Sites & Services

Final Thoughts on OurStage

OurStage

My heartfelt thanks once more to everyone who supported me in the finals at OurStage! Now that I’ve been through the entire process from song submission through final judging, I’ve got some suggestions for the site. Its stated goals are noble, but the execution is seriously lacking.

Before that, I want to share the full extent of my GOTV (“get out the vote”) effort. I knew that my friends, family, and a good number of die-hard fans would pour their hearts into it, so I owed it to them to do everything I could to win, within the scope of the rules.

After I’d been #1 in the semi-finals for a day and a half, I drew up a plan for the finals. I risked wasting a few hours of my time, but since the finals only last 24 hours, it was imperative to start ASAP. I roughed out my call to action, prepared a handful of crucial e-mails, and sequenced my task list to maximize its effectiveness. When the semi-finals ended with my song still on top, I started spreading the word.

  • Passive Promotion – Rather than laying out the details in every web posting, e-mail, and phone call, I directed everyone to a blog post, which I updated throughout the day as I refined my strategy.
  • Mailing List – The 540 fans on my Color Theory mailing list received the initial call to action with time to spare, but ReverbNation didn’t distribute my two rallying cries, which I sent at seven and three hours before the end of the contest, until it was too late.
  • Twitter – I’ve only been using Twitter for two months, so I’ve only got 50 followers. My tweets are set to automatically update my status at…
  • Facebook – I incessantly nagged my 484 friends on Facebook, some of who are also on my mailing list. I created an event called Help Brian Hazard catch a HUGE break today! and invited them all. I sent four messages to all invitees over the course of the contest, including the two rallying cries which didn’t get to my mailing list in time.
  • thesixtyone – I’ve got 320 “listeners” and am a member of the largest group of electronic music fans on this fantastic site, which I’ll write more about soon. I posted two announcements each on my personal profile, my band profile, and the group page.
  • Side-Line – A gigantic thank you to Bernard Van Isacker of Side-Line for posting my call to action as a news item. The magazine and web site are the top source for news on genres ranging from synthpop to gothic to industrial, with tens of thousands of readers. As of this morning, my news item has been read by 1,400 visitors to the site, and also went out as an e-mail, RSS feed, tweet, etc.
  • A Different Drum – Thanks also to my good friend Todd Durrant, owner of the biggest synthpop label and store A Different Drum, who forwarded the call to action to his mailing list of 2,055.
  • Section 44 – Still more thanks to Steven Cochran and Randall Erkelens of Section 44, a synthpop label hosting a popular forum. They forwarded the call to action as an e-mail to every forum member.
  • Yahoo Groups! – I posted to a couple synthpop groups with a thousand or so members each. There’s a lot of cross-membership between the groups I’ve listed, so I didn’t reach as many people as simple addition might suggest.
  • E-mails and phone calls – Nobody was safe from my desperate pleas. Beyond friends and family, I went far outside my comfort zone in asking for help from the Obama folks I canvassed in Nevada with, and even the other dads in Indian Guides! Still, it was easier than knocking on strangers’ doors in sketchy Vegas suburb trailer parks. I kept calling throughout the evening to get more people onboard, because the song kept bouncing in and out of the top slot until the very end.

Even though we generated a massive amount of support, OurStage is designed to be more than just a popularity contest. I can appreciate that, but they’ve got a lot of work to do if they want to do it right.

First off, 1,128 battles. Really? The semi-finals allowed you to judge 45 battles over two days, which was just right. Even listening to a good portion of each song, it only took an hour max. The quarter-finals allowed 190 battles over four days, which is a bit much, but I didn’t ask anyone for help at that stage of the competition. If I had known going into the finals that 1,128 battles would be allowed over 24 hours, I wouldn’t have told anyone about it. Judging stops being fun after a half hour, and once you’ve heard all the songs, it becomes a data entry chore. Plugging away for hours on end is simply too much to ask of anyone, but I continued to do so because we’d already come so far, and others were forging ahead without any prodding on my part. Many of us did the full number, which was excruciatingly mind-numbing. The system is just begging to be automated, as I’m sure more technically savvy competitors have done.

So did my 1,128 rounds of judging carry more weight than 100 rounds of judging from 11 other people? If so, is that fair? If not, and my continued judging provides diminishing returns, why not cut it off sooner? The bottom-line shareholder goal of OurStage is to get people to their site, right? At first I was happy to help them achieve that goal, and would be willing to do it again if the expectations were reasonable. As it stands, if I make it to the finals again, you won’t hear about it from me. And if the fans don’t come, where’s the exposure for the songs? What remains is a bunch of musicians competing against each other for cash. We don’t need another GarageBand, which was long ago spoiled by a competitive zero-sum mindset.

Next on my hit list is the “current standings.” Throughout the course of the contest, the lowest ranked songs jumped to the top and vice-versa. It’s understandable toward the beginning of the contest, when the ranking engine has little to go on. But at seven hours before the end of the contest, my song was #1 for over two hours, when out of nowhere it jumped to #45. Then an hour and a half before the end, it jumped back to #1 again for a half hour, when it got knocked down to #20 in the final stretch. How is that even possible? Either the current standings are useless, or the ranking algorithm is flawed.

My guess is the latter. It’s clear to me that the other musicians actively vote against the #1 song. Since mine was there for a relatively long time, it accumulated a barrage of negative votes. When the standings finally updated, it fell hard. Then when it was clearly not a threat, it snuck back up. OurStage claims that their algorithms prevent musicians from voting themselves up, but clearly they don’t stop them from voting others down. Either way, the results are skewed.

Finally, non-mainstream genres aren’t competitive. The top 10 songs could all comfortably fit into a single radio format. It’s all stuff I’d hear at the gym. Since some genres are inherently more popular than others, does it make sense to pit them against each other? Furthermore, the web site demographics are clearly unrepresentative of the general population, or hip-hop would have a chance. As it stands, if your song isn’t centered around vocals and guitar, good luck!

There are way too many categories. Can you name 48 genres off the top of your head? Me neither. Do we really need separate categories for male and female singer-songwriter, country and “alt country,” and indie pop versus indie rock? Cutting the number of categories in half would have the side benefit of reducing the max number of battles in the finals.

In closing, OurStage has a lot going for it, but a lot of room for improvement. I’m humbled by the enormous effort that friends, family, and fans put behind me and my song.

You Might Also Like

39 Comments

  • Reply
    Mark
    February 1, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I’m also curious how good their “random” algorithm for selecting pairs is. I managed to vote slightly over 800 times before the tedium forced me away from my computer… I should have seen each song roughly 800 / (48 / 2) or 33 times. I find it interesting that I came across your song only 12 times… roughly a third of how often it should have. (I wish I had tracked the number of times other songs turned up. There were a couple that I saw A LOT… and strangely enough they both ended up in the top 5.)

    I think OurStage has a noble ambition… and I definitely understand that the creation of an un-game-able algorithm would be incredibly difficult. It’s hard not to feel cheated (and no way to know if you really have been).

    Well, if nothing else, at least this experience has shown how many of us appreciate you and your music! Keep up the good work. We hope a better opportunity arises soon for you.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    February 2, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Thanks Mark! What a monumental chore. It does seem odd that my song came up only a dozen times. That’s pretty far outside the bell curve, unless our reasoning is faulty.

    Judging from Google Analytics, I had about 500 more unique visitors than normal on the day of the finals. My very rough guesstimate is that my “call to action” was read by 2000 people, 25% of who clicked on the link. Not bad!

  • Reply
    Brian
    March 11, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Hi,

    I just wanted to weigh in as the OurStage Community team, even though this is an older post. We always appreciate having the opportunity to explain or discuss what’s going on with our website. Regarding the randomness and size of the channel during Finals:
    The number of battles is dependent on the number of entries in the channel. Each song is judged exactly once against every other song. In your case, there were 48 regular Music channels, and so every song is involved in 47 battles, creating the total of 1,128 battles to completely battle out Finals. Everyone has the exact same set of battles to do as a result, but they are presented in a random order. That way, a fan who comes to OurStage to judge in Finals cannot just judge for their friend’s band and then leave. They need to listen to all of the music in the channel, and we have found that they then vote honestly. Someone who’s listened to a few of the other songs on OurStage during the Finals cannot help but vote on which songs they think are the best. That way, we get more votes in the system about what songs are the best.

    It sounds like Mark (above) just had bad luck in that he hadn’t seen your song as many times as you might expect at that point in the battling. If he had kept going though, he would have soon seen your song coming up very frequently as randomness evened out.

    We are aware of the concerns regarding the size of the channel, the wide variety of genres represented, and what it feels like to try and judge rap vs acoustic, or death metal against pop. We are discussing this and possible solutions with our on-site community of artists and fans, and amongst the OurStage staff. In the future, we may segment Finals into several Finals channels depending on overall genre, or other criteria. This is far from decided though and we appreciate all feedback.

    Best,

    Brian Whalley
    Director of Community
    OurStage.com

  • Reply
    Cendrine
    July 18, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Ourstage is a joke. Why? Read below…

    I do not usually do that, but this time I think it is too important to be disregarded.

    Who do they think they are at Ourstage? First, they remove the Spoken Word category. Then, what happens? Those artists are forced to enter their tracks in other categories. When they start ranking well, the songs are automatically removed. This is the usual email that staff send:

    “Hi XXX,

    We have received several messages from OurStage Fans who say that your song ‘XXXX’ doesn’t belong in the XXXXX channel. We reviewed your song and our definition of the channel (http://www.ourstage.com/about/faqs), and it doesn’t belong there. As a result, we have removed your song from competition in our XXXX channel.

    You are welcome to find a more appropriate channel for this song, or to submit a new song which fits the channel description more closely. Feel free to write us back if you have any questions or concerns.

    Everest, Karl Community Manager E: everest@ourstage.com OurStage.com”

    This has happened to me twice this week. Every time, I was in the top 50 (out of 200-300 entries!) of the category. And every time, I received the same e-mail and my track was removed without warning.

    I talked to a few Spoken Word artists, and the same thing has happened to them. Why is that? I will tell you.

    Ourstage is a money-hungry website that uses hypocritical ideas to get publicity. They want to help independent artists and save the world from mediocre music. Give me a break. We have complained countless times about rappers and other musicians spamming our channel with tracks that did not belong to the Spoken Word category. Nothing was done, no track was ever removed. Instead, our channel was removed with no warning.

    Ourstage, it is time you stopped disrespecting artists. Either you give a chance to all of us or you change your policy. Yes, we have no money to give you, but we work hard to upload tracks that will bring traffic to your website. You get publicity from it, while not even being grateful for our hard work.

    Let’s stop this nonsense right now. It is ridiculous!

  • Reply
    Cendrine
    July 18, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Once, I spent four hours judging tracks in my channel (which does not exist anymore, because it was deleted), and my track appeared 4 times. Meanwhile I had to vote 15 times for the same songs. How do you explain that? Some of the best independent artists are on ourstage and some of their tracks show up twice in two hours. Some other artists’ songs show up 15 times. No algorithm, just basic preferences from staff at ourstage.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    July 18, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I understand your frustration Cendrine, but I highly doubt that the staff are imposing their own preferences, unless of course they have really bad taste! I’m sure you’ve seen from your judging that the best tracks rarely make it to the top, arguably because other musicians vote them down. During the finals, many people said they barely saw my track came up, while others said it came up all the time. If you judge the max number of rounds, it will come up exactly the number of times that the math dictates.

  • Reply
    Steve Winter
    October 25, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Please help us spread the word about the corruption at Ourstage and what they did to WinterBand
    http://www.winterband.com/Ourstage.html

    Blatant religious discrimination and anti-Christian censorship

    AOL’s Ourstage has deleted the WinterBand fan page on behalf of a handful of people who don’t like what we teach and filed frivolous “complaints”

    This is NOT ABOUT RELIGION. This is about corruption and/or incompetent Ourstage staff going along with some people who didn’t like us and removing an established competitive band without cause.

    Details and documentation are available at:

    http://www.ourstage.ws or http://www.winterband.com/Ourstage.html

    What has happened is outrageous religious censorship and discrimination.
    Whether you love us or hate us consider the precedent that this situation establishes.

    If anyone you know is investing time and effort building a presence and network of connections on Ourstage you owe it to them to make them aware of what is going on.

    Bro Steve Winter

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 26, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Steve, I’m going to let these WinterBand comments stand, even though you’ve posted them on more than one article here. Like I said before, until you show us what was on your profile, I have no reason to doubt that it was removed for valid reasons. Maybe it’s just me, but the fact that you would go through the trouble to purchase the “ourstage.ws” domain is a little bit frightening. The page you link to is heavy on inflammatory rhetoric and light on facts. Show us what they censored and let us make up our own minds.

    I’ve often been accused of being too “literal,” but two of your statements strike me as conflicting:

    1. This is NOT ABOUT RELIGION.
    2. What has happened is outrageous religious censorship and discrimination.

    Fwiw, this campaign of yours violates their terms of service in several ways: http://www.ourstage.com/about/terms

    One obvious one: You agree not to download, display or use any OurStage Content in any other manner […] that disparages or discredits OurStage and/or its licensors.

  • Reply
    Steve Winter
    October 26, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Thank you, Brian, but keep in mind the length of time that we were on Ourstage and the fact that we even WON sometimes.

    Also keep in mind what Ourstage DOES ALLOW which includes abuse against women, some really bloody obscene stuff by Satanic groups and blatant profanity by some RAP groups.

    Since they deleted our page without notice or warning, there is no way we can prove much except that we were active there for years. This so blind sided us that I had never thought to take screen shots of our fan page which had well over a hundred friends and fans along with various awards from Ourstage.

    We did not violate their terms of service or they would have some specifics. Now I am simply publishing evidence. It would be great to sue them and then find out who all was behind this.

    And yes, it was sweet finding ourstage.ws just sitting there available.

    Regards,

    Bro. winter http://www.winterband.com/Ourstage.html

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 26, 2009 at 8:58 am

    If you violated their TOS, I don’t see how it matters how long you were there or whether you won or not.

    I Googled “ourstage.com/winterband” and looked at the cache. I believe I discovered the problem:

    Did you know that Bro. Steve Winter is a Christian Bible teacher?
    Learn basic truths from the Bible for yourself.

    And then there’s a broken link to a video, which I’m assuming they no longer wish to host. My guess is that teaching “truths from the Bible” is not part of OurStage’s mission, and IMHO they had every right to remove it. I might go so far as to say they were obligated to remove it.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 26, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Oh wait – the embedded video still works. It’s also on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJzu78hVQvY

    “Hello again. This is Brother Steve Winter with another Bible study. Now there’s a lot of debate this hour regarding speaking in tongues…”

    This clearly has NO place on OurStage or any other music site, and I’m shocked that you’d go to such lengths to convince people otherwise. Furthermore, you’re selling a DVD set of said Bible studies, so your posting them could be seen as commercial.

  • Reply
    Steve Winter
    October 26, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I did not violate their TOS. They are liars! Many groups have many links, embeds, photos etc. on their fan pages.

    The link that you are referring was to an embed of a menu of the videos at http://www.youtube.com/BroSteveWinter

    At no time was I asked to remove any content from my fan site by Ourstage. Many bands have links to their personal sites.

    What happened here is that a group of people managed to convince some staff and management at Ourstage to throw their integrity into the sewer and along with it the integrity of Ourstage.

    You seem to be missing the point of how much truly offensive material is allowed and even encouraged at Ourstage. I am not suggesting that they do not have the power to remove anything they wish for whatever they wish. My point is that I have a right to whine about it and thereby warn others. They may have violated some civil laws but I am still researching that.

    We had quite a few fans, friends and supporters who know full well that there was nothing remotely offensive on the site, except perhaps for false-christians who I believe were behind the campaign to censor us.

    The fact that any group of people can have a valid, competitive band removed from Ourstage just because they don’t agree with them is newsworthy and says much about Ourstage unprofessionalism and corruption.

    Thank you for the tip about the cached web pages. I now have screen shots and a saved page to add to our webiite.

    Regards,

    Bro. Winter http://www.winterband.com

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 26, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I respectfully disagree. OurStage was forced to remove that content, in order to maintain their integrity and professionalism. Offensive or no, I’ve never seen anything so completely off-topic on the site.

  • Reply
    Steve Winter
    October 26, 2009 at 11:23 am

    On topic or off topic is totally irrelevant. There is no such thing as “off topic” on a band fan page. It is for whatever the band wishes to reveal about themselves or whatever political or religious or otherwise opinion they have.

    People have all sorts of links to all sorts of personal websites on their fan sites. It is a page for a band to promote anything about themselves to their fans.

    You are really missing the point. People are allowed to put anything about themselves on their fan sites. The IDEA is to put stuff about yourself. Most of our songs have a Biblical theme. We are a Christian band. Ourstage even has a Christian music channel.

    Are you suggesting that the Satanic bands should not be allowed to have Satanic symbols on their fan pages? Or do you think that RAP groups should not be allowed to show scenes of women being abused or not be allowed to have pictures of guns?

    I believe that Ourstage has thrown what integrity and professionalism they had left.

    I have updated the website with screen shots of the cached pages you found on Google. May God bless you for sharing that!

    Bro Winter http://www.winterband.com/Ourstage.html

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 26, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I guess we’ve both said our piece. Anyone who is interested can read your page, watch the video, and even read the TOS and decide for themselves if that stuff belongs on OurStage.

    Speaking of the TOS, it also states:

    User Termination/No Ownership: You understand and agree that you have no ownership rights in your account or other access to the Site or features therein. OurStage may cancel your Account and delete all Submitted Content associated with your Account at any time, and without notice, if OurStage deems that you have violated these Terms, the Submission Rules, the law, or for any other reason. OurStage assumes no liability for any information removed from our Site, and reserves the right to permanently restrict access to the Site or a user Account.

  • Reply
    Cameron Steele
    December 13, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Brian,

    Thanks for the article. It’s unfortunate that you and your supporters had to go through a process that tedious. Just hearing the process described to me keeps me and my unloyal followers from visiting the website.

    Seems like, even if they figure out the issue with voting the top player down, we tend to overestimate how many people are THAT connected to the internet, and I imagine a pretty specific set of qualities will begin to win as the “call to action” becomes less effective or morally repugnant.

    The people who hate the site leave and the people who have the type of personality required to be able to enjoy sitting through something like that will vote up the songs that that type of person will like.

    In case anyone was wondering if Steve had any sort of case, a quick glance at his website reveals more than just a very strong and potentially unrational dedication to Christianity; I was reading text like “the dangers of Islam” in some of their song titles.

    I was fired not too long ago as an internet marketer (though I’d like to attribute that to finding pot before I would to being a bad marketer), but I’ve heard links to shady sites can actually harm your SEO, and I don’t imagine hardcore religion-screamers are hard to flag for Google based on keywords. There’s a lot of debate about whether inbound links do anything, and even outbound links probably aren’t worth much/anything since the rise of social networking, just thought I’d throw that out there – I’m not so worried about people finding the page and converting to extremism (maybe when it gets a better web design).

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    December 13, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Thanks Cameron! Sorry to hear about your job loss/pot habit ;). Hopefully something bigger and better is on the horizon for you.

    Funny, I got an email the other day from a fan who said he listens to my music every day on OurStage. I decided to check in, since I hadn’t visited the site in a long time, only to find my song hovering in the 50s of my category. So perhaps the site has some value to artists beyond the game, which gets old fast.

  • Reply
    Randy Young
    April 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Hey Brian – I just had my first experience with ourstage – we are currently in the Bon Jovi SuperBAND competition and yes – it is causing nothing but frustration for our most loyal fans.

    We are three days in and I will not burn out my fanbase over this. They mean too much to us.

    I think the concept is good – maybe for smaller battles or longer hauls – but for fans of an act that would like to support you in a crunch- many show up to place just one vote and sit through 16 rounds which is 16-20 minutes. Which on the internet – is a lifetime.

    They want to vote in their band – at least on first visit- so they understand the connection between the contest and the band.

    So yes the math may work out – but in reality – leaves confusion and frustration- to the point where we had to do an instructional video to teach people how to vote.

    People are confused as to why they have to sit so long… and yes some two hours – not to mention that the artist list is inconsistent – people were repeatedly unable to favourite the band.

    if you look at the responses on our facebook (http://facebook.com/thesuede) – you’ll see how people feel about the website once they are done – which I don’t think is the intention of anyone in business let alone the people at ourstage.

    Thanks for such a fantastic article and to Brian Whalley (if you subscribed) – maybe simply removing the standings so that people aren’t tempted to vote down other bands – if they don’t know the results – they may vote based solely on the music.

    On the plus side – I have discovered some great new bands in the process – who i saw go from #1 to #50 in a heartbeat.

    We will ride out this contest and I will post my final thoughts etc and the final feedback of our fans.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    April 14, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for your feedback Randy! Sounds like things haven’t changed much in the year and change since I posted this article. I’ve kept my songs on the site, but they haven’t seen much action. I think one got in the semifinals. I almost hope I don’t get to the finals again because I don’t want to impose such a heavy burden on my fanbase.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Lainson
    May 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been trying to figure out the OurStage voting. I’ve been participating in Lilith Fair Denver voting since the beginning of May. I have been voting a lot and although I haven’t kept a tally of which artists turn up most in my voting options, I know I have consistently seen many of the lowest ranked artists far more than the top ranked artists. I’ll see some of them every three or four battles, while there will be top ranked artists I won’t see for days.

    In fact, I’ve gotten so tired of choosing between four poor songs that I’m not voting again until it gets down to the top 20. Then at least I’ll have 20 strong songs to choose from.

    What I have been wondering is if people like me who have been willing to vote a lot are given more of the lower ranks songs so that these songs are voted on as much as the popular songs. In other words, all the top ranked songs attract many people (because these artists have bigger fan bases) who vote a few times and then quit. That means the top ranked songs get lots of votes. The bottom ranked songs are likely to have few built-in fans, so they aren’t being favorited by many people. In order for these songs to get consideration, are they being steered toward people like me who have the patience to keep voting, even though we never see our favorite artists on the selection options anymore? Is the system set up so that some judges will be given the same bottom ranked songs over and over again, while other judges get a more varied mix of songs?

    At any rate, I know that in the last few days I’m seeing the same bottom ranked songs repeatedly. Rarely am I seeing anyone I actually like.

    I don’t think there’s a lot of people voting the top songs down because the top 20 have stayed pretty consistent over the last two weeks.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    May 23, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I totally know the feeling Suzanne, but I believe it really is completely random. The algorithm works through each possible permutation.

    I confess I chuckled when you said “at least I’ll have 20 strong songs to choose from.” That certainly wasn’t my experience! Maybe the quality has gone up, but in my few semifinal placements, all but four or five out of the twenty were clearly amateur productions.

    Let me know if you have any luck cracking the code! To me, OurStage is an example of why crowdsourcing doesn’t work. Or maybe it’s just that artists get to vote, so the skewed voting is simply the result of outright bias.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Lainson
    May 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Although I had sworn not to vote until it came down to the top 20, I tried the head-to-head voting again (I tried it briefly, but spent most of my time doing four at a time) and found I was starting to see better songs again. So maybe that is the key — when you get to a point where every batch of four songs is bad, go back to the head-to-head voting.

    In terms of the quality of the top 20, at least for the Lilith Fair competition for Denver, it’s a good group. While there are some good songs that aren’t currently in the top 20, overall the top 20 songs are better than the bottom 50 songs. There are only about 90 songs in this particular channel, so luckily there aren’t hundreds of bad songs that one has to plow through.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    May 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I should clarify that one of my fans did the math and concluded that it really was random, fwiw.

    I suspect the Lilith Fair channel is higher quality than most. I competed in the electronic channel, also known as the “you don’t actually have to know how to play an instrument” channel. 😉

  • Reply
    Randy Young
    May 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Hey Suzanne and Brian,

    Just thought I’d chime in again on how things went for us in the Bon Jovi Superband contest.

    We ended up finishing first in all three rounds of the Bon Jovi Toronto Contest -winning the channel – but nether us nor the #2 band was chosen to play the 2 shows in Toronto.

    We were well aware that the rules left it open to judging, but I can tell you that the end result has been quite negative from our fans. There is no pre screening for compliance, genre or quality so fans were subject to vote for bands that didn’t even qualify to win. I don’t see a long life for this type of site – I can tell you from feedback that most of our fans would not participate in voting of that nature again.
    On a positive note, we learned that our fans would come out in droves to support us, and they did so with class and integrity. The contest brought out some VERY negative people, and most often it was other bands.

    So, do we regret entering? Are we bitter? No, not at all. We achieved what we set out to achieve – our fans voted us #1. The support was overwhelming.

    Would we do it again? No. Our fans felt robbed in the end, and our responsibility is first and foremost to them at all times.

    We did do a guitar contest – and we are personally delivering the guitar and performing for the winner in her living room – as a thank you for all the support. http://www.cherrysuede.com/News/cherry-suede-guitar-contest-winner-announcement.html

    I hope your experience is much better than ours Suzanne!

    Best of luck!

    Randy

  • Reply
    Suzanne Lainson
    May 23, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I tend to ignore most requests to vote in online contests because I don’t have a vested interest in who wins and I don’t like aggressive campaigns to get me to vote.

    But because I know so many of the women who have entered the Denver Lilith Fair competition and I hadn’t played around with the OurStage site, I have been voting. I’ve wanted to see how the standings would go and wanted to see if I could discern any patterns of influence. Were the best songs and/or the most popular artists rising to the top? Did the standings change much from hour to hour or day to day? And so on.

    This contest has also been run through Facebook, but I don’t use outside Facebook applications, so I have been doing it directly on the site.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    May 24, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Randy, I haven’t read the fine print, but it sounds like you were robbed to me! “Let off on a technicality” perhaps. It’s quite gracious of you to focus on the silver lining – the dedicated efforts of your fans. And quite smart to make lemonade with your new contest. I wish you the best!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Lainson
    May 24, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I think the Lilith Fair judging also leaves the door open for the promoters to pick who they want from the top ten (I don’t remember reading that there would be final round to get it down to the top 3).

  • Reply
    Suzanne Lainson
    May 24, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I was wrong about the voting ending at the top 10.

    There will be two rounds of voting that follow: Quarter Finals (Top 10) and Semi-finals (Top 3). At this point, the public voting closes and Lilith co-founder and main stage headliner Sarah McLachlan, along with co-founders Terry McBride, Marty Diamond and Dan Fraser, in partnership with Kristin Bredimus, music expert from OurStage.com, will determine who the final winner is for each city.

  • Reply
    Randy Young
    May 25, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Hey Guys –
    Brian – thank you – yes we went in with that attitude – and of course we would have loved the show – but we also walk away with a great story. Brian – I have a site (http://artistdevelopmentstrategies.com) I would love to do a 3-4 question interview about your promo efforts if you are interested – you have a great blog!

    Suzanne – they may not be picking from the top 3 – Bon Jovi left it open to top 30 and ourstage i think generally leaves it to top 20 – in the short term – this is safe for the sponsors – but long term – who wants to go to bat for thie favourite band – and not have them win? the main complaint from our fans was along the lines of- “Well why even bother with voting? this contest is a waste of time”

    I’m not here to trash ourstage – the rules are very clear, their support staff was fantastic – it’s just not for us a second time – nor do I believe it would be for many bands – once is enough.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    May 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Suzanne, I have to admit that sounds like a fair system!

    Randy, I’d be delighted to be interviewed! We can do it now, or if you want to wait a couple months, I’ll be diving into promotion again as I launch my new album.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Lainson
    May 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Randy, you might be right. Looking what was published, it didn’t specifically say that the winning band would be picked from the top 3. It appears there will be a vote to determine which artists are the top 3 in each area, but all it says is they “will determine who the final winner is for each city.”

    Theoretically it could be anyone in the competition, not just from the top 3 or the top 10 or the top 20.

  • Reply
    matt
    June 12, 2010 at 11:29 am

    how do i delete my account with them?

  • Reply
    Bro. Steve Winter
    June 12, 2010 at 11:47 am

    @matt, that is another little detail about Ourstage. You can’t remove your material once you put it there. Also I have had some communication with some of their “partners” from their partners page and they didn’t know what I was talking about because their dealings with Ourstage had been so long ago.

    Just do a Google for the phrase “ourstage corruption”

    Regards,

    Bro. Winter

  • Reply
    matt
    June 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    yeah i googled that. sound like a bunch of scumbags.
    so your saying i cant close my account?
    my music is copyrighted. cant i sue?

  • Reply
    Craig
    June 23, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Brian

    My wife Shannon Hawkyard recently spent 3 weeks as the #1 country song in June per the standings. This is her first time trying Ourstage.com and the experience is a little confusing. How does a song spend 3 weeks at #1 but doesn’t make the semi-finals for the month in it’s genre. As of June 2oth she was #1, then it seemed she was #57 and the rankings did not change for 3 days before the semi-finals started. We really like the system and even had over 100 friends on facebook link to her song. What happened?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    June 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Sorry to hear that Craig! I don’t trust the rankings at any point in the month, but most likely very few people vote before the semifinals. It’s probably mostly artists, which makes the rankings extremely volatile. The Facebook friends linking wouldn’t have many any difference in the rankings, unless those friends created accounts, judged, and were lucky enough to see her song come up. Personally, I don’t recommend expending any energy on OurStage other than putting your music up. Beyond that, it may as well be random for all I can tell.

  • Reply
    Banditblack
    July 7, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I’m starting to also think that accounts tend to get flagged for voting too much or something. I know my band member had a song added for the harrell contest and she was #1 for almost 2 weeks. Next she dropped to 6 or 7th place in the top ten and held there for 1 week (Up until that sunday). Come the start of the next work week (Monday) I checked and she dropped from the top 10 to the 89th place. Now of course in the back of my head was “What the…???” and “How in the hell?!!!”

    Her fan base, and including myself, tried to vote her back into the top 50 running at least numerous times. We get her up in the top 50 then suddenly in a blink of an eye (more so like the next day) she’s back in the 80’s or 90’s rankings.

    After the frustration I simply took her song out of the competition, and just for kicks put it in another channel to the same contest where she started in 85th place. None of her fans voted, not even I, but some how after a few weeks her song then shot up to the top to 50, then 30, then held in the top 20s amongst the 200+ that was currently ranked.

    Now I’m happy to the fact she made it to the next round which now leaves the judging solely to the celebs in person to decide who goes further on in the comp after the artis/band performs live in front of them. I’m still left with the frustration and bad experience of ourstage and it voting process.

    So that left me with the thought of what you previously mentioned. Just add your song and don’t waste your time, or your fans time, voting. Treat it like getting a lotto ticket.

    Just my 2 cents.

    -Bandit

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    July 8, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Most of the frustration seems to be caused by volatile ranking. It could be that the underlying scoring mechanism is just fine, but if they’d just make the rankings a little more stable, or update a little more often, it would go a long way to ease perceptions.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    July 27, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Just noticed a new “favorite artist” feature:

    Is this your favorite artist?
    By declaring Color Theory to be your favorite artist, you guarantee that they will come up during judging at least once per day in the first twenty battles that you judge in any contest they are entered in.

    I guess that could tone down the frustration level.

  • Share Your Thoughts