Sites & Services

What Artists Should Know About ArtistLink

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.

UPDATE 2/28/15: ArtistLink is no more! Boo. Well, here’s what it used to do anyway, for old time’s sake.

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.

As awesome as this all sounds (to me at least), my ArtistLink promotions boast a whopping 2 clicks. One obvious reason: why would any Spotify user want to buy my albums when they can listen to them on Spotify for free? Too bad I’m all out of t-shirts.

Another factor is the wording of the button. If it said “view offer” or something less committal, it might get more clicks. A “buy” button is so… final. People probably assume their order will be processed using the credit card on file with Spotify, without even knowing the price!

As an aside, you can also hook up Spotify with Next Big Sound to view your plays data. For instructions and other Spotify best practices, check out Spotify for Artists.

al_beatsmusic

Same idea, different subscription service. The big differences promoting on Beats Music versus Spotify are:

  1. You can only run one promotion at a time, as opposed to three on Spotify.
  2. Currently, offers only appear on the Android app.

Since I’ve got an iPhone, I’ve never actually seen my promotions in the wild. They’ve amassed an underwhelming 2 clicks, just like on Spotify.

The way I see it, we might as well get in on the ground floor with Beats Music while they’re young and hungry. They promise to be the most artist-focused of the music subscription services, and since they just bought Topspin (including ArtistLink), there are virtually no barriers between artist and listener.

Promo Exhange

Promo Exchange is similar to CoPromote (formerly Headliner.fm), except instead of trading social media posts with other artists, you trade banner ads – like this one, which should swap out for another if you refresh the page (if you don’t see anything, you’ve probably got AdBlock running):

For every three impressions of others’ ads on my site, I earn two impressions of my ads on their sites. You’re allowed to embed up to three promo widgets per page. The widgets are available in six sizes. You earn the same number of impressions regardless of the size of the widget, so you might as well embed three of the smallest ones, since credits are based on impressions rather than clicks.

Speaking of clicks, I didn’t get many (16, to be exact):

Promo Exchange results

ArtistLink’s stated average click through ratio is 1.9%, so clearly I’m doing something wrong. I’ve never had much luck with banner ads! Unless you’re a well-known artist with a new release or tour, which I am not, I’ve found them to be useless.

You may be wondering: if artists get two credits for every three impressions, what is that third impression for? For paying customers, of course!

You can advertise your Promo Exchange, Spotify, and Beats Music campaigns on the same network at exorbitant prices. Here’s the cheapest package:

ad rates

Keep in mind, you’re paying for impressions, not clicks. At my CTR, the $99.99 package generates 69 clicks at $1.45 a pop!

al_mtvartists

Last and definitely least, you can create a profile on MTV Artists. Here’s mine.

It’s racked up 0 views over the past 7 days, and 13 over the past… ever. My songs have been downloaded 3 times, total.

Adding insult to injury, the interface is such a chore! Song, video, and photo uploads disappear at random. Adding cover art rarely works. Albums I mark as private appear as free downloads. My latest releases don’t show up on my discography even though I added them myself, presumably because they aren’t on Echo Nest. Anyone know how to submit to Echo Nest?

For $10/month, you can upgrade to a premium account, to trade songs for email addresses and sell merchandise via widgets anywhere on the web. I’ll stick with Bandcamp, thank you.

UPDATE 4/5/14: Just got an email saying that banners will expire every 30 days, forcing you to login and re-save it every month. Joyous.

One last gripe: I’ve had 9 placements on MTV shows, but you wouldn’t know that from my MTV Artists profile. Wouldn’t it make sense for the show episode pages to link to the artist pages, and the artist pages back to the show episode pages? Yes, it would.

It’s not all dark skies and dead puppies though:

Opportunities

There are several opportunities you may as well opt in to, like getting your video played on MTV, VH1, or CMT. Of course, that means you’ll have to set up your MTV Artists profile for their consideration. You’ll be cursing like a sailor in no time!

TL;DR: You can sell your merch on Spotify!

What’s been your experience with ArtistLink? Let me know in the comments!

You Might Also Like

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Monty
    March 25, 2014 at 8:54 am

    To me this is another great example that if you want to sell merch, you have to play live and do it in person. But, at least they are trying to do something smart.

    Monty

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      March 25, 2014 at 10:48 am

      I imagine if the merch is compelling, you’ll get buyers. CDs aren’t the thrill they once were!

  • Reply
    Jim Furey
    March 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Pretty cool that services such as ArtistLink, Spotify, and Beats are trying new ways to be artist centric, but overall this just adds to my growing belief that the ability to self-promote is becoming that much more difficult.

    There are so many options, with new one popping up almost daily, each one touted as the newest wonder widget to grow your fanbase, that the conspiracy nut in me thinks this is all being masterminded by the labels to frustrate the independent artist into giving up their freedom for some sense of security. The law of diminishing returns says that each new promotion service will be less effective than the last so it’s becoming much harder to figure our where to spend valuable sweat equity, time, and money. It’s enough to make me want to cave and just write dubstep, or brostep, or whatever they’re calling it these days. Ha!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      March 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      I think the growth of promotion options parallels the growth of listening options. People get their music in so many different ways, there’s no easy method to hit all the usual suspects. But hey, Spotify is a biggie, and promoting on it via ArtistLink is free, so… might as well!

  • Reply
    Bryan Joseph
    March 27, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Cool post Brian. Hypebot recently posted my blog about how to automate your merch sales on spotify and beats music using SongAmpr & ArtistLink. You mentioned running out of t-shirts. Check out SongAmpr. It’s automated merchandising and it’s free. Here’s a link to the article: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2014/02/how-to-automate-your-merch-sales-on-spotify-and-beats-music.html

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      March 27, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks Bryan! Yeah, I read that article! Good stuff.

      I haven’t checked out SongAmpr, but historically CafePress and similar sites end up charging more than I think a t-shirt should cost, even after knocking my commission down to zero. Maybe they’re more reasonable now. I’ll take a peek!

  • Reply
    Bryan Joseph
    March 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks Brian! Yeah, I hear you on the pricing. It’s a tradeoff for eliminating the headache and risk involved with merchandising. Good news is we’re now offering Next Level T’s which are supposed to be comparable to American Apparel, but priced a bit lower.

    On another note, digging both your blog and music! Great stuff man!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      March 28, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      I’ll take a look! Thanks again Bryan.

  • Reply
    Billy Bones
    April 9, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Great read Brian!

  • Reply
    Lio Mori (@LioMakingNoise)
    June 3, 2015 at 2:31 am

    I wanted to give it a try, but sadly this website seems to be out of business

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      June 5, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Frustrating how fast these things change! Ah well. I updated the article. Thanks for reminding me!

    Share Your Thoughts