew about, and all that “exposure” you’ve racked up over the years is paying off behind the scenes.

Next Big Sound provides detailed online music analytics to measure the growth of bands on streaming services and social networks. It doesn’t cover everything, but it casts a wide enough net to shatter an artist’s dreams with cold, hard data. I know it did mine! <sniff>

Cidney at NBS agreed to give me an artist credit for one month so that I could write this article, way back in April. Hopefully she’ll forget to downgrade my account.

Features

Key Metrics

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LANDR

Can LANDR Replace Your Mastering Engineer?

Drag-and-drop online mastering is here, and it’s free to try. LANDR provides unlimited 192 kbps mp3 masters of your tracks in seconds.

If you like what you hear, you can pay for uncompressed 16-bit .wav masters. Pricing is very reasonable at $9 for four or $19 for unlimited masters per month. Paid users also get to select the “intensity” of the mastering: low, medium (the default), or high.

Their algorithms were refined over eight years of university research, and they even have a resident astrophysicist. An astrophysicist!

Guess this mastering engineer is out of a job, right?

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What Artists Should Know About AudioKite

Has this ever happened to you? You think you’ve written your best song yet, but an offhand remark from a friend plunges you into self-doubt. Wouldn’t it help to have feedback from music fans of your genre who have no incentive to sugar-coat their opinions?

Sure, you say! I’ll just use SoundOut, or ReverbNation Crowd Review (also powered by SoundOut). Unfortunately, my experience with SoundOut, and those of most of the commenters, left a lot to be desired. I’ve also received a mostly useless – but free – focus group from Music Xray, and even repurposed Jango aka Radio Airplay to create my own focus group.

AudioKite has built a better mousetrap. Here’s why:

Amazon Mechanical Turk. Listeners are enlisted from Amazon Mechanical Turk rather than SliceThePie, the listener end of SoundOut. I don’t know the nuts and bolts of the operation, but the end result is that listeners comment coherently and seem to actually listen to the whole song. There’s no sign that anyone is trying to game the system by listening to only the first minute and copy/pasting generic reviews.

I asked Alex of AudioKite to explain how they ensure listeners are actually listening. Here’s what he had to say:

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Top 10 Music Promotion Posts of 2013

2013 was a slow year for Passive Promotion, because I was too busy with this, this, and this to write. For the most part, I focused on creation rather than promotion. Next year I’ll have two EPs and a full-length Color Theory album to promote, and you can bet I’ll be sharing my methods and results with you here.

While I didn’t write too much over the past year, I did read a whole lot! Here are my top 10 music promotion posts of 2013, in reverse chronological order, based on how useful I found them for my particular needs and circumstances:

The Indie Musician’s Guide to Digital Distribution

Wax On, Wax Off Guide to Starting from Scratch on Twitter

8 Effective Email Marketing Strategies, Backed by Science

The 7 Biggest, Counterintuitive Social Media Mistakes You May be Making

The Ultimate Guide to Band Merchandise

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The Art of the Niche Music Video

I had the pleasure of working with Matthew Myers on the soon-to-be-released Just Dance Kids 3 video game. As I got to know him and his music, I was blown away by the response to his highly targeted YouTube videos. This recent comment from darksilver1200 sums it up perfectly:

“I feel sorry for all NON-otaku fans. They just don’t understand what it means to love anime and gaming with every fiber of your entire being and soul. I on the other hand, am a full blood otaku through and through. I love all anime, games, and others of this sort. LeetStreet boys, actually, if you listen to the lyrics of the song, have meaning deep down in the otaku heart.”

I’m a gamer and anime fan myself, yet half of the references are over my head! I asked Matt if he would be so kind as to explain how he pulls this stuff off, and the result is this guest post. -Brian.

Making music videos has changed my life. In 2007, I wrote a catchy song about my love of anime and video game fandom. I hired a freelance animator and the music video we created for “Yuri The Only One” was a runaway hit in 2008. It has since garnered over 1.5 million YouTube views, been played at festivals worldwide, enabled my band to headline events across North America as a musical guest, sold out of an album print run, and generated tens of thousands of digital sales.

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"Set it and forget it" music promotion