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ReverbNation’s New Crowd Review, Reviewed

ReverbNation Crowd Review

Which of my unreleased songs will people like? I have no idea. Friends and family aren’t much help either.

Fortunately, I’m able to get unbiased feedback from fans of my genre through ReverbNation’s Crowd Review, which has been completely overhauled since ReverbNation’s acquisition of Audiokite last November.

To call this market research simply “helpful” would be a gross understatement. My last report precipitated a complete overhaul of not just my marketing plan, but my entire album concept.

I’d been in the process of setting up collaborations with some of the better-known synthwave artists. My plan was to put together a bunch of song demos with finished vocals, and have them redo the underlying instrumentals in their own style.

Problem was, I didn’t have any collaborations locked down yet, and I needed material to release on my newly launched Patreon page. That got me wondering what I could do to spruce up one of my demos for release to my patrons. Enter Crowd Review.

To my surprise, the demo — vocals over a drum loop plus four synth tracks — scored the highest by far out of a dozen previous submissions. It ranked in the 89th percentile of all songs analyzed by Crowd Review. 74% of listeners said they would want to hear the song again, versus a 33% average across the platform.

As a result, it was forwarded to ReverbNation’s curation team. I’ll let you know if anything comes of it!

ReverbNation Curation Team email

But the real shocker is, it ranked in the 100th percentile for production quality. A demo!

As a direct result of this feedback, I released the song to my patrons virtually as-is. I’m planning to invest a decent chunk of change in a Feature.fm campaign to promote it (and share the results with you). If all goes well, I may just drop the collaboration angle entirely and continue recording songs in the stripped-down style of the demo.

So yeah, helpful.

Pricing

Reviews are currently priced at $0.49 per listener, from $12.25 for a 25-listener report all the way up to $245 for a 500-listener report.

You can also add “advanced insights” for $0.15 per listener each, and get your report in one business day for $0.35 per listener.

You can get 10% off and support the site by using coupon code: AK-PASSIVEPROMOTION

Crowd Review Advanced Insights

Standard Insight

Standard Insight is included in all reports, and kicks off with an overall rating and a concise written summary of what listeners thought of the song. It also tells you:

  • How the song rates against others, both overall and in the same genre
  • The distribution of ratings (was it mostly 1s and 10s, or do they clump around the average?)
  • Whether the comments were positive, neutral, or negative
  • Whether or not listeners would want to hear the song again

I won’t go over every metric, but if you’re so inclined, you can download my full report as a PDF here.

Songwriting Analysis

Songwriting Analysis 1

The first of the four advanced insights modules, Songwriting Analysis covers both the song itself and the performance, including:

  • What well-known artist the song reminds reviewers of
  • How the song makes them feel
  • The appropriate genre for the song
  • Whether the lyrics fit the music

And my favorite, a little spider web of the individual song component ratings:

song components

What I find most useful is that, with the exception of “Artist Name,” these are all things you can go back and fix. Unless your song is already released, why not address the weak areas and resubmit?

Audience Identification

Audience Identification

Audience Identification provides key information on listener preferences. Are they cat people or dog people? More to the point:

  • Where in the US do listeners who like your song live?
  • How do they listen to music?
  • How many concerts do they attend per year?
  • What is their ethnicity?
  • What subgenres do they like? (my music seems to resonate with Christian Rockers)
  • What is their age and gender?

All useful information for everything from planning a tour to advertising on Facebook.

Production Quality

Production Quality

Production Quality covers the track’s sonic qualities and more, including:

  • How engaged were listeners?
  • Does your song make them want to dance?
  • What sound qualities (deep, punchy, muffled, etc) do listeners associate with your track?
  • Is it ready for radio?
  • How loud is it compared to other songs on the radio?

It also tells you what type of system (headphones, laptop speakers, etc) reviewers are listening on. 50% of mine were on high-quality headphones, and 23% on high-quality speakers, so the majority are in a good position to actually judge sound quality.

Commercial Potential

Commercial Potential

Can your track actually make you money? Commercial Potential has the answers:

  • How likely are listeners to purchase or stream your song, or seek out more of them?
  • How likely would they be to attend your live show if you were playing in their area?
  • Which TV/film genres do they like, and which do they associate with your song?
  • What press outlets could they imagine reading about it in?
  • Do you have a hit on your hands?

While the summary for my song is rather discouraging, the actual data looks promising! The track beat the average for both “very likely to purchase” (16% vs 13%) and “very likely to stream” (23% vs 13%). To put an even better spin on it, 76% of listeners were at least “somewhat likely” to stream the song on a streaming service.

Reviews

Every listener is required to write a review. I counted, and yep, there are 100. Surprisingly, none of them are generic or vague. It’s obvious that every reviewer actually listened to the song. Even the mean ones were insightful:

Reviews are color coded red for negative (1-4 rating) and green for neutral or positive (5-10). You can sort by rating, listener age, or comment length. If you click the down arrow, you can see the reviewer’s full responses (truncated in the screenshot below):

It’s gratifying when someone really gets what you’re trying to say:

Conclusion

Crowd Review is hands-down the best market research for musicians yet.

It’s everything that Audiokite was and more.

My impression is based on not just one report, but also on another rather lukewarm 200-listener report on this admittedly quirky song (download the full PDF here):

Crowd Review is, at least for now, the only game in town. SoundOut, which fared poorly in my review here and my more recent comparison shootout here, closed up shop and is now only available through TuneCore’s Fan Review.

There is one addition I’d like to see to Crowd Review: how do listeners rate the well-known artist they think I sound like?

In other words, if they say I sound like A Flock of Seagulls, what do they think of A Flock of Seagulls? If they hate the band, I can’t reasonably expect them to like my track, so I’ll take their feedback with a grain of salt.

I also wonder if it might be possible to restrict the reviewer pool based on demographics, to target, say, males 35-54. Or better yet, males 35-54 who primarily listen on Spotify, live in California, and prefer sci-fi.

In other words, what do people who look like my super fans, or like me, think? That would be some precious intel.

Have you tried the new Crowd Review? Share your experience in the comments!

Crowd Review banner

If you’d like to hear more of my promotional escapades, be sure to subscribe to my How I’m Promoting My Music This Month email newsletter.

Better yet, join me on Patreon for a behind-the-scenes look at my creative process and promotional efforts!

Are you looking to sell your music on iTunes, Spotify, and other digital stores? Distribute your music with industry leader TuneCore, while keeping 100% of your rights and royalties. Learn how you can get started and receive 25% off your first single or album here.

14 Comments

  • Reply
    Ricky Sax
    January 13, 2018 at 1:51 am

    Thanks Brian for a great review. I was excited enough to sign up almost immediately but was brought to an abrupt halt when I read the T&C’s which I strongly suggest your readers do also.

    Warning: I, like most people, usually skip the terms/conditions/privacy side of services on the assumption that they would be reasonably fair and accept that, with social media (for instance), what choice do I have anyway! But when it comes to your own creative output and ownership and control thereof its a different matter entirely.

    Having flicked through a very long (they have linked sub headings) T@C page/s a number of pretty scary items caught my eye;

    They ask you to sign away a number of natural copyright rights including.

    Royalty’s – Publishing/mechanical

    Rights to create derivative works

    Applicable everywhere in the “universe”

    Applicable in perpetuity even after you have left the service ( they have your song/s)

    I am no longer going to use this service as this reads more like a record contract (albeit one sided) and seems a bit much for the services for which it is intended. I do not feel inclined to spend hours analysing this legal document but to me it does not seem fair and reasonable.

    Maybe it’s just me being paranoid (again) Ricky Sax https://soundcloud.com/rickysax

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      January 16, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      Thanks for letting me know Ricky!

      That does sound scary, and I of course skip the T&Cs, in part just because I trust Alex and the guys at ReverbNation after so many years.

      Regardless of what rights you’re technically signing away, I can’t imagine what they would actually use our music for beyond gathering reviews.

      My guess is it’s sort of a boilerplate license, that wasn’t worth paying the lawyers extra for to narrow down to an appropriate scope.

  • Reply
    prebenfrenning
    April 9, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Been very curious about this for some time, but it seems like I’ll have to try it out now. Thanks for the quality review =)

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      April 9, 2018 at 10:32 am

      My pleasure! I use it every month for every new song.

  • Reply
    stuartjameswrightmusic
    June 22, 2018 at 6:38 am

    Very comprehensive review Brian. Thank-you for this. I’m an old AudioKite users and I’ve just ordered up my first review through RN.

  • Reply
    Louis Ponce
    August 2, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Hello Brian, thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve been looking for a service like this for quite a while so I was really curious to try it out which I did it a couple of weeks ago, I went with the lowest tier of 25 reviews. It took about a week for the result to appear and I was really glad getting a total average of 8.0 which also granted me a crowd pick slot. The reviews seemed legit as far as I could tell. Reading through their comments I could clearly see people actually listened to the track so based on that I can really recommend the service.

    I have one question. Assuming that you got a crowd pick, did it give you any significant amount of listeners anywhere else like on Spotify or Apple Music? Or perhaps more traffic of any kind or another benefit? My slot is scheduled to January 2019 so I was curious about what to expect from it. I would also like to add that I wasn’t a previous user of ReverbNation and I haven’t done much more than sending the track for review.

    Thanks again for a very informative blog, keep it up!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      August 3, 2018 at 8:32 am

      Congratulations on a great song, and a great question!

      I was a featured artist beginning July 24, and looking at my ReverbNation play stats, I had 8 plays that day, versus just a couple of plays most days before that. Afterwards, maybe a few plays a day.

      So for me it was negligible.

      I mean, it’s a cool idea to promote both the artist and ReverbNation, assuming the artist brags about the feature on socials. But I didn’t bother. In my experience, ReverbNation is mostly other musicians, and not the best place to try to pick up new fans.

  • Reply
    Stanfield Major
    January 24, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Brian… I’d like to alert you to the fact that there’s a new kid in town regarding crowd sourced reviews… you might want to check this out… https://drooble.com/reviews

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      January 25, 2019 at 9:56 am

      Thanks Stanfield! I actually had a pretty in-depth conversation with the Drooble team over email, and they interviewed me for their blog. They mentioned their Reviews Marketplace, but I thought it was just individual people trading reviews. I’ll take another look!

  • Reply
    David
    February 7, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    I just used Reverbnation for a crowd review and I think it was somewhat helpful (depends a bit on a question I’ve got at the end). I bought 50 reviews plus paid extra for a “production”-specific report ($25 + $12.50). My music’s pretty niche-y so I didn’t really care about the reviews – many were quite positive, some were fairly negative. Again, I found this part completely irrelevant (I wouldn’t have paid for that part of the service but for the fact that you have no choice) – my guess would be that 5 reviewers, at most, would fall anywhere close to my target audience. What I really cared about was the production comments – specifically, how is the tonal balance of the song – is there too much high end, low end, loudness, etc. This is where I don’t fully trust my ears. And where I don’t fully trust any one person’s opinion. The song is a work-in-progress from a mixing standpoint. [Brian was very helpful in pointing out that my original mix was horrific – it was! – from a tonal balance standpoint.] I’ve fixed a lot of those issues by educating myself on all of the truly silly things I was doing wrong, and posting updated versions on a home recording website’s forum to get (free) input from knowledgeable folks on how to improve it incrementally, which has been really helpful. But I digress. So, I figured the mix was ready for an interim crowd review. The overall production quality and “radio readiness” were both (rated) at 50%, which means right in the middle of all of the songs that get reviewed. (Not surprising, really – actually, a bit more positive than I expected.) But, given that 50% rating, I was somewhat surprised with the responses to: “Compared to songs you hear on the radio, how does the sound quality of this song compare in general?” 74% said “same”, 12% said “higher”, and 14% said “lower.” So, there’s a fairly considerable inconsistency here: How can your “radio readiness” score be 50%, while 86% of these same reviewers are saying your song is at least the same or better than a typical song you’d hear on the radio in terms of production quality? So, I’m not sure how to interpret these two findings – they should be much closer together (if not almost the same).

    So, to my real question… what is the profile of the average reviewer on Reverbnation? Generic music listener? Songwriter/musician? Non-music fan just trying to make a few nickels? Mix of all three? Knowing this makes a big difference in how you interpret the results.

    I would use RN again, I just wish I didn’t have to pay for the general reviews which, for my purposes, are meaningless. And it would be nice to know the typical profile of the reviewers.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 7, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience David!

      Personally, I wouldn’t trust production comments from Crowd Review listeners. As you’ve noted, the feedback ambiguous at best.

      I believe they use Amazon Mechanical Turk, so you’re getting generic music listeners out to make a few pennies — NOT ReverbNation users.

      Right now I’m testing Drooble Review Marketplace, where actual musicians review your tracks. Unless something goes terribly wrong, I’ll write about it soon.

      So far their production advice has been all over the place. The difference is, they offer very specific technical suggestions. Some clearly don’t know what they’re talking about, but others are helpful or at least interesting.

  • Reply
    David
    February 7, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    Oh, good, I’m trying Drooble too, so I’ll let you know how that goes as well. Interestingly, if anything, the fact that Drooble reviewers are musicians makes me less likely to consider the results. Still, I’m curious, so I’ll see what they have to say. [Unfortunately, after I paid for the review and did research inside the site, I discovered that the likelihood of a single reviewer being even remotely familiar with my genre of music is roughly zero. So, this will likely be a one-and-done.]

    The average music buyer/listener is not a musician/engineer; in fact, only a very small percentage know anything meaningful about the technical side of the business. So, the musicians’ views might be interesting, but… they don’t really matter that much – they’re not representative of your target audience. In my view, the most valuable comments you’re going to get regarding your production are from the “average” listener – someone who doesn’t know or care about how the song was made.

    Although the production comments from RN are… questionable… at least it gives you some idea of where the production stands. In my case, knowing that somewhere between 50% and 84% thought the production was in the vicinity of radio-quality (even if it’s not!) is helpful information… even if it’s murky and incomplete. It’s something.

    The biggest problem with the crowd review sites is that unless your music is somewhere in the fat part of the fairway within the handful of genres they offer, the feedback is worthless because the reviewers are not familiar with your genre and not in your target market. [The White Stripes’ debut, for example, would have been utterly savaged in the “Alternative” section.] Having said that, I think these sites do offer potentially valuable feedback if you fit neatly into one of the genres and/or your objective is to produce something that will appeal to the mainstream.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 10, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on the relative merits of feedback from musicians. I feel like, in most cases, it’s more valuable than feedback from the general public — especially if they’re reviewing a work-in-progress.

      As for your genre, I’d argue your music is more accessible than you think. Not to mention, there are synthwave musicians on the site!

      While I agree that I’m not reliably reaching my target audience through ReverbNation, I’ve had plenty of reviewers say they love the song enough to look me up outside the platform.

      Regardless, I still think it’s valuable to compare the relative scores of songs to see which to push and which to relegate to the album.

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