Sites & Services

What Artists Should Know About SoundOut

SoundOut

You know your song is great, but is it a hit? Will it inspire listeners to share it with their friends, hand over their email address, or maybe even open their wallets? You need feedback from average music fans who have nothing to lose by being honest.

SoundOut compares your song to 50,000 others from both major labels and indies. They promise to tell you how good your track is with guaranteed 95% accuracy (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what that means). Starting at $40, they compile the results of 80 reviews into an easy-to-read PDF report. Top rated artists are considered for additional publishing and promotional opportunities.

UPDATE 9/16/13 – ReverbNation has a new feature called Crowd Review, which is “powered by” SoundOut. Based on recent reader comments (below), it appears to be identical. If that’s not the case, please let us know!

The head of business development invited me to try out the service for free with three 24-hour “Express Reports” (a $150 value). I used the feedback from my Jango focus group to select the best and worst tracks I recorded for my last album, along with my personal favorite, an 8-minute progressive house epic. You can download all three of my PDF reports here.

Summary of Results

I can describe the results in one word: brutal. None of the songs are deemed worthy of being album tracks, much less singles. In the most important metric, Market Potential, my best song received a 54%, my worst 39%, and my favorite a pathetic 20%. Those numbers stand in stark contrast to my stats at Jango, for reasons I’ll explain in a bit.

Despite the huge swing in percentages, the track ratings only vary from 4.7 to 5.9, which implies Market Potential scores of 47% to 59%. For better or for worse, those scores are weighted using “computational forensic linguistic technology and other proprietary SoundOut techniques.” Even the track rating score is weighted! I would love to see a raw average of the 80 reviewers’ 0-10 point ratings, because I don’t trust the algorithms. The verbal smokescreen used to describe them doesn’t exactly inspire confidence (isn’t any numerical analysis “computational”?).

Perhaps to soften the blow, the bottom of the page lists three songs by well known artists in the same genre that have similar market potential. Translation: your songs suck, but so do these others by major label acts you look up to. Curiously, two of the same songs are listed on my 39% and 20% reports, which casts further doubt on the underlying algorithms.

Detailed Feedback

I found the Detailed Feedback page to be the most useful. It tells you who liked your song based on age group and gender. I don’t know exactly what “like” translates to on a 10-point scale, but it makes sense that 25-34 year-olds rate my retro 80’s song higher than 16-24 year-olds, since the former were actually around back then.

The track positioning chart maps your song relative to 1,000 others in the genre, based on rating and consensus of opinion. It’s a clean and intuitive representation of how your song stacks up to the competition. Still, it would be nice to know what criteria (if any) was used to select those 1,000 tracks.

Review Analysis

The Review Analysis section is utterly useless. The elements listed change from song to song. The only element that was consistently judged excellent is guitar, which is quite generous considering there’s no guitar in any of my songs.

The actual reviews are no better or worse than the comments on my Jango profile. They ranged from overly enthusiastic (“THIS SONG WAS GREAT I REALLY LIKED IT IT HAD A GOOD BEAT TO IT I MY HAVE TO DOWNLOAD IT MYSLEF”) to passive aggressive (“this song wasn’t as bad as it could be”). At the very least, the reviews prove there are real people behind the numbers.

Unfortunately for me, they don’t appear to be fans of electronic music. Not a single reviewer mentioned an electronic act. Instead of the usual comparisons to The Postal Service, Owl City, and Depeche Mode, I got Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston(!), and Alan Parsons Project.

Scouting for Fame and Fortune

As puzzling as the mention of guitar in the review analysis was, it was a comment about my “20% song” that convinced me to review the review process. It said “the lack of vocals is a shame.” Those seven words reveal a key flaw in their methodology: reviewers only have to listen to the first 60 seconds of your song.

If you’re considering giving SoundOut a whirl, I highly recommend trying your hand as a scout on their sister site, Slicethepie. In just five minutes, you too can be one of the “real music fans and consumers” reviewing songs for SoundOut. You’ll start well below the minimum wage at $0.02 per review, but top performers can level up to $0.20 a pop.

Hitting the play button starts the 60 second countdown until you can start typing your review. If you don’t come up with at least a couple quality sentences, it nags you to try harder. The elements in each track are not explicitly rated. Instead, the text of each review is analyzed, as evidenced by the scolding I received when one of my reviews was rejected:

“A review of the track would be good! You haven’t mentioned any of our expected musical terms – please try again…”

I didn’t appreciate the sarcasm after composing what I considered to be a very insightful review mentioning the production and drums – both of which are scored elements. This buggy behavior may explain my stellar air guitar scores. Perhaps my reviewers wrote “it would be NICE to hear some GUITAR” and the algorithm mistakenly connected the two words.

Even though I only selected electronic genres when I created my profile, I heard everything from mainstream rock/pop to hip hop, country, and metal. Reviewers are not matched to songs by genre. Everyone reviews everything, which opens us all up to Whitney Houston comparisons.

Conclusion

Can you tell if a song is great by listening to the first minute? No, but you can tell if it’s a hit.

If you operate in a niche genre, searching for your 1000 true fans, SoundOut may not be a good fit. For example, my best song doesn’t pay off until you hear the lyrical twist in the last chorus, and my “20% song” doesn’t have vocals for the first two minutes. With that in mind, how useful is a comprehensive analysis of the first 60 seconds? Less useful still when the data comes from reviewers who aren’t fluent in the genre.

While I have some reservations about their methodology, SoundOut is the fastest way I know of to get an unbiased opinion from a large sample of listeners. Use it wisely!

UPDATE 4/23/14 – Now there’s a better option! Check out my review of AudioKite, the best market research tool for musician’s I’ve tried yet.

You Might Also Like

98 Comments

  • Reply
    Iamnotlefthanded
    October 18, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Great post Brian, as always – as artists who’ve been up to our eyes in the whole STP scouting and rating process for several months, it’s great to hear a fresh perspective of someone coming to it for the first time.

    I think a lot of points you raise are pretty on the money – the complaint that the scouts don’t really know what to do with electronic music (and hip-hop) is a fairly common one, I think the service is definitely better suited for indie/pop/rock.

    People who want to try it out for free and get reviewed by strangers can just make a profile on SliceThePie itself, and submit three of your tracks for consideration – you won’t necessarily get any useful positive comments, but if people keep saying the same thing it does give you a perspective on the impression your music makes on complete strangers.

    – Daniel
    I Am Not Lefthanded

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      October 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      Great idea Daniel! I likewise appreciate your perspective as a veteran of the site.

      I wonder how the feedback from Slicethepie differs from say, OurStage, or the now-defunct GarageBand. While they say the reviews come from genuine music fans who don’t know they’re doing market research, there must be a large number of musicians scouting to gain tips and boost their visibility on the site.

      • Reply
        Reggie Diamond
        October 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

        Brian you are exactly right, slice the pie is full of artists reviewing artists, it shows in the comments.

    • Reply
      Reggie Diamond
      October 20, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      You are exactly right about the site being geared to indie/pop/rock. There are not any listeners in my opinion that are there for Rap. And I also think that the site is full of artists reviewing artists, it shows in the comments.

      Slice The Pie is not a “fair” idea in the sense that it’s anonymous ratings “in my opinion” are not a real sense of if your song is a hit or not.

      People need to get from behind the screen and get into the face of people. That is the REAL tell-tale.

      – Reggie Diamond CEO Green Blood Records
      http://www.greenbloodrecords.com

  • Reply
    Sharmita
    October 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Brian. I’m keen to explain a couple of your queries/points here – which are covered in our FAQs (see: http://www.soundout.com/About/FAQs.aspx) but I appreciate may not have come across so clearly just from the report itself:

    a) They promise to tell you how good your track is with guaranteed 95% accuracy (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what that means)

    We’ve tested SoundOut over and over again by randomly feeding the same track multiple times to a different group (smart crowd) of 80 reviewers each time. The overall track rating you get in the reports always falls within a 5% range, making SoundOut 95% accurate! Its not a coincidence – its just us harnessing Wisdom Of Crowds, a methodology used by Google and loads of other organisations to help come to accurate decisions. Please see our FAQs on “What is the Wisdom of Crowds” for more insight about how this works.

    The SoundOut report simply positions how well your track is received against thousands of other tracks that have been reviewed and rated through SoundOut (both major label and indie artist), and it is this (not us or the reviewers individually) that determines how “good” your track is in the broader market and within its own genre.

    b) None of the songs are deemed worthy of being album tracks, much less singles. In the most important metric, Market Potential, my best song received a 54%, my worst 39%, and my favorite a pathetic 20%. Despite the huge swing in percentages, the track ratings only vary from 4.7 to 5.9, which implies Market Potential scores of 47% to 59%.

    See above, SoundOut doesn’t tell you if your tracks are worthy or not for use. It just objectively positions your track in the real world/broader market and against other tracks in its own genre. A track that is classified in the report as an “album track” is one that rates in the top 20% of the thousands of other tracks that have been reviewed and rated through SoundOut. If it shows up as “single” its rates in the top 5 % and “strong single” in the top 1% highest rated tracks. It’s a competitive market out there and not many songs make it as hits.

    The Market Potential percentage is calculated using the track rating, the passion level rating for the track, and also takes into account how much the reviewers have talked about the “commerciality” of the track in their reviews (including references to radio friendliness, its hit potential etc.). The track rating indicates how good the track is in terms of quality and the passion rating identifies how much the reviewers liked it. The more the audience loved the track the more likely they would be to buy it.

    Since Aug 2009 we have put every new release by the major labels through SoundOut, before the singles have been released (commercially or on radio). By subsequently mapping the SoundOut Market Potential ratings of the tracks against their post-release sales performance, this has shown a definitive correlation between the two and is why we are confident that SoundOut is a good indicator of a track’s sales or hit potential. It should be noted however that the relative success of a single assumes a serious promotional budget, and also directly relates to the existing profile of an artist.

    c) For better or for worse, those scores are weighted using “computational forensic linguistic technology and other proprietary SoundOut techniques.” Even the track rating score is weighted!

    Track ratings are weighted according to each reviewer and their review history which we collect. The more experienced and accurate a reviewer has been in the past the more weight their opinion carries – this is to ensure that we deliver more accurate overall results. Please see our FAQ on “Can I trust the reviews? What motivates the reviewers to leave reviews? Are they compensated?” for more details.

    The computational forensic linguistic (CFL) technology is a tongue twister (sorry about that) but this is what “reads” the free text reviews that listeners leave and makes sense of it as a collective view. More details below.

    d) Curiously, two of the same [similar tracks by well known artist] songs are listed on my 39% and 20% reports, which casts further doubt on the underlying algorithms.

    Your tracks that received 39% and 20% fall into the same classification boundary (both rate in lower 50% of all rated tracks) – albeit one resonated more than the other. This is why you saw the same similar tracks by well known artists – as these show up according to the same classfication boundary as your tracks (not by exact market potential percentage).

    e) Still, it would be nice to know what criteria (if any) was used to select those 1,000 tracks [that compares your track within genre].

    The 1000 tracks that your track is positioned against are the most recent ones that have been submitted through SoundOut and the same genre has been selected by the user.

    f) The elements [in the Review Analysis] listed change from song to song. The only element that was consistently judged excellent is guitar, which is quite generous considering there’s no guitar in any of my songs.

    The Review Analysis changes from song to song as it picks up the elements that are talked about most often in the 80 reviews – which can differ depending on the song. The (CFL) technology used to “read” the reviews is pretty smart and is modelled on the human language so it is able to understand free text descriptions about music, emotions, moods, etc. more than just positives and negatives.

    We had the word “Bass” included under “Guitar” in reference to bass guitars – which is why this was picked up in your Review Analysis. We are going to change this as a result of your comments as we appreciate the word “Bass” is more relevant to Electronic and Dance tracks than the word “Guitar”.

    g) Reviewers only have to listen to the first 60 seconds of your song…..With that in mind, how useful is a comprehensive analysis of the first 60 seconds?

    That’s not entirely correct – reviewers have to listen to AT LEAST 60 seconds before they leave their rating and write their review (rather than only). This is to ensure they give a track a chance – we know that most reviewers typically listen to 2 mins to the whole track when reviewing.

    h) Reviewers are not matched to songs by genre….Less useful still when the data comes from reviewers who aren’t fluent in the genre.

    SoundOut randomly selects the 80 reviewers that review a track on purpose, because in order to create a “smart crowd” and deliver accurate overall results, the group has to be diverse and hold different opinions. Please see our FAQ on “How do you select the reviewers who rate and review my track? Why can’t I select who reviews my track?” for more details about this.

    i) If you operate in a niche genre, searching for your 1000 true fans, SoundOut may not be a good fit.

    The genre preferences of the reviewers for SoundOut does broadly reflect the preference split in the real world – so we have more reviewers who are more into Pop, Indie, R&B, Rock etc.

    However, for this reason the SoundOut reports include the In Genre Classification where your track is positioned against thousands of other tracks in its own genre. So for a niche track – which will typically be targeted to a niche market only – it is this rating that will be more relevant to you. So, for example your SoundOut report could show a low Overall Market Potential rating e.g. 15% = Below Average = bottom 50% boundary – but the In Genre Classification might show Very Good = Single potential = it falls in the top 5% of all tracks rated in that genre.

    Well, I hope that helps explain SoundOut to you in more detail. As said please check out the site for more details in our FAQs.

    All the best,

    Sharmita
    SoundOut

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      October 20, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks for your detailed response Sharmita!

      Believe me, I pored over the FAQ as I wrote the article, and you’ve shared plenty of new information here. For example, classification boundaries and the fact that the track positioning chart is based on the most recent 1,000 reviewed tracks in the genre are nowhere to be found in the FAQ. I really appreciate the clarifications!

      In regard to the 95% accuracy claim, I get the Wisdom of Crowds stuff. What I was “trying to wrap my brain around” was the distinction between accuracy and consistency. If you feed the same track to different groups and the result always falls within a 5% range, you’ve got consistency – but not necessarily accuracy.

      Here’s a non-musical analogy: If you get a group of folks together who have never tried sushi, and ask them to taste different items, they may consistently favor the California roll. Sushi fans would of course scoff.

      Likewise, if you asked high school kids to review Mozart and Brahms, Mozart would almost certainly come out on top, consistently. But Brahms is better (there, I said it!). So why should we trust pop/rock fans to judge electronic, or hip-hop, or death metal for that matter? They may consistently favor tracks that are easy to digest, but if fans of the genre would prefer different tracks, the results aren’t accurate. All the weighting in the world won’t change that.

      I applaud the decision to change your analysis tools to differentiate between bass and guitar. That seems like a useful distinction even in mainstream pop/rock. Even substituting bass for guitar in my reports, I don’t find that section very useful. The inconsistency from song to song makes me question its accuracy. For example, only one report includes keyboard, which forms the basis of my instrumentation. Considering that the information is derived from only 80 reviews, I’d be surprised if any one element was mentioned more than a handful of times.

      What if you let reviewers rate each element explicitly using additional 0-10 sliders? It might actually help focus their listening and improve the quality of their reviews, while encouraging them to listen to more of the song. More importantly, it would create a larger sample size and eliminate CFL errors.

      Speaking of listening to more of the song, you’re right – technically reviewers listen for longer than 60 seconds. My guess is that the first 60 seconds is spent listening and the rest is spent writing as the music continues to play. That’s how I did it anyway. 🙂

  • Reply
    Burzinski
    October 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    I tried SoundOut once and really didn’t know why after seeing the results. It’s supposed to bring an insight, but I’m not shure it’s detailed enough. It’s only statistics and opinions based on 80 “reviewers” only.

    First of all I’m into a niche, but I had to select a general genre. “Indie” in my case, or I could have selected rock… well… indie bands such as what ? Stereolab ? The Pixies ? The Smiths ? Beach House ? Antony & the Johnsons ? Interpol ? not enough acurate, I think. What about selecting bands I sound like instead ? such as what lastFm or Jango actually do when you want to target.

    So I’ve got a few 8, and lots of less “good notes”. It reminds me Jango who claim for each 100 plays you get about 3-5 “fans”. The difference is your target is more accurate on Jango, closer to the bands you sound like.

    Let’s go now for example reviews, those written by people who don’t know they review something :

    First one insightful, but no insight for me :
    “A beautiful song in my opinion, haunting vocals that remind me a little of Ian Curtis. Maybe percieved as “morbid” but deffinately a success amongst those with a certain appreciation for bands such as “the xx” – i really enjoyed this piece and found the pedal notes used as a sort of ostinato throughout the whole piece very effective and adding to the mood of the piece”. 8/10

    Now Rock and Jazz :
    “hii guys ,,,its a very very slow song to be listenmay be it will make u bore for the rock and jazz listeners” 5/10

    A question of mood :
    “nice introduction i like the violin it was very relaxing as well as the voice it was low in tone but relaxing and comfortable to the ears. i like the quality of the voice it is pretty unique. the background effect was cool it has a perfect match to the whole song. but totally this song was a depressive one” 2/10

    So what do you think exactly :
    “The voice of the singer was extra ordinary and I loved it but his singing was very poor and I did not like it though the music was good. The music was cool and calm and I found it interesting.” 1/10

    Ok I’m not going to copy all of the comments, some are bad, some are good, all are a personal approach… It’s only an excerpt, and I frankly don’t know why I used this service. Maybe because I needed an insight after my first release… But I didn’t get any with this service.

    I had no air guitar rating, even if I use a lot more than you, Brian…

    My song had a global score of 4.6, which is “below average”. I had a 7th weak level behind on the charts… Curiously I also reached the Top 5 on jango with this song last june… it doesn’t mean I’m famous, of course… 😉 but facts are better than stats…

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      October 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm

      You’re right Laurent, “indie” isn’t a very telling description of your music, which may be more “niche” than mine! As such, targeting the right audience is crucial, and Jango is certainly a better vehicle for doing so. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in your SoundOut scores, but perhaps a few of the comments were helpful, or at least encouraging.

  • Reply
    Jeff Shattuck
    October 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Brian, great post. Like you., I tried SO and for one track (I submitted two) I got the guitars comments, as well, even though there were no guitars. I dunno, I think SO is useful, but the way they market themselves tells me that the people behind the biz are charlatans. I mean, all the malarkey about algorithms and what not, I just don’t really buy it. I would if they gave more evidence of the hard work they’ve done, but they don’t, so I’m left to be skeptical. I truly hope that someone from SO weighs in here or offers you more insight into their process. Maybe an exec from the company could offer some specifics about the mystical algorithms, the weighting, the reviewer screening process (is there one?), the potential for publishing based on high scores and on and on. Oh, and for anyone who’s interested, here’s a link to my track with the sucky guitars: http://jeffshattuck.bandcamp.com/track/here-comes-the-weather-pre-release

  • Reply
    Reggie Diamond
    October 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I honestly think Slicethepie has more artists than actual people that don’t make music (ie listeners) making reviews.

    Listeners rate the actual song, artists rate the production, arrangement, etc of a song. It reflects in the comments.

    I appreciate the good comments and bad ones as well. As an artist who has sold other artists cds in the streets of the United States and internet for 4 years strong, I can definitely tell an artist versus a listener when it comes to music. And in my opinion the site kind of reminds me of garageband.com in the 2006-2007 era, where artists generally ripped on other artists, for free reviews of their song. This time people are actually getting some money to do it *Applause* , lol.

    Anyways, I still like the concept of slicethepie, I just think it is more geared towards artists rating each other and targeted at Europe versus the entire world.

    Just my 2 cents.

    http://www.greenbloodrecords.com

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      October 20, 2010 at 8:32 pm

      I definitely get the GarageBand vibe as well. It’s hard for artists to judge another artist’s work fairly when he or she has a horse in the race.

      Thanks for sharing your impressions!

      • Reply
        Brian Hazard
        October 20, 2010 at 9:28 pm

        Just wanted to throw in a little pop psychology to elaborate on that point. When you perceive someone as a competitor, you don’t feel empathy with him or her, which stops you from from considering his or her ideas. Therefore the better the song, the more formidable the perceived challenge, and the more biased our judgment is.

  • Reply
    matt wheeler
    October 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I put a couple of songs up on slice the pie to see what happens.
    The responses I got struck me as a mix of people who had never heard music outside of Top 40 radio, and those whose wording struck me as very ESL/Babelfish sounding. I wonder where they pull these listeners from?

  • Reply
    Andre Wiley
    March 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I would love an unbiased opinion about my new work, but without comments and seeing a breakdown of each, it's a waste of money in my opinion. I need to know what WOULD make it a great song in their eyes, not that they don't "like it" because they listen to primarily Hip hop or Country….

  • Reply
    Andre From Idlewood
    March 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I would love an unbiased opinion about my new work, but without comments and seeing a breakdown of each, it’s a waste of money in my opinion. I need to know what WOULD make it a great song in their eyes, not that they don’t “like it” because they listen to primarily Hip hop or Country..
    Andre From Idlewood
    facebook.com/andrefromidlewood ..

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    In that case, I think your best bet is Taxi. They won't just tell you how good or bad your music is, they'll tell you how to make it better.

  • Reply
    Andre Wiley
    March 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    What is the website?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    http://www.taxi.com

    I also wrote an article on my experience with Taxi, which you can read here: http://passivepromotion.com/12-years-with-taxi

  • Reply
    Daniel Throssell
    April 23, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Wow! I wish I had read this before paying money to get a few songs rated the other day and have my songs absolutely shredded. In fact, my lamenting that caused someone to recommend this to me. Thank you so much for the article. I found it strange that things that people praised in the reviews were rated 'poor' in the chart and vice-versa. This site is a joke.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    April 26, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Ouch! I know how you feel. Yeah, I wouldn't trust the chart at all, and the reviewers very little.

  • Reply
    Andrew Smith
    July 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I had my doubts when a trumpet on one of my tracks was identified as either a harmonica, trombone, saxophone or a tuba.

  • Reply
    Thisbe Vos
    July 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Excellent post – there are so many articles about internet marketing for musicians out there but very few (if any) from actual musicians who list the details of what they did and what happened when they actually tried those things. I do also believe that different avenues of promotion will have different degrees of success depending on what genre you are in, but since I am also in a nice genre, I will be following your blog with scrutiny!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    July 31, 2011 at 4:01 am

    Thanks Thisbe! I agree – there are plenty of "marketing professionals" out there, with plenty of advice, but few actual case studies.

  • Reply
    Debra Plante
    September 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Definitely questioning their methods. The band I'm promoting is brand new, launched this year. Since April 1st 2011 when they dropped their very first album and live gig simultaneously, they have since been sought after and asked for repeat performances at the same venues, and its only September. Just two days ago, they were asked by House of Blues on Sunset Strip to perform at their red carpet event Oct 2nd. The bands overall rating on soundout was below average, 48%. Strangely, some of the wording in the story above was used in the comments section of the report for my band. Hmmmmm?

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Seems like most of our songs huddle around the middle of the bell curve, which makes sense. If the band fits neatly into one of SoundOut's genres, and you're not sure which song to push, I suppose it might help there.

  • Reply
    Debra Plante
    September 24, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Brian Hazard I read so many comments about how our sounds don't fit into the mainstream of current genres and that concerns me in itself. Makes me wonder who or what invented this algorythym thing. Cant say the word, let alone spell it correctly, but who gives a shit. Get some human taste testers in these things and get rid of the robots. Sonicbids is on my shit list for referring me this crap.

    Do you have a better method of blind testing the market for real feedback? Oh, and if your in LA, the band has a gig at House of Blues Oct 2nd, let me know if you can come.

  • Reply
    Debra Plante
    September 24, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Hey Andre, I can assist in critiquing yours if you do mine. I am an honest hardass critiquer if thats even a word. But I also explain my comments when I have them. More than that, I also hear money when I hear it.

  • Reply
    Odin Al
    October 24, 2011 at 5:50 am

    I actually found this thread, because I was checking to see if they give high scores, in general. My band, Echo Hill, had a song, Gypsy Moon, review of 76%. By the comments, most seemed to have listened for a minute, or two. But I would like each review to show percentage of the song listened to. There were a few suggestions on improvement, and I agreed with a few of them. Some actually said that they didn't like this type of music, so they gave a 5 or below, just in general. But, in all honesty. High score (yes I'm glad we rated so high) or low score, we must do our music for ourselves. Plenty of artists make a huge mark, regardless of initial reception. And many make a mark without ever getting huge. I'm actually glad the music is randomly sent. An ironic comment said that our song was the best song he had ever heard from soundout, but STILL rated us at 4. So there you go…

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Congratulations on a great score! Regardless of our misgivings with their methodology, that's impressive. Still, they set the bar even higher for their promotions! Here's one I recently got:

    "If your track rates above 80% market potential (on SoundOut), it will be listened to by CBS programmers and may well be playlisted on Tomorrow's Hits Today."

    I wonder how many tracks meet that criteria. It would be great if they would feature them somewhere, so we'd could hear the results of their filtering ourselves.

  • Reply
    Odin Al
    October 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Brian Hazard This is the page it's linked to…
    http://player.radio.com/player/RadioPlayer.php?version=1.2.12495&station=61312

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 24, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Al Odin It's playing Bruno Mars for me.

  • Reply
    Odin Al
    October 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Brian Hazard LOL!! yeah… it throws in mainstream here and there. But that was the link from soundout…

  • Reply
    Swheat Brotha Noomsii
    December 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    "MIND OF THE BEHOLDER ENTERTAINMENT",..PRESENT'Z………"THA' RELUCTANT ROK STEDII", (Album: " DoEVerythingInLife", {Coming SooN}.

  • Reply
    Luke Janela
    December 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. The insight into the process was very helpful, and a lot of your thoughts resonated with me. I find two things really kind of iffy about the review process (which I previously did not know anything about, until I found your article)…

    first: 60 seconds. Yeesh. If you are not making radio jams with a prescribed formula, or if your "hook" and build doesn't happen at the "right" time, a lot of folks will not "get" your song.

    second: People are getting paid to review songs all day. I mean, even when I listen to my favorite bands all day long I require change. So it's not, in other words, IMHO, a very natural musical experience for the listener.

    Lastly, and I don't mean to sound snobby, but I listened to the sounds of tomorrow radio station or whatever it is called, and it made me feel better about my mediocre reviews, as I found the station to be flat, boring, pop garbage, same old same old. Which admittedly, is very commercially successful.

    And so, wrapping up my thoughts here, one good thing I am left with is that I should not and really cannot market my music to a mainstream audience. I already knew that, but this process made that abundantly clear to me. In other words, I would rather be a polarizing artist than a yeah-that's-pretty-safe-artist any day. I will take that marketing input and it will help, I am sure of that.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    December 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Absolutely Luke! Find your niche, and don't worry about the mainstream (if there is such a thing anymore). Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Reply
    Jake Fontes
    February 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Excellent review Brian. I might have to try this out. I'm really glad I found your website. This will be my one stop for when I need to know something new about music promotion!

  • Reply
    Tristin Morin
    June 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    That was close! Thanks, homie.

  • Reply
    Lem Parker
    June 15, 2012 at 7:05 am

    BRIAN… I scored 81%…. How do you know if it gets listened to the CBS programmers??? 🙂

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    June 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Lem Parker Wow, nice! I have no idea, sorry.

  • Reply
    Sparkster Hubs
    September 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Slicethepie was aweseom when it first started but now, for me as an artist, I find it useless. By simply uploading one of my electronic tracks at a different time of day the Soundout rating went up from 2.8 to 7.2 – exactly the same track! Then I tried uploading a track which is very well produced and has proven to be a hit on other websites and it scored just 3.8! Soundout doesn't really tell me anything.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 5, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Wow, that's some variation! The fact that your scores don't track with other sites and your own observations calls their methodology into question. To be fair, I did a focus group on Jango, and then a survey of my own, and the favorite track from Jango was the least favorite on the survey.

  • Reply
    Sparkster Hubs
    September 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    My tracks seem to be a lot more popular at Jango. I see you're a mastering engineer, me too!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 8, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Nice! There are worse ways to make a living. 🙂

  • Reply
    Vance Baryn
    October 2, 2012 at 8:14 am

    My recent experience with Soundout was almost exactly what you describe here. I even had several people in the comments of one song refer to the piano part of a song that had no piano! It was very clear that the music was not being reviewed by fans of my style of music. That said, the song that rated the best also is doing the best on Jango, so I guess there is some accuracy there.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 2, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    It's sad to hear that after two years, the service suffers from the same basic flaws. Glad you got something out of it anyway!

  • Reply
    Bumpkin
    October 8, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Been following your blog for a while now, Brian. I appreciate your going out of your way to provide this information on this service and other passive promotion services. I tried Soundout myself with varying results. In my estimation it does not work well for niche artists. The track that i thought would get the highest score, did. I scored at 80% on my highest track, 49% on the lowest. But my real concern is, "How good is that 80%, considering 10 people reviewed it?" And likewise, "How bad really is the 49%, considering only 10 people reviewed it?" And of those 10 reviews of my songs, only about half knew what they were talking about. One or two said they loved the violin in my songs, but none of the songs I uploaded had violins. Thanks again for the blog, man.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Good points! Yeah, it's not exactly a science, is it? Still, I'd be encouraged by that 80%.

  • Reply
    Graham Trust
    December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    http://www.noexit-thevow.co.uk

    Soundout is probably geared to The Vow's genre of indie rock pop. I was fortunate enough to get an 81% rating for my song "Spacedust" and another song "To the end of the world" 79%. I was disappointed with any ratings my album tracks got that were scoring in the 60s. Clearly I shouldn't have been. Regardless of this, some of the comments contradictory, truly upsetting or just plain stupid. One person would comment that the singing is fantastic, pitch perfect, then another will say how poor and tuneless it is! I would recommend not taking too much notice of the comments, just take note of the scores.

    When I submitted my "Spacedust" and other reports to Soundout for the opportunity to be played on the CBS radio channel "Tomorrow's hits today" and to Fontana Distribution for the chance to be heard by up to 150 labels, Soundout congratulated me on my high scores. HOWEVER, despite 2 subsequent emails asking them whether the reports had been forwarded on, I got no response! So I gave up.

    As regards to accuracy, I found Soundout's and Jango's ratings of which were people's favourite songs matched closely. The other thing is about how consistent Soundout's methodology is. I submitted "The dust on my halo" twice, but more than 12 months apart. I was disappointed to only get a score of 65% the first time for the unmastered track. When I resubmitted it after mastering, over a year later, guess what? I got exactly the same score – 65%. That's pretty conclusive proof of the accuracy, I think. The mastering made no difference as the reviewers listen to the songs as mp3s which are a fraction of the sound quality of CD. The reviewers are probably focused on the quality of the song, instrumentation and production. The fine tuning that mastering does, will probably be eradicated by the conversion to mp3.

    My advice is, if you're sensitive to criticism DON'T use Soundout. Please bear in mind that, despite my high ratings, I still haven't made a penny from my music. Soundout do point out that you need a substantial budget behind you to realise hit potential. A record company, manager, agent, plugger, publicists and all the rest of the hit making machinery are generally needed to get that hit and they don't come cheap. You would be better off paying for a few hundred credits on Jango, and don't let the results raise your hopes to unrealistic levels. It's a bit of a bleak message, but only a very lucky few of us will ever achieve commercial success. You need to make music because you love it, and then it won't matter a jot what other people think about it. Just be true to yourself.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    December 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    This is great stuff Graham! Thanks for sharing your results. I agree with your conclusions. Some of those comments, especially the nastier ones, can stick in your head even if they are totally off-base.

    As you pointed out, SoundOut doesn't do much if anything to grow your fanbase. My Jango mailing list adds have really slowed down lately too. I'd say that considering your high scores, it's worth getting serious about direct-to-fan promotion. If you haven't already, grab your domain name, put up your site or at least a Tumblr at that URL, and start hustling Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube with the goal of expanding your mailing list. Sales will come in time.

    Your mix must have been pretty good to begin with if mastering didn't make that much of a difference! With proper encoding, the conversion to mp3 (at least at 320 kbps) shouldn't affect the sound quality to any noticeable degree. I'm in the habit of supplying my mastering clients with both 16-bit .wav and 320 kbps mp3s for every project, so they have everything they need to upload to most sites.

  • Reply
    Sunshine and Decay
    January 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Great article!

    I just looked into SoundOut for myself and have come to the conclusion that the review system at slicethepie (where your SoundOut tracks are played for listeners) is inherently flawed. Here's my reasoning…

    If listeners are being paid as little as $0.03 USD per track you would be lucky to make more than $1/hr and judging by the writing are not generally written by native english speakers. At best what you are getting is a "fun house mirror" of reviews as foreign reviewers try to guess what it is that western radio would play.

    Slicethepie's software also demands certain "standards" for reviews automatically checking submissions to ensure that they fit the requirements While this was done with good intentions the result is that they tend to be somewhat formulaic. Reviewers will stick to saying very similar things to ensure that their reviews pass the software checks. In this way, the software itself becomes a silent contributor to all reviews submitted and could influence your results.

    Any metrics based on such reviews are not necessarily going to be hugely accurate or useful.

    While there may be some benefits, there are certainly far better ways to spend your promotional budget.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    With you 100%. Great analysis!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 13, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Today ReverbNation launched a similar feature: Crowd Reviews. Anyone tried it? http://www.reverbnation.com/crowd_review

    • Reply
      CopeasetiK
      September 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      I’ve read this nearly in its entirety – thus – i am very inclined to agree with brian.

      Ive done 3 different reports with this site through Reverbnation
      I need a 7 Rating or better to reach the ” good ” quality
      Ive conveniently gotten a 6.2-6.7 on all of my attempts.

      Every time that I pay ( Entirely too much ) to have a track reviewed
      I am hopeful that maybe this time i’ll get more than 4-9 Hip-hop / Metal Fans
      to listen to my music. Instead what I find is a pool of EXTREMELY BIAS opinions
      some of which make very little sense while also proving their lack of vocabulary skills
      when i read things such as
      ” I think the song’s message, lyrics, and structure could be explained more clearly. What exactly is the message and meaning of the song. ” – Real quote from Soundout – Through Reverbnation

      The first few lines of my song
      ” Lessons Incandescent when stepping towards my progression – I guess that the blessing is resurrection – Cause when neglected – This Direction is at its Best when – Its weapons in karma’s possession ” – The Metaphorical ground was easily touched hear for anyone with an ear for real hip-hop or atleast a firm grasp on the english language .

      Here is a few reviews i recieved from Soundout From the same song ” Resurrection of Fire ”
      ( Which has a famous Metal band singing the chorus ” INTHISMOMENT ” )

      THE GOOD :
      ” His style is really unique. I have never heard anything like this is a while. I believe he could make it , I like the rock style in this arrangement and the track is just so tight . Its amazing how they rapped this into a cool little song. I think the melody could improve, but this is off the chain great writing and creativity. ”
      ” The music is very appealing right from the beginning, drawing the listener in fairly quickly. When the intro concludes and the music truly begins the song gets very good. The dubstep like bass sounds was a very unique was of writing a song. The vocalist was very intense but did a very good job with this style of music. The whole song appears to be very intense but in a good way. It has a very epic feel to it and is extremely appealing to listen to. The only part that isn’t good is the sudden and abrupt ending. Due to the song being cut off I’m not able to do a perfect review of course. From what I heard of the lyrics, they are done pretty well and work with the tone of the music. The vocalist worked very well with music as well, changing his tone as it got more intense. The chorus was pretty good too but the levels of the singer could have been boosted.”

      ” Love how this song has an edgy and sad begining then just hits with all this crazyness. To start the dubstep noises are amazing love how you didnt expect that in any way. The rapper in this has a good voice. He sounds like someone you can follow and sing along with not only does he rap but he sings amazing. Usually dont like lyrics that are scramed but this is an exception because just fits so well.” < — this person couldnt tell that it wasnt me singing the chorus
      “This song was amazing, I loved the mix of rap and a heavier tone that this singer displayed throughout the piece. The ans skill was immense, his ability to sing, his range of pitch and vocal tone was just, just amazing to be honest. I thought that this piece was initially going to be a terrible song, but the moment it began to get heavier almost immediately after the first chorus ended I was pleasantly surprised. I was a bit irritated that the background sound didn’t exactly evolve as the song progressed, but this seems to me to be a case where that was of little consequence and didn’t affect the overall feel of the song. 9 out of 10 ”

      ” Very ominous vibe right when it comes in then the mad vibes flow in. This rapper is crazy with his words and has unreal flow. The second vocalist is just as awesome and going in hard. The instrumentals have so much movement, and everything is mixed so well. WOW THIS CHORUS IS SO EPIC! Unbelievable chord progressions mad sound design, and a very loud master volume. I’m definitely going to check these guys out and follow them. ”
      ” I felt myself dancing to this song nice intro! The screaming was a little over the top if you toned it down a bit it would be perfect. I would love to hear more music by you guy can perfect see this song being a hit! Loved it definitely keep up the good work ”

      ” The song begins with a subtle dubstep glitch synth and then immediately goes into incredibly forceful and passionate lyrics. The singer goes from rapping to singing to screaming and back to singing seamlessly. It is incredibly effective and successful. The lyrics go by quite quickly but if I were to listen to it several times I would clearly understand them. The rhythm is phenomenal and drives the song quickly and efficiently. The synth is blended with heavy grinding guitar perfectly. The two meld together to create an incredibly unique sound that work exceptionally well. While a little unconventional, I think this song would perform quite well commercially. The crafting of the track and the quality of the song really shines.”

      ” I like this kind of music a lot. It has screamo and alternative type to it. The lyrics are very well done. I love how it goes from regular slow tempo to a screamo, then to the chorus. The breakdown in this song is amazing. I can see myself buying this track, along with others from this artist, and playing this music while I am doing stuff around the house, or driving around town. I give this song a 9 because it flows together so well! ”
      ” When it first started i thought hang on i know this track? realized it was a sample of in this moments “burn” and it does go really well with the style of the track,the vocals are great and strong also great lyrics a song i would listen to and think would have widespread commercial success.Overall a very professional sounding song ”

      ( My favorite one i think… lmao )
      ” Intro was strong and loved the piano, the vocalist has a strong voice that is very confident, the lyrics are different and intriguing, the arrangement is very clever and something that I have never heard before, the melody is catchy and never stops surprising, this song could have potential in the charts and maybe be a movie soundtrack’

      There where a few other somewhat positive reviews.. but you get the point

      Now THE BAD :

      ” the intro is a bit scary, even though it has a piano it still souds creapy and i really didnt like it. oh well, it is a rap…i dont like rap… at all. i dont know i just feel like it sounds stressfull. i hate the singer screaming and the swears and i dont know, it doesnt sound harmonious.I HATED THE SCREAMS!! A LOT! that was horrible, aweful and very ridiculous. it is definitely not a song. it is not music it is noise. i hated! couldnt be more disappointed. it was such a waste of my time to hear this rubbish song. the singers have a good voice but i dont understand why they try that hard to make their voices so horrible and stressfull to hear. the melody and beat was ok though, well until the part where it became just a big mess when the singers started screaming a lot and sounds like monsters. I hated that ”

      “A bit of a slow introduction that establishes a good beat but doesn’t really build up to the track. The vocalist begins a bit suddenly, and he has a very aggressive tone. Its not really for me to be honest its just too much. He is going too quickly to really be heard, and then there is a sort of white noise sound. It did not like this song, its chaotic and disjointed. There is just too much going on and not enough musical elements. Then all of a sudden it stops! As if it just cuts out. Not impressed.”

      ” The song sound creepy especially at the beginning. i have the vision that somebody just died. The rapper has a good delivery and he is wise with his word play. The song is catchy and keeps you in tune. The song has a lot of substance. I dont like how the rapper begins to yell he was sounding good until he started doing that. The chorus is horrible and i dont like the fact he yells at the top of his lungs it sounds a bit demonic in my opinion. The song was good but then takes a weird turn so in that case the song is not so good.”

      ” This is a typical hip hop song. You’re either going to love it or your’e going to hate it depending on what your taste in music is. I didn’t think the rhymes were that bad but the song is a little overemotional and overdone vocally at times. Made me cringe on a couple of occasions. The song is a little disjointed and all over the map on a couple of occasions. I think it’ll appeal to it’s target audience, but not much beyond that. It’s a song that is going to appeal to fans of artists such as Jay Z and Linkin Park as it’s kind of a mix of rap and nu metal music, oddly enough.”

      ” Cool beat and rythm. I didnt like the rapping and voice of this artist i found him very annoying. And as soon as the screaming began i was over it. Music like this to me seams outdated and irelevant. ”

      ” I don’t like this type of music because it sound too dark, more like devils music. The screaming is killer!!! Literally. I would have a headache after listen to a track like this. This song would not make it huge in this industry, I can see this track being performed at a hole in the wall night club for open mic night. The people that like this type of music may love it, because this is what they are into, i personally cant get with it now or ever. On a positive note, the instrumentals, lyrics and vocals match perfectly. The right beat for the right type of song.”
      “There was a cl assical style to this in the beginning that didn’t make sense. It sounded much too cheery for the electronic beat. The rap vocals were odd. They sounded like ICP the way they stopped spastically. They had a lot of darkness to them. There was a definite alternative style in there as well with the screaming and distorted guitar. It was an odd mixture for sure. IT had a lot of different styles to it, none that were all too modern. The whole thing needed more harmonies and better sound quality. I don’t believe this was mixed very well.”
      ” Tough to this single entering the market. R&B and hardcore metal do not mix. Constant screaming down the mic is not needed. Non the less this tune needs to be worked on, to make the vocalists sound more genuine. This single is not my cup of tea ”

      My over all Score.. ” 6.2″ rating with a 43% market rating
      similar artists : Jay-Z – Linking Park – Nirvana
      The Artist (Myself) and my Lyrics where 55% on the ” elements of a track ” chart
      Yet with the non – rap or non metal fans – I was DESTROYED in the rating on this track.
      A waste of 40-50$

      This is an example of the Word cloud – which is a visualization that reveals what emotions and key themes the reviewers mentioned most often in the reviews. The larger the word the more it was used by the reviewers when describing the track. however im not going to go through to Process the HTML to show their differences in size..
      I will however say ” beat – tune – mix – Begining – intense – appealing – love – amazing – lyrics – dark -rapping – flow – rhythm – perfect- catchy – rapper – style – strong – intro – Screaming And Different ” Where among the largest.
      slow case dubstep arrangement mix tune instrumental flow piano amazing rhythm messy changes singer beat potential sense backing rapping chorus quality radio quick beginning intense appealing love noise tone cool perfect commercial powerful heavy park screaming enjoyable rapper different pretty catchy metal intro lyrics effects dark rock style melody strong .

      If the Votes could be drastically less bias – which seems simple – very simple – to accomplish – this may be a worthy outlit for song validation – however – you cant show a group of N-sync Fans an Eminem Album and expect them to give Eminem a good review. Thats all im saying.
      You have to be able to cater to the crowds its targeted to if you want to find any sort of legitimate commercial appeal with this site.

      My opinion : If you sound like nickleback – Kesha or Bieber – This site is DEFINITELY for you. You will find the largest new pool of fans youve ever imagined.
      However , If you’re a talented artist in a sub genre of music , or even a popular one, Who puts a large effort into uniqueness , creativity and Want to be known for you OWN sound – not lil wayne or Chad krogers – then this is VERY likely NOT for you.

      • Reply
        Brian Hazard
        September 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        Thanks for sharing your experience! Very similar to my own.

        It’s funny how people will come right out and say they don’t like your style of music. Kind of hard to work past that!

        I’m beta testing the new version of AudioKite. It was better than SoundOut before, but now it’s not even close.

  • Reply
    J Todd Dunnigan
    March 13, 2013 at 1:40 am

    I won't go into every detail of my SoundOut experience, suffice it to say it's very much in line with what I'm reading in the rest of the thread. I will say that sites like this really seem to cater to the lowest common denominator type of fans, fans who will like your songs for the most boring and superficial reasons, i.e."it had a good beat, I could dance to it" and doesn't really speak to the fans who will really get into your music.

  • Reply
    Trinity Ward
    March 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Brian, Reverbnation Crowd Reviews are "powered by SoundOut". Maybe you could add that in your article on SoundOut so people know there is no difference.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 18, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    You actually just did, assuming they read the comments! Thank you for the clarification!

  • Reply
    RJ Comer
    March 23, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Thanks, I appreciate your thorough approach and discussion. Who are the reviewers and where are they from? My concern with SoundOut is the high number of reviews that appear to be written by people whose English skills indicates they may not be native English speakers, i.e., not a Western English speaking music consumer. Now, certainly music is a worldwide market, but being a world traveler myself, I can say that tastes vary widely even comparing America to Europe. What Asians think is good pop and rock music would astound westerners. So I wonder if SoundOut is valid critique of say an American roots rock track.

  • Reply
    RJ Comer
    March 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I can't say that the song ratings are completely useless. They tend to provide helpful snapshot and often there's some important reality checks in them. But being an Americana rock musician I'd like to be assured that most of the reviewers have grasp of the cultural context of the music.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 24, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    As far as I know, the qualification for being a reviewer is having an internet connection. I wouldn't be surprised if a large percentage of reviewers were in places with a favorable exchange rate. Cultural or otherwise, context overall seems to be lacking.

  • Reply
    Matthew E. Stone
    April 10, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Look up Fifty Dollar Dynasty's song Infinity. It got 80%. Dunno if they sent it anywhere.

  • Reply
    Dean G Wolfe
    June 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Your blog is so helpful. Thanks so much for it…a happy and useful discovery

  • Reply
    Randal Scott Hunter
    September 6, 2013 at 7:14 am

    slicethepie.com is quite annoying. It nags about writing a certain type of report. Problem is, I don't know what exactly the perfect review is to them. I am a manager that just tried it out to hear some new music and it nagged me every review. As an experienced music producer, musician, and now manager. The algorithm or whatever it is doesn't recognize "REAL" music terms. I can't review the way I want to. I found myself quickly losing interest.

  • Reply
    Randal Scott Hunter
    September 6, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I definitely do not believe the creators to actually be music personnel. Probably just a bunch a nerdy programmers trying to capture a growing market with a cool app lol

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 7, 2013 at 12:38 am

    My experience exactly!

  • Reply
    Rainy Dust
    September 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Hey Brian, Great thread! I came across you on soundout whilst researching the new crowd review feature on reverbnation. I've realised that RN are using soundout for this feature. I payed for two tracks to be reviewed and purposefully submitted two that are a little different but accessible. Both are in a 6 time signature and are a mix of west african rhythms and singer songwriter styles ( sounds a bit muso I know, but I think they are both pretty accessible).

    I had 20 reviews each and most were really positive by far…… very flattering indeed. Unfortunately it gained me a rather disappointingly average score.

    I started to get suspicions when someone reffered to a horn section that they didn't like at the end of a track. There are no horns on the track or anything even remotely sounding like horns. I also had a couple of passive aggressive comments about not being in time. Which I guess you are going to get when folks haven't heard a rhythm in 6 before?

    Which brings into question just who exactly are reviewing these tracks? Should their music tastes not be matched to the styles of the artist to some degree in order to give some context to the critique?

    My heavily percussive shuffle track 'Lift' was dissmissed as 'just too like Dido'. By that point the mild feeling of joy I had experienced when first starting to read had dropped to a rumbling mistrust. A dought crept in that the reviewer had even heard the track they were ment to be reviewing! I'm not sure quite what's going on?

    Many of the reviews mentioned that they would love to know who the artist was and would definitely buy the music if only they knew who it was. A few said they could hear it on the tv or radio. It suddenly hit me I had waisted my money as there is no link to the artist they are listening to! This being my soul purpose of trying this service out. To reach discerning music fans who still want to buy music. Needless to say I won't be spending money on 'Crowd Review' again.

    Im not sure my music is your kind of thing but I really enjoyed reading your blog on the subject and if you'd like to hear some 'out of time west african Dido esk' tunes (or not) then do pop over and say hi 🙂

    Cheers Rainy

    http://rainyandthedust.bandcamp.com

    http://rainyandthedust.com

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 11, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Didn't you hear? Sting and Dave Matthews Band are the only ones allowed to use odd time signatures! Especially with horn sections ;). Well, it sounds like you got *something* out of the experience – at least a general feeling of what "the public" might think. It'll make you think twice about composing your next piece in 5/16, won't it?

    As for who is reviewing these tracks? Anybody willing to work for pennies an hour. It wouldn't surprise me if they set up keyboard macros and a few standardized reviews to insert if they fit "close enough."

    I can sort of understand why they keep it anonymous, though I wouldn't mind the option of including a link to the band.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Reply
    Deanna Grenier-Mullins
    September 20, 2013 at 4:32 am

    I'm so glad to read your review of SoundOut. I received bizarre Crowd Review feedback on a song I paid to have reviewed on ReverbNation. One reviewer referred to the vocalist as male (uh, no.). Several reviews made no sense at all. Some reviewers, whether they loved the song or hated it, demonstrated that they were a real person who actually listened to my song. 44% of the reviewers compared me to Prince. Or so it says. It just so happens the word prince is in my song. I'm not in the same genre as Prince. That was very weird. I scored 6.6 overall and had been initially disheartened. I found myself wanting to know the median and the range, not just the mean. Or the score broken down by age/gender, which ReverbNation does not offer. But your article puts everything in perspective. Thank you!!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    September 20, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It's obvious the reviewers are working as fast as they can to earn their pennies, with little regard to the actual music.

  • Reply
    Andrew Ferris
    October 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I wish I'd read this before I submitted to ReverebNation's Crowd review. I did get a 78% free report on SoundOut but I had some hilarious comments. I think I may have just wasted $19.99….

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 8, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I'd say that was worth $20!

  • Reply
    Blue Velvo
    October 30, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Brian this is an excellent post, I too have recently submitted a song for review and got some truly hilarious comments strangely similar to some of the comments others have also received and posted here things like non existent Instrumentation, unknown female vocals…etc.. After reading all the reviews I had the feeling that the reviews were from some type of classroom assignment where you have the witty and thoughtful 'A' student – handing in a well written paragraph along side the slacker student 'C' student that just writes because he/she has to… And as some people point out below in some cases it did seem that English was not the primary language. So yes It could be from some Euro- High school Rock and Roll 101 class…. All in all I did enjoy reading all the reviews and even though my score was a 5.9 there were some real gems to balance out the other comments! ..like this one: “I'm usually not into country songs, but… if this song would be food, I'd have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, served by this stylish vocal of a talented singer.” perhaps itsfrom some midwest 12th grade English class homework assignment! anyway… we LOVE IT!!

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    October 30, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    What a metaphor! Glad you at least got some enjoyment out of your reviews.

  • Reply
    Chuck Vermette Sr
    November 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    1) Anyone who has the time to work for 20 cents a review isn't someone with any clout in the industry. Some provide viable feedback; others (way too many) are the type that troll message boards, and probably don't have much of a life beyond their keyboards. The inarticulateness of many of the reviews points to this, particularly when you write music that requires you have some knowledge of literature, history, current events, and various scriptures of different beleif systems.
    2) If they are getting a flat fee per review, they're more likely to hurry through their reviews. Not conducive to constructive criticism.
    3) I'm interested in the opinion of a cross section of MY audience. Not a GENERAL audience. As stated before, I do something within a specific niche. I'm interested in criticsm from people who know what I'm trying to do and can help me make it better. I'm not interested with someone whit a limited perspicacity who just says "I don't get it".
    4) For some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism: a) give me a brief profile of the reviewer with age and favorite music. If someone is 18, and their favorite groups do death metal, I'm not concerned with their opinion, because they are not the audience I'm aiming at.
    b) provide a way to report abusive reviews. Yes, there are assholes in this industry who don't know the basic rules of common courtesy, but I'm not paying for their opinions. When I do, I expect civility.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    November 24, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    With you 100% Chuck! Better targeting for both the artist and the listener would be invaluable, and worth paying more for. Pretty sure it's not a flat fee per review though. Better reviews earn more money.

  • Reply
    Chris Damphouse
    December 18, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Crowd review is a totally scam , no consistency half love it half hate it. The only true judge is live crowds

  • Reply
    Stuart James Wright
    January 4, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Great post Brian. I've used the crowd review process on Reverbnation and the results tie in quite neatly with the download/play ratio of each of the songs. I have to agree that it is fairly useless if you are in a very narrow niche but as a guide to how my music comes across to the general listener I've found the comments made can be enlightening. It is one of the few ways of getting unbiased feedback.
    To get the most out of the reviews and take something positive out of the investment I came up with a process. I printed them out and ran a line through all the comments from those who obviously didn't like my genre or were blatantly aggressive. This left me with the more measured reviews. If someone then states that they really like the track I take a mental note of their reasoning. In my opinion this is the information that is most useful to get those elusive "1000 true fans".

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 6, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience! Glad to hear you feel you got your money's worth. I wonder how much this audience is reflective of the general public, considering the listener's goal is to get through the songs as quickly as possible to collect the most nickels. Still, depending on how you analyze the results, it can certainly be useful – for example, picking which of your songs to promote.

  • Reply
    Chris Newton
    January 29, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    should try tonearena, its free….only thing is you never know when somebody will review your song….

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    January 30, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Never heard of it! Thanks for the heads up Chris!

  • Reply
    Dale Spires
    February 13, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Is there any other review process out there that we can contact. We also did a crowd review through reverb and we scored an average 7 to 7.5 on six songs. we swallowed the the whole piece of bait and hook and went for the GOLD. The reviews reflect what our live response has been telling us at our performances. My problem is on our best songs out of 200 hundred reviewers we only had ten people rate it below a 7. The problem is these ten hate country music and made comments about things in the songs that don't exist? also most of those people were average age 16 yes I said 16. At 16 they don't know which end to wipe much less technical process in recordings and song writing. This group all gave a big fat 0 so you average score comes down to 7.5.WHAT? Let me say that we have used these reviews in convincing local radio to play some of our songs and once they were aired audience appeal did the rest. To sum up my thoughts about this is that Im not sure if it is worth it or not. It feels a bit half ass as does most of everything else that goes with reverbnation

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      In fact, there is a much better way to get your songs listened to by people with serious reach! Not only can you get quality feedback, but they may help spread the word as well. It’s a new service called Fluence that I hope to write about soon. I’m an “influencer” there myself, and you can submit directly to me at http://fluence.io/colortheory.

  • Reply
    Dale Spires
    March 11, 2014 at 5:24 am

    The review process for reverbnation or sound out Has one major flaw related to the featured artist process on Reverb. We submitted six songs for the 200 person review and averaged 6.9 to 7.8. The overwhelming majority were in fact very positive but here is the flaw. We are a country act with a more traditional country flavor and we were reviewed by 13, 14, 15, 16, year old kids as well as 30 and up adults. The younger reviewers consistently stated how much they hate country music and they began to bash the song and criticize things that weren’t even in the songs? Why would you not break down you songs to be reviewed by genre so people that listen to that genre give an opinion. When you get these stupid reviews that result in a rating of 1 because they hate a genre well that destroys your chance at being featured on reverbnation. I won’t be spending any money on this CRAP anymore. There are a couple of things that you could possibly learn from the reviews and that being what age group you appeal to the most and how well you do with that group and how well you do with the male or female gender other than that there is NO VALUE to the crowd review from sound out or Reverbnation

    • Reply
      Audiokite Music Research
      March 31, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Hey Dale! Your comments – along with many others in this thread – are totally valid. Just on a basic level, what’s the point of hearing a bunch of random opinions from strangers who don’t listen to your genre anyway, and in some cases may have not even heard your song?

      At Audiokite Research, we’ve created a much better way to get real insight into your songs with verified listeners and genre targeting. Sorry for the direct sales pitch, but it sounds like you’re looking for exactly what we offer, so take a look at http://www.audiokite.com/ and feel free to send me an email at alex@audiokite.com if you’d like to know more.

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    March 11, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    You’re right Dale! That’s a major oversight on SoundOut’s part.

    It’s been so long since I’ve written this article that I don’t remember the signup process anymore, but you should really be asked to check a few boxes for your favorite genres, and only be asked to rate songs in that genre.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, and helping others make a more informed decision!

  • Reply
    Jefferson Montoya (@jeffertoya)
    July 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Great article.
    I started reviewing songs in this system purely out of curiosity and it took only about 7 songs to realize the system can’t possibly work.

    You do get to hear each song all the way through but you must listen to at least the first 90 seconds. That means that someone, somewhere is probably doing the bare minimum after hearing half of your song.

    Further, the system has the previously mentioned nasty issue of not giving preferred genres to reviewers. I, for one, don’t care to listen to any song that is slathered with an unhealthy helping of autotune. So, the third or fourth consecutive song with that annoying technique that came to me was bound to get an even less loving review. Someone who was into that genre might have felt it was great. Me? Not so much. And that means that I probably don’t get the subtleties of the genre enough to fairly rate it in comparison to other songs.

    I’ve also written reviews which were clearly not celebrations of the song and then rated the song a 2 or 3 out of 10. The system has prompted me that my “review does not match your rating. If this is correct please try again”.

    It’s probably not worth it to pay this service for reviews.

    Peace & Song,
    J

    • Reply
      ctheory11
      July 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Yeah, the shortcomings really become obvious once you try it yourself from the listener end. Feed me enough music I don’t like and my reviews will get nastier out of pure spite! 😉

  • Reply
    Brian Hazard
    December 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I can’t imagine it’s easy to find genuine experts in New Age (or synthpop for that matter!). Hopefully at least some of the comments were helpful. I’m sure most just don’t “get it.”

  • Reply
    Frank Joseph De Salvo
    February 3, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Crowd Review is an absolute ripoff and scandal – I create instrumental music and 80% of the reviews I received criticized the vocal arrangement or lyrical content.

    Other fraudulent remarks included negative marks for instruments that never appeared in any of my arrangements, such as a guitar solo or bass in a piano track.

    When you choose this service from Reverbnation, you are paying for legitimate criticism – not some kid who only gets to listen to 90 seconds of your music and comments on the solo at the 3 minute mark. The majority of what I have received is cut and paste text that has nothing to do with my music and in many cases, these people are leaving me terrible reviews which is impacting my music’s potential – and they haven’t even listened.

    I want someone to get back to me about this.

    • Reply
      Audiokite Research
      February 3, 2015 at 8:53 am

      Joseph, we feel your pain.

      We have no idea what’s going on with SoundOut, the service that powers Reverb Nation Crowd Review and TuneCore Track Smarts, but we do know what makes Audiokite Reports great.

      Get in touch with someone at help@audiokite.com and we’ll give you a free Audiokite Report to try, so at least you can get some value out of your experience. We care about musicians, and so do our listeners.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 3, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      I absolutely wouldn’t count on any of these services for sonic advice. It’s safe to assume people are mostly listening on earbuds and laptop speakers.

      That said, it’s probably what they normally listen to music on, so their general impressions are valid.

  • Reply
    Eve
    March 9, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I just received this review on reverbnation crowd review:

    “star north lake rake track a at sit. look book crook just zebra apple. fruit you true. trust in best song ive ever heard food look. just listen to the we are the people who love this song create this musical genious love it. so much in at a who whom demand house how can.”

    Say what?

    Another person was truly offended by my “filthy language” saying that the “rap melody was disgusting and uneven. The rhyming was out of order and it was not a free verse. The suggestive themes that were said by this vocalist shocked me. I am outraged what i had to listen to.”

    The song I submitted was a classic rock/soft pop track with no curse words or suggestive content whatsoever. What a waste of money paying for that useless service.

    • Reply
      Audiokite Research
      March 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Eve, I’m terribly sorry to hear about your experience with Reverb Nation Crowd Review; musicians should be using data they trust.

      I’d like to offer you a free report from Audiokite Research if you shoot me an email at alex@audiokite.com – our reports benefit from sophisticated verification methods that make sure you don’t get bogus reviews. Let me know!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      March 10, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Wow, that’s a shame Eve. Obviously their quality control leaves something to be desired.

  • Reply
    Meade Skelton
    July 5, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I sing Country and I tried it on reverb nation. Since many people aren’t into my genre of music, I don’t see how its possible to get a decent fair review. Even people who enjoy the song somewhat will comment that they don’t usually listen to Country Music or whatever. Their loss. But I don’t see how the reviews can be helpful or professional. The songs should be pitched to people who enjoy the genre in which your song fits.

    Some of the reviews are even misspelled and some contain syntax errors or just plain unintelligible. I did have 1 Country Pop tune that went over really well. But I have to admit that some of the “peer reviews” can be kick in the teeth. It seems they don’t know much about art or what goes into it. The most common themes they use are “boring” or “dated” Its like they only know the current Top 40 format.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      July 8, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Another case where you’d probably be better off with AudioKite. You’re clearly not reaching potential fans. Sorry to hear about your poor experience Meade!

  • Reply
    Fauxie Dao Jia
    October 14, 2016 at 4:26 am

    This was a very interesting read. What actually brought me here was an e-mail I just received from SoundOut talking about crowdfunding they’re planning to do next month. I searched for more info on the company and this was a page that came up. For a bit of background, I’m an English guy who earns (some of) his living online doing ‘crowdwork’, categorising websites and the like, and various projects to do with voice assistants for mobile phones. I’m a bit of a hustler (unemployable perhaps?) and not too proud to do anything, so I have also ‘worked’ on sites like slicethepie. Now, I started with slicethepie when I was in England. I now live in Thailand and in truth I’m not supposed to be able to review from here. There’s even a bit of text at the top when I log in saying that I’m not able to due to my location. However, with the latest incarnation of the site despite this text I’m still perfectly able to write reviews and get paid (I mean… technically).

    So anyway, a few years back when I started doing it I could get $0.20 to $0.30 per review, which for me made for worthwhile beer money. It has always been a bit of a slog, but back then at those rates it was worth doing for 30 mins to an hour sometimes if my other work was quiet. Better than nothing. I write well enough, as you can see, and have worked as an ESL teacher out here in Thailand. I studied music production for a year, play a little, and sing quite well, and listen to a lot of music, including The Roots, Prince, Kishi Bashi, Beck, Utada Hikaru, Sarah Vaughan, The Smiths, Beach Boys… so pretty diverse. I love music. I think I can review music even outside of genres I listen to most and offer valuable insights. I feel like I should be an ideal reviewer for something like slicethepie. However, my star rating (3/5) says otherwise. From what I’ve read on this page it looks like this rating is a result of how well my reviews and scoring have tallied against tracks’ actual subsequent chart success, which suggests I don’t quite know what I’m talking about when it comes to whether a song will be popular or not (though I would posit how good a song is is something else).

    As a reviewer, the issue I always had with the site is glitches. You need to understand, you can write thoughtful, insightful reviews of a good length, every one different and tailored specifically to the song being listened to, and when submitting up comes (effectively) the ‘nope’ message. This can be warning of being repetitive, not mentioning enough of this or that, sounding too similar to an earlier review, and so on. Sometimes an almost total rewrite is needed to get the thing to submit. My original reviews were what I wanted to say, but what ends up submitted is whatever it took to get it submitted. This is not good! Finally, the other issue I have is that these days I get $0.03 per review unless it’s a bonus track, in which case I get $0.13. I don’t do anything but the bonus ones anymore for obvious reasons, and honestly I’m only doing the bonus ones of late, having not done any reviews on there for best part of a year, to crawl over the finish line that is the $10 cashout amount.

    I could provide excellent reviews (about arrangement, levels, playing, production values, along with the highly technical what I like and what I don’t like) if not for glitches, and happily so for $0.20 a pop, but slicethepie just isn’t quite the thing for that for me, and especially now more than ever in the time I’ve been signed up to it (maybe 3 or 4 years?). I’ve read all that above in their response in the comments, about their algorithms and stats, but from being a reviewer for quite some time and dabbling in music myself, I don’t really feel confident in the whole enterprise and its ability to deliver as claimed. I think on the surface (and indeed in the feedback received, by the look of it), it all comes over as more professional and credible than it really is. I think underneath it all, in the guts of it, it’s a bit mickey mouse and messy.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      October 15, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Thanks for sharing your perspective as a reviewer!

      I remember that “nope” message all too well. So frustrating!

      And the payouts are ridiculously low. In fact, I would be willing to pay more for a premium review, where only top tier reviewers receive, say, $0.50.

      I haven’t heard about their crowdfunding push, but I’m sure it’ll turn up in my feed.

      From where I stand, Audiokite is so far superior that I don’t see the point. Have you tried reviewing for them through Amazon MTurk?

    Share Your Thoughts