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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Make Space for Tight Bass

The bass and kick are the foundation of your mix, and we want them to utterly dominate the lowest frequencies. I’m going to show you how to use a frequency analyzer to cut excess lows from every track in your mix, leaving clear, tight, punchy bass.

Configure SPAN

My favorite frequency analyzer is Voxengo SPAN. It’s free on both Mac and Windows, so grab it! Once it’s installed, load it on the master bus. Place the GUI where it won’t get covered up, or set it to “always on top.”

There are three settings we need to adjust, by clicking the “edit” button in the upper right corner:

SPAN Configuration

Block Size – The higher the number, the more accuracy in the lowest frequencies, but the slower the refresh rate. 8192 is the best compromise on my system.

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The Definitive Album Release Checklist

Your album is mixed and mastered, finally! You’ve got cover art and maybe even replication lined up. Now what?

This is the question I was hired to answer. Specifically, I was asked to create a to-do list for a band’s debut album. They were generous enough to allow me to share it with you.

Keep in mind that all this stuff comes before the actual promotion. We’re simply laying the groundwork here.

Register your .com domain

If yourbandname.com isn’t available, choose another band name. No joke! Owning your domain is HUGE.

Trademark your band name

I hired Gerben Law Firm, and the entire process was a breeze. Josh conducts a comprehensive search, which will turn up any competing marks.

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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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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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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 ArtistLink

ArtistLink started as an extension of the Topspin Media platform, so that non-Topspin users could add content to the MTV Artists site. It’s well on its way to becoming the control panel for the music industry.

I encourage any artist with a release on Spotify to sign up for ArtistLink. All essential functionality is free.

UPDATE 12/17/14: Spotify promotions through ArtistLink are no more. If you want to sell through Spotify, you’ll have to do it through BandPage.

As of this writing, ArtistLink is basically four services rolled up into one. I’ll go over each, starting with the coolest.

Spotify

If you take a look at my Spotify profile on the desktop app or web player, you’ll see I’m selling stuff! Right there on Spotify! For free! Spotify doesn’t take a cut.

Spotify merch

Even better, I’m selling from my own site!

spotify_popup

You can add up to three promotions, directing each to the URL of your choice. For now, they only appear on the desktop app and web player – not the mobile apps.

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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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