Sites & Services

What Artists Should Know About Feature.fm

Feature.fm

Every musical artist wants their work to be heard. Many are happy to give it away for free. Some are even willing to pay for people to listen, even if the cost is never recouped.

If you’re looking to increase your YouTube views or SoundCloud plays for vanity purposes, there are dozens of options. To play your songs to potential fans, I know of two.

I’ve covered Radio Airplay (previously Jango Airplay) extensively, and will be revisiting it soon. The other is Feature.fm, a relative newcomer and the subject of today’s post. EarbitsLast.fm, and Grooveshark no longer offer paid campaigns.

How much does Feature.fm cost? Less than 2 cents per play. Unlike competing services, you’re only charged for plays over 30 seconds. About 40% of my plays never made it that far, so they were on the house.

plays over 30 seconds

Where do Feature.fm plays occur? They plan to bring other streaming partners onboard, but their sole partner right now is 8tracks. 8tracks hosts millions of user-created playlists which anyone can stream for free. Here are two that I lovingly handcrafted just for you:

Indie Synthpop from colortheory on 8tracks Radio.

Music for a Late Afternoon Nap from colortheory on 8tracks Radio.

Feature.fm doesn’t just inject your song into the middle of a playlist. That would be rude! Instead, it places it between playlists, which explains why the percentage of listeners who don’t make it past 30 seconds is so high. They may realize their playlist is finished, and either select another or exit  the site completely. If they do make it through your song, 8tracks automatically selects another playlist for continuous listening.

A huge bonus is that Feature.fm streams your song through SoundCloud’s API if you provide the link. In other words, every Feature.fm play counts as a SoundCloud play! I’m happy to spend $10 on every upload for the approximately 600 play jumpstart. All those free plays under 30 seconds still count towards your SoundCloud play count.

I was able to confirm my SoundCloud plays by temporarily signing up for a Pro Unlimited account ($15/month), which provides detailed stats.

SoundCloud stats

Over the period I promoted the song in question, Feature.fm was responsible for 5,048 out of 6,138 plays. The top websites column lists dozens of 8tracks playlists (click image to enlarge).

So yeah, it’s legit.

Setting up your campaign

Once you specify the artist and name your campaign, there are three main screens:

feature.fm step2

The Song Upload page is pretty straightforward. They’re working on a feature to help artists choose the best tags. In the meantime, ask yourself, “What would people search for to find my music?”

Whatever you do, don’t leave that SoundCloud URL blank! If you don’t already have a SoundCloud account, now’s the time to create one and upload the song there first. It’s going to look mighty popular over the next few days.

feature.fm step3

The Targeting page allows you to drill down on who will hear your song. In addition to gender and age, you can select the countries you’d like your song heard in, and even specific states in the US.

Daniel Sander, Head of Market Development at Feature.fm, recommends always targeting by location. It doesn’t cost any extra, so why not? My best performing campaign by engagement targeted California, New York, and Utah. Bet you didn’t know that indie synthpop is big in Utah!

On the other hand, Daniel doesn’t recommend setting any age or gender restrictions until they integrate more streaming services. While 8tracks won’t play your song to listeners they know fall outside your specified range, few listeners provide demographic info. I tried targeting males 40-50, my key demo based on other sources. My results showed less than 0.2% of listeners were known to meet that criteria.

8tracks users are split about evenly male/female, and the vast majority are 18-35. That’s a key demographic that’s tough for traditional marketers to reach, and likely what you’re aiming for anyway.

You can select from four calls to action, or create your own. Daniel recommends going with a custom CTA, even if it’s just “like me on Facebook,” because the big green custom CTA button performs better than the ubiquitous standard Facebook button. In the campaign shown above, I linked to a free download of the song.

My message to users was a short bio, but you could just as easily share the story behind the song or album. I suppose you could also include another call to action, though URLs aren’t hyperlinked.

feature.fm step4

Last but not least, the Budget page determines your spending rate. I highly recommend you set a daily limit, because you can easily burn through thousands of plays in a single day, even with a highly targeted campaign.

That’s it! Most likely, your song will be approved and plays will start within an hour or two.

My Feature.fm results

I ran six campaigns from Dec 16, 2015 through Feb 19, 2016, for a total spend of $220. Feature.fm provided $170 worth of plays, and I paid $50 out of my own pocket.

That $220 generated 12,043 plays, for an average cost per play of $0.018. That includes 471 organic plays, which occur when a listener adds your track to their playlist, and another listener hears it there. Organic plays continue to accrue after your paid plays run out.

For a play to count as organic, it must be the direct result of a specific Feature.fm campaign. I ran three campaigns on the same song, and organic plays are tracked separately for each. Your song may very well be in the 8tracks catalog already (mine are via CD Baby), and getting regular spins, but those don’t count.

Engagements, meaning listeners clicking on stuff in the overlay that accompanies the song, were relatively sparse. Here’s the breakdown from the campaign above, with the custom “Free Download” call to action:

plays breakdown

engagement

Is Feature.fm worth it?

Clearly the engagement numbers alone don’t justify the $40 spent from a return on investment standpoint. Those 46 clicks are unlikely to generate $40 in sales. Of course, if one listener buys my discography on Bandcamp for $70, all bets are off. Feature.fm is working on allowing listeners to share their contact info, which will tip the scales further.

Throw in the 2,248 plays on 8tracks, which also count on SoundCloud, plus the potential for future organic plays, and I’d say that yes, Feature.fm is worth it.

Some will wonder, as they do with Radio Airplay, whether real people are listening. Some will call it payola. Some will call it a scam. I addressed those concerns back in 2009, and the same reasoning applies here.

I know from experience that many of these listeners will become genuine fans, just as Radio Airplay listeners did. For example, here’s a new fan who liked my song enough to follow up with Feature.fm directly:

And a couple more who commented on my song on YouTube:

YouTube comments

It’s clearly superior to a traditional radio campaign, like the one I spent $4,000 on with literally nothing to show for it.

I asked Feature.fm for a discount code, and they set me up as an affiliate. If you’d like to try it out for free, you can support this site using this link, or click on the banner below.

Feature.fmFor it to be truly free, you’ll need to opt for a weekly budget and cancel before the second week starts and your credit card gets charged. You sneaky devil you!

Obviously $10 worth of plays isn’t going to make or break your music career. Daniel at Feature.fm suggests investing at least $50 to see an impact.

More to come

There’s a lot more to Feature.fm and 8tracks, but your eyes are already starting to glaze over.

If you’re interested, I may follow up with a post on one or both of these:

Spotlight – An ongoing Feature.fm campaign to fan-fund your song plays and engage with fans.

Feature.fm Spotlight

8tracks – Why not include your songs in your own playlists, and get plays for free? As you can see, I’m already giving it a try.

8tracks stats

Regardless, I’ll report back with my results over the coming months as I continue to use the service.


Have you tried Feature.fm? What do you think?

Share your questions, thoughts, and results in the comments!

You Might Also Like

20 Comments

  • Reply
    Dan Sander
    February 23, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Dan from feature.fm here. Thanks for the awesome writeup Brian! We would love to hear as much feedback as possible from your readers and look forward to seeing comments! Anyone can also feel free to reach out to us directly along the way with any questions or for recommendations on how to get the most out of feature.fm! Email us any time at community@feature.fm or reach out to us directly through the website chat 🙂

    • Reply
      secretsofakasha
      September 3, 2017 at 7:32 am

      I had negative experience with this service. I wouldn’t recomment it to anyone. Here I explained why
      http://secretsofakasha.blogspot.com/2017/06/why-not-to-use-featurefm-review.html

      • Reply
        secretsofakasha
        September 3, 2017 at 7:36 am

        In short for me it looks like false plays. Sorry

        • Reply
          ctheory11
          September 3, 2017 at 2:44 pm

          Nice to hear from you Akasha!

          I read your short article, and while you didn’t actually present your data, I don’t think you interpret it correctly.

          Unlike you, I had plenty of skips . Engagements are always low to nonexistent because most people listen passively.

          Most importantly, I’ve had several people tell me they first heard my music on 8tracks — in other words, Feature.fm.

          • secretsofakasha
            September 6, 2017 at 8:58 am

            Thank you for you answer!
            yes, actually I had 3 skips in the first 2 and last 4 seconds of the track.
            I had also engagement – 1 from Finland (my song was played 1 time in Finland, few times in other countries and about 1200 times in Canada. It’s sad that once you make a mistake and you don’t choose the countries where you want your song to be played, you cannot change it later and basically everything goes to Canada).
            Apparently my song is very “well tolerated” for listeners but not engaging enough (apart from that one person from Finland)(that could be the interperation)

  • Reply
    Rob Grabowski
    February 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Great review Brian! Didn’t know about the Soundcloud plays feature! That’s awesome!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 24, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks Rob! Let me know if you give it a shot.

  • Reply
    Nathalie
    February 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for the amazing tip Brian- as always! =) I’m trying feature.fm out RIGHT NOW. Exciting.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 25, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Much appreciated Nathalie! Let us know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Glow Lee Mamba
    March 12, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I’ve tried out Feature.fm and it brings me direct sales when users click on buy song or the custom call to action, this site rules! I recommend it.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      March 14, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Nice! I haven’t traced a sale to the custom CTA yet, but I need to be more focused in my usage of it.

  • Reply
    Bob
    March 13, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for the write-up Brian I’m giving this a shot right now!

  • Reply
    John
    April 8, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Nice write up Brian! It seems like a good service, I’m definitely going to give it a try.

  • Reply
    Bob
    November 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Brian, have you tried any of the new options on Feature.fm yet such as Website placement and the Deezer option?

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      November 10, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Not yet! I was talking with Dan about trying out Deezer but we left it hanging. I’ll email him again right now!

  • Reply
    tony newton
    June 1, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Excellent write up Brian on the details that matter because on the feature.fm website there is not much detail at all and just leaves you more confused than clear. I don’t understand if they are so effective why the website is so short on detailed explanations. There isn’t even artist testimonies or comments on the services – I had to Google feature.fm reviews to find yours – this is not good. What would be so helpful is to read or hear about good experience and results artists are getting. That’s what would get me to spend money, not the fluff-hype stuff on the website. I have used RadioAirplay/Jango for about a year and it was an OK experience but not really a slam dunk because they seem to change things around periodically. Originally you could connect with listeners who made comments and left their email or Facebook info, now all of that has changed and it is not as useful. It would be really nice to find a great service which can actually give us useful information and bang for the buck and not just hype. Music artist need services which have integrity and can bring something to the table-you are spending money thus provide some real benefits instead of profit, profit, profit. _ Thanks again Brian so very much, I would like to know more of yours and others feature.fm experience “before” signing up.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      June 2, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Glad you found it useful! I find Feature.fm and Radio Airplay are best to build awareness of your music. Of course, that’s hard to measure, and even harder to see how much it translates into sales. If you try one of the newer Deezer campaigns on Feature.fm, you’ll at least be able to see your promoted song move up the list of your most popular songs. If you’re lucky, you may get some playlist adds as well!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 6, 2017 at 9:23 am

    To Akasha (sorry, the threading only goes five comments deep) —

    Dan stressed to me repeatedly that the value is in the plays themselves, not the engagements. So I wouldn’t say your song isn’t engaging because of a low engagements number.

    One could argue that the low number of skips means your song is VERY engaging! Way to look on the bright side, eh?

  • Share Your Thoughts