Crowd Review Track Smarts: SoundOut vs AudioKite vs Music Xray

UPDATE: ReverbNation acquired Audiokite in November of 2016, and improved upon it with their new Crowd Review product, which I review here.

This is the story of a mediocre song. An objectively mediocre song. My song. Curse you, data!

If you’re looking for unbiased feedback on your latest track, you’ve got five options. Well, five-ish.

There’s SoundOut, which I wrote about way back in 2010.

Then there’s ReverbNation Crowd Review and TuneCore Track Smarts, both of which are powered by SoundOut.

Are all three SoundOut services the same? We’ll find out.

I reviewed AudioKite earlier this year, gushingly. A new and improved version launched just this month.

Finally, Music Xray offers a diagnostics feature, which presents your track to 5 music professionals and 20 potential fans.

Which is right for you?

Time for a good old-fashioned market research shootout!

I submitted a brand new Color Theory song to all five:

Pricing and Options

Of the three SoundOut flavors, ReverbNation Crowd Review offers the lowest point of entry at $10 for 20 reviews. TuneCore Track Smarts starts at $15 for 40 reviews. Both of these options provide extremely limited reporting.

Going through SoundOut directly starts at $45 for 125 reviews, but offers more detail.

I opted for the cheapest reports from SoundOut and ReverbNation Crowd Review, and the enhanced report ($40) from TuneCore Track Smarts. That’s $95 on SoundOut reports, out of my own pocket by the way! (love you guys)

Note that submitting to TuneCore Track Smarts requires that the track already be in distribution through TuneCore. This is not the place to get feedback on a work in progress! I had no plans to distribute the track as a single, but I paid the $10 to distribute it for a year, just to get this report.

ReverbNation Crowd Review and TuneCore Track Smarts offer zero options, but should at least place your track in the correct genre. SoundOut lets you select the genre yourself and opt in to potential sync opportunities (why not?). You can also pay $6 to keep your track anonymous. Why charge for that?

AudioKite starts at $10 for 50 reviews. That’s 2.5x as many as ReverbNation Crowd Review for the same price, with much more detailed reporting.

Alex at AudioKite offered me a free report, so I went for the $100 model with all the bells and whistles. 300 EDM/Dance fans were required to listen to at least 2 minutes of my song (versus 1 minute on SoundOut), and respond to a question of my choosing (“How can I make this song better?”). A link to my website was included. I also had the option to let listeners know the track is a work in progress, which I did not select.

Music Xray Diagnostics is the most straightforward of the bunch. It’s $10 for 5 professional ratings and 20 potential fan plays, period. The tool is intended as a gateway into the other opportunities they offer.

As an aside, if you’d like to submit your music directly to individual professionals, Fluence is the way to go.  I’ve been using it for months on the music professional side, and plan to write about it soon. Feel free to submit your content to me here for feedback. If I like it, I may share it with my not-insubstantial following on Twitter.

Delivery Time

The AudioKite 300 listener report came back first, after only a couple days. Their FAQ says 5-14 days for 200+ listener reports, so I guess I got lucky.

SoundOut took 5 days for 125 reviews, and TuneCore Track Smarts took a week for 100 reviews.

ReverbNation Crowd Review never sent a reminder, which could very well be my fault, as I’m in the habit of turning off email notifications. After nine days, I noticed the score on my manage songs page and clicked through to the report.

Music Xray is frustrating on many levels. The diagnostics page won’t consistently load in Safari, and when it does, there’s a memory leak. After a week, 4 out of 5 professionals rated the track, but none of the 20 potential fans heard it. It appears I forgot to hit the “target fans” button, which doesn’t actually work from my diagnostics page. I finally got it rolling from my dashboard.

The Reports

What does $215 worth of market research look like?

I suggest opening each report in a separate browser tab to compare them item by item.

SoundOut Report

TuneCore Track Smarts Report

ReverbNation Crowd Review Report

Audiokite Report

Music Xray Diagnostics

SoundOut vs. TuneCore Track Smarts vs. ReverbNation Crowd Review

So how did the three flavors of SoundOut compare?

SoundOut, TuneCore Track Smarts and ReverbNation Crowd Review gave my song Market Potential scores of 36%, 32%, and 44%, respectively.

Pretty close! The most extensive/expensive report (SoundOut) scored it between the other two, suggesting a higher degree of accuracy.

Same idea with the overall Track Rating scores: 5.8, 5.6, 6.1.

Things diverge quite a bit with the Song Element Analysis though:

SoundOut song element analysis
TuneCore Track Smarts song element analysis
ReverbNation Crowd Review song element analysis

The three services can’t agree on the best and worst elements of my track, probably because the elements in question are ambiguous. Does the average listener know the difference between production and instrumentation – and “track,” whatever that means? What is the relationship between artist and commerciality?

If the listeners know, it’s not reflected in these charts. My “artist” score nearly doubled between SoundOut and Crowd Review. My vocals scored consistently low, but I take some solace in the fact that the vocals get a poor rating in every SoundOut report I’ve seen. I blame The Voice.

SoundOut pairs demographic information with each review, and Track Smarts includes each reviewer’s rating. I wouldn’t mind seeing both!

My ReverbNation Crowd Review report doesn’t include listener demographics, or pair the reviews with ratings, but it does include similar artists:

ReverbNation Crowd Review similar artists

Depeche Mode, sure. But Panic at the Disco? GENESIS?

It turns out those artist names were pulled algorithmically from the reviews. Here’s where “Genesis” came from:

“They take me back to a time where the Sega Genesis took up most of my time playing Streets of Rage.”

Translation: My song reminds the listener of a video game on the Sega Genesis console. In other words, 8-bit. Chiptune. That makes sense.

Despite its flaws, if I wanted a SoundOut report, I’d opt for the $10 ReverbNation Crowd Review. The broad strokes are close enough to the more expensive varieties, and I find the written reviews most useful anyway.


But why spend $10 on ReverbNation Crowd Review when you can get a better report with 2.5x as many listeners for the same price from Audiokite?

Audiokite elements

First and foremost, the song elements make sense. “Sound Quality” is easier for your average listener to understand than “Production.” “Instrumental Performance” is clearer than “Instrumentation,” which typically refers to the selection of instruments in the arrangement, not how they are played. I especially like that Audiokite has a rating for “Beat (Drums & Bass).”

Audiokite averages

Seeing how my song compares to the Billboard Top 100 Average is sobering. I can’t in good conscience say my song is “better than the crap they play on the radio!”

Audiokite scored the track’s commercial potential at 55% and gave it a general rating of 6.1, the same as ReverbNation Crowd Review. I wouldn’t make a habit of comparing scores across platforms though, as the calculations are naturally going to vary.

Music Xray Diagnostics

I’ve so far received 4 of my 5 professional ratings, and 7 of my 20 plays by potential new fans. I’m sick of waiting.

Here are my results:

Music Xray ratings

I don’t know who these professionals are, or what they are professionals at. The site explains that they are “serious professionals from among our over 1500 professional users currently seeking songs and talent.” So, that.

Like with SoundOut, the song elements are ambiguous and overlapping. Can a 5-star composition have low hit potential, or a weak arrangement? Why no ratings for vocals or lyrics, arguably the most important elements of a pop song?

The potential new fans aspect is more like Radio Airplay or Earbits. Listeners share their email address if they like the song. I’m 2 for 7 so far.

Clearly your $10 goes a lot further with Audiokite or ReverbNation Crowd Review for market research, or with Radio Airplay or Earbits for online radio exposure.

Music Xray Diagnostics seems to exist solely to lure users into their paid opportunities. If my song has better ratings than 70% of submissions, it must be worth spending $32 to forward it to Sire Records, right? Yet we know from the other reports that the track has limited commercial potential.


It’s important to consider the demographics of each platform’s listeners. The SoundOut report breaks the sample group down by gender (leans slightly female) and age (predominantly 16-24 year olds). Audiokite links to a study on Amazon Mechanical Turk users, which indicates roughly the same listener composition.

Older listeners on both platforms liked my song better than younger listeners. There are a lot more younger listeners, and my scores reflect that!

I don’t expect 16-24 year olds to appreciate my music. If they do, great, but I know from my mailing list demographics that my fans tend to be twice as old as that, and more often than not, male.

In other words, people like me.

Currently there is no way to limit a report to “people like me.” I’d be willing to settle for “people who like the same music that I do,” but that’s not possible either.

Since my music combines elements of 80’s synthpop and EDM, I tend to fall between the cracks genre-wise, as this SoundOut review illustrates:

Sounds like the start of a video game!!! Ha this sounds like they doing this as a laugh in their garage. Quite irritating melody. If you like morrisey, deep he mode or aha you might appreciate it but certainly not my bag at all. Positives……..I struggle to find any beside the 80’s are back

It just so happens that I love the artists the reviewer cites, and hope to reach others with similar tastes. Maybe the “Dance/EDM” genre isn’t the best option for me?

To test that hypothesis out, I ordered a $20 100-listener report on the same song from Audiokite, out of my own pocket. This time I chose the “Pop” category:

Audiokite Report – Pop

Sad to say, the results are virtually identical. In the immortal words of Depeche Mode, people are people. That two reports could match so closely across two different genre targets says a lot about Audiokite’s consistency, and though I’m loathe to admit it, my song.


Market research can be helpful if you know what you’re looking for, and recognize the limitations of each platform. If you submit works-in-progress, and are willing to tweak them based on listener feedback, even better.

As for me, I’m going to continue running all my works-in-progress through Audiokite. It’s by far the best bang for your buck.

Have you tried SoundOut, TuneCore Track Smarts, ReverbNation Crowd Review, AudioKite, or Music Xray? What do you think? How do you use the reports? Let’s talk about it in the comments!


  1. Thanks for doing all this work, I really appreciate it. I’ve tried Reverb’s el cheapo choice, seemed okay, but light. I’ve tried SoundOut, too, but the quality of the comments mostly sucked (bad spelling, unclear, little grammar). After reading your write up of AudioKite, I finally tried them a few days ago, fingers are crossed that my song didn’t tank. We’ll see. Very interested in Fluence, off to have a look. As for MusicX-Ray, those guys just seem shady, always have.

    1. Thanks for breaking the ice here Jeff!

      I’m with you on Music Xray. In fact, I had a lot more written, but I decided the article was long enough, and I wanted to keep it positive as much as possible.

      1. Thanks for all this detail and research. I concluded Music X Ray was out to fleece the artist by the emphasis on the up-sell. I really haven’t been impressed by Reverbnation but prefer it to Music X Ray. In general, I am cautious with these sites and realize that they are a business like anyone, and are out to maximize profit. I will Audio Kite a try though and keep an open mind.

    2. I’ve been experimenting with Music XRay, and I agree .. it seems to get shadier and shadier, but I’m not writing them off yet. Like Brian’s music, my music falls in between genres. (somewhere between Jazz, Alternative, and Dream Pop) So, naturally some people love my music and some people hate it. So, I turn to AudioKyte and MusicXray to ask the question: What is the market for my music?

      MusicXRay frustrations:
      – There is no guaranteed time frame for your track to be reviewed by the 5 professionals. After a week of waiting, Adam at customer service told me that if I hadn’t gotten all 5 reviews in another couple weeks to send MusicXray another email. (I paid for reviews that are now my responsibility to make sure come back to me?)

      -You’re not told who these 5 professionals are that review your track. Not only do I not know when these reviews will get to me (hopefully in time to be useful for my marketing plans) So, I’m paying for reviews that may or may not show up and are totally anonymous? Why pay for a professional review that is anonymous?

      – Beyond that, my song’s rating fluctuates heavily with each indiviual professional review- making me question again “Who are these people?” It would be really valuable for me to have a profile of the “Industry Professional” who gave me 4 stars, and one who gave me 2 stars. There has been no communication between me and those 5 reviewers (of which only 3 have taken the time to review my music after more than a week) so I actually have very little feedback to work with.

      Music Xray is basically leaving me where I started, which is: Some people like my music and some people don’t…

      I’m not writing MusicXray off yet, but AudioKyte does seem to be winning. If only AudioKyte had a Acid Jazz/Dream Pop category. 😉

      1. Really appreciate the information you have compiled here, I’m with Music Xray and find the diagnostics process frustrating, I’ve had a track scoring well after 3 reviews then along comes the 4th and pulls it right down. Such limited genre choices too. I am an older writer/producer with retro influences and constantly feel I fall between the cracks, I believe in my own music and try not to let 5 unknown reviewers on Music XRay derail that. Also, human nature being what it is I feel negative tends to over ride the positive on the whole. In the late 1990s I had a song go to number one on the review based site “” (no not the Apple thing). Somehow I had enough good reviews to put me there but scrolling through the lot there were also some shockers, upsetting even. Thanks again.

  2. Thanks for that Brian. I find Music X-ray a little dodgey too even though I score highly in their “professional review score”. Soundout lacks quality control. Too many reviews from people who clearly do not like the your music genre and random comments. I’m giving Audiokite a blast. See what happens. I don’t particularly worry about my score, but I often struggle to “categorise” my music and similar artists, which is a question we all get all the time. so hoping to get some good insight as to how people see us.. cheers

    1. I confess I do worry about my score, but I try to put it into its proper perspective. Mainly I look for recurring criticisms that I might go back and fix, and try to only compare my songs to each other.

      Good luck with Audiokite! Let me know what happens!

      1. Hey Brian,

        Well, I am not worried too much about score but not because “I’m a wise man”. I care as much as you do. However, I just know that my music has a retro feel that some people love, and some hate. So, I know it polarises opinion a fair bit and unlikely to receive general approval as more “modern” sounding music may do. It’s cool with me.

        However, I take a keen interest as to what other artists people associate my tracks with. It often surprises me and some of these bands I’ve never heard of before, so I check them out, get a sense of what’s going on / where my band “fits in” kind of thing.

        Yeah, I let you know how it went once I get the report.


    1. Hi, I just listened to your song. I really like it. It has a feel-good grove to it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thnaks Brian.

    Had a listen to We’re Not Getting Any Younger on Youtube and then read the report.

    What strikes me with Audiokite so far is that there are no “bulshit” reviews (Like people who have not listened to the song or posting some complete nonsense, as I had experienced on Soudout)

    I think your song was well received and you can see sometimes people give a lower score but praise soem aspects of the song. It is jsut that it was not for them.

    That’s cool. Good tune BTW.

    I got my first report and got 5.9 score with some very positive reviews and some very negative ones. Kind of what I expected.

    However, the song I uploaded for this report is the one I feel the less confident about. I feel the mix never quite reached the potential of the song. So, i was curious as to how people would receive it.

    Now, I have submoted 2 “strong” singles. It will be great to see the difference (or not) in those reports.

    Once I have all 3, I’ll post the links here.


    1. Thanks for the kind words Vinny! And for taking the time to track down the song. I’ve since edited my comment above to include a link for people to hear it.

      Totally with you on the BS reviews. While some in Audiokite are still immediately dismissive (“not my thing”), at least you get the sense they are all genuine. Since Audiokite rewards reviewers for better reviews, there is incentive for reviewers to take their time.

      On SoundOut, the incentive is to review the most material in the shortest amount of time to maximize your $/hr. Plus, you’re fed a lot of truly terrible material, which is quite honestly easy to dismiss out of hand! At least back when I tried it from the SliceThePie end.

      I look forward to checking out your trio of reviews when they’re ready!

      1. Hey Brian, I’m sorry I’ve taken a while to get back to you on that.

        I’m talking to a label to release our EP and we have some radio promotion going and I’m told it is best not to make report public right now. So, I held back.

        But just for the sake of sharing feedback, I did 4 reports and my scores varied from 5.9 to 7.8

        You can listen to the 4 songs here:

        Because we have a retro sound (Alt rock / punk rock / Blues) feel and plenty distortions, we’re not everybody’s cup of tea and generally speaking we get comments and scores in the extremes (high or low)

        This makes perfect sense to me. I accept that.

        Here are the comments I would make specifically about the Audiokite reports / reviewers.

        – I feel of all the services I have used, they were the most “real” and genuine
        – People do pay attention to the songs
        – I had a feeling (maybe wrongly) that there are a lot of older people reviewing there (mums and dads kind of thing) . (I got a few comments like “I didn’t like the song at all but my son thought it was great”. Not a bad thing, but not sure if you want the young crowd to listen to your stuff if you will really get that.

        All in all, it is a very good service. My primary aim is to find out what other bands people associate us with so I can better focus our PPC / Video promotion ads, and to that effect some people made some interesting comments which helped.


        This is not only to Audiokite but all these services:

        For me, the major issue I have with all these services is that I feel the match between their reviewers and the kind of people you would like to review your track is too broad.

        “indie” or “Alternative” just doesn’t work.

        You get too many people reviewing which clearly have ticked “Indie” and “alternative” as music they would like to review but also probably many other genre, and their view of “indie” may be miles away from yours.

        I give you a practical example: In the song “All I need”, the intro guitar is heavy Fuzz sounding. I’m getting plenty of people (musicians, engineers, musicians / fans) asking me how I achieved that sound. It’s a feature to the song.

        But then you get comments like “That guitar at the start it is horrible, it is so distorted”. Clearly ANYONE really into alternative music would not make such a comment.

        There are plenty of other examples where I felt the reviewers wanted some easy listening indie pop stuff.

        So, the day these services allow you to specify “sound alike bands” in your campaign, and that you are matched to reviewers that have also ticked these bands as “bandsthey really like”, then it will be a more precise, fair and informative process.

        As it stands, it is still very hit and miss. I am sure it works extremely well for the more commercially sounding music (uplifting, happy, pop etc). I’m not so sure the more alternative stuff is going to do well (if you are worried about score)

        It would be interesting (if it was legal to do this) to upload some very successful alternative bands’ music and see what people say (the ones who don’t recognised the tracks).

        Would The Ramones, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth score well on audiokite? I seriously doubt it..

        So my advice: Take it for what it is, have a goal in mind (mine was to find sound alike band suggestions), don’t let bad comments get you down, but take fair criticism on board and improve!


  4. You’ve got some great tracks Vinny!

    I know what you mean about finding your audience. Some commenters say my music sounds “like Depeche Mode or something,” as if that’s inherently a bad thing.

    I’m sure plenty of reviewers feel they like all types of music, when the reality is, nobody actually does!

    Still, I wonder if, even if the services narrowed down the genres, would listeners just check more of the boxes?

    At the other extreme, if the services could narrow down the audience to just listeners who would love our music, would those “fanboys” provide any useful feedback?

    For now, I guess the sites can tell us what a “mainstream” audience thinks.

    1. Thanks Brian. Yes, I think that’s it. It’s not that great for more niche / left from centre music. But its informative in some aspects too. Anyway, let me know how you get on with your music. I keep reading your articles, and on a side note, I am now starting to work with Ben Landis, following your recommendation in one of your articles. So, thanks for this great resource you are building here!

  5. I really appreciate that you took the time to do all of this research. I used Soundout and liked the report I got but I don’t know if any of these services are worth the money. I mean, what people say and what they do tend to not mirror each other. I don’t trust what people tell me about my music, only how they respond to it. If people don’t share a song, Like a song by clicking the Like button, Tweet it, buy it, or download it, it didn’t hit them the way it needed to. That being said, the way artists should conduct market research is by running Youtube ads and watching the response. There’s a lot more key performance indicators you get from a Youtube video than any of these research platforms. You have watch time where you can see how long people listened to the song, you can see the potential for virility by how many people share it, there’s the self explanatory like button and it’s bringing people back to your channel page where they can consume more of your music, subscribe, etc. I just ran a campaign spending $10 for 1000 worldwide views spread across five songs from my album and got 8 subscribers, 6 Likes, 1 share and 1 sale.

  6. Sounds like a successful campaign! What service did you use? I’m curious how you tracked the sale specifically.

    I know sometimes I’ll really like a song, but won’t engage in any noticeable way to the artist. I’ll just look it up on Spotify and save it for later listening.

    But yeah, YouTube analytics are fantastic. No argument there!

    1. I’m big on analytics so I have everything synced up. My Youtube channel is linked in with my Adwords account where I see engagement in relation to the ads and all my links on Youtube videos are connected with I also track my Spotify streams through Nextbigsound. How I know where a sale came from is through correlation. I ran an ad for a day on Youtube. I got a click on a link to buy that song from Youtube on that same day. With Nextbigsound I can make the same correlations by looking at the weeks in which the streams occurred and checking for spikes in plays.

      It’s true that not everyone engages but if you’re promoting music online those people are kind of useless to you. If they don’t buy, download and give you their email, or share with their network what’s their worth? Though if they visit your website tracking cookies can allow you to advertise to them later. That’s what artists should be doing, in my opinion. Advertise your music and drive people back to your site. Have tracking pixels on your site where you build a list of your visitors. Give away downloads for emails but not for the purpose of email blasts but for running ads to the list and run ads to your previous visitors. Email click through rates are just as bad as Facebook impression rates.

  7. Kudos to you for being so on the ball with analytics! I’ve connected most of that stuff as well, but I haven’t been very scientific about analyzing the results.

    So I’m still unclear about how you’re placing an ad on YouTube. A video ad? I’m not sure where or how to do that. I’ve always been a little lax on YouTube, since I don’t have much in the way of quality videos.

    While I’d love all my fans to buy and spread the word, I’m happy knowing that many are content just to listen and enjoy! Music sales will be a thing of the past soon enough.

    I ran an email blast this morning and the CTR so far has been around 35%! I guess it depends what’s in the email.

    1. Yeah man, that’s outstanding. Industry average open rates for emails is 17% and click rates are only 2.5%. It really depends on how much your subscribers care about the information. I think no matter the forum, if people really want the info they’ll respond. That’s why I don’t understand why people chase numbers on social media as opposed to actually trying to build interest in their music. If you want some help with the analytics or Youtube stuff I’m down to assist, no problem.

      1. I appreciate that! Right now I’ve put my promotion ideas on the back burner until I finish my new EP, but I plan to rethink my entire approach after that. My goal is to spend less time broadcasting on social media, and more time in conversation with genuine fans.

        1. Yeah man, that seems like the way to go. The analytics stuff is pretty much for my own entertainment, as weird as that seems. I’ve had most success from content like Blog posts about songs that cover social issues.

    2. Music sales will be a thing of the past soon enough? Really? I can only speak for myself when I say that as a composer/artist who does this for a living, my purpose is to do more than just get reviews. I need to make money doing this. I started with Music Xray, only because it’s the first service I found. I found out about the others through this article (thank you, btw) and will give AudioKite a try, but I don’t want just reviews of my music. I want bona fide opportunities to submit my music for consideration to music decision makers. MXR certainly has plenty of opportunities out there but I didn’t see a whole lot of discussion about the same in the other services. Does AudioKite provide submission opportunities? The music business has become a very competitive thing and I totally get why services like MXR exist, as a vehicle for music professionals to listen to potential music to pitch to their clients while not having to listen to 600 tracks a day, most of which are not applicable to their opportunities (and perhaps not good enough for them to even listen to). Even as a talented writer who takes great pains to write good material that is recorded and produced well, I know it’s a crapshoot submitting to any opportunity at all. MXR states quite clearly that the money you spend on a submission is charged partially to weed out people who are not willing to pay anything to get their music heard by someone who could potentially give you thousands of dollars to license your song. I’m not defending MXR here, just stating that at least it’s an opportunity for me to get my music heard by a decision maker. I sincerely hope that I am not so naive as to think that I am going to get rich doing this, but I have to believe that in this day in age where “being discovered” and getting a record deal is a thing of the past, that submitting my work through this method could have a payoff at some point.

      Here is the link to my first track that I have submitted on MXR:
      It is recorded so as to have drums out front, as it’s purpose was to be a promotional video for my son to get endorsement deals. I have found that a lot of people seem to like it so I am considering having it re-mixed with the drums where they should be in the mix.

      Thanks, Dave

      1. I’d love to continue making money selling music too Dave, but the trend is clear. I make 10% of what I made 10 years ago, with 10x the fans.

        I don’t remember offhand if Audiokite provides submission opportunities, but in my experience, those are a complete waste of time anyway. If you want to get your music heard by decision makers, Fluence is the way to go.

  8. Brian,
    Great piece. Read twice; will absolutely refer to it a lot!

    I echo others: “Thanks for doing all this legwork!” Also, you’re a brave man, Charlie Brown – with humility (key quality, especially in THIS biz) – to hold yourself up to such public scrutiny and admit to a…gulp…”mediocre song!”

    Just submitted some of my songs to several reviewers on Fluence, so fingers crossed. YOU turned my onto the site, my good man, so thanks! I’ve signed up and am following a bunch of folks, including that Brian guy who submits songs for ridicul, er, I mean review! Maybe I’ll win the weekly Fluence Grand Prize! (How’s that for an enticing plug?) The Dude abides.

    Meanwhile, thanks to you, I’ll check out AudioKite!

    Btw, I kicked the Music X-Ray “tires” a few weeks back and smelled a rat; no offense Mr. X. So I’m glad I passed then now that I’ve seen your commentary about that service.

    I’ll check back with my critique of the Fluence critiques. One thing I’ll mention that I did: I chose 4 different reviewers for one of my songs, because they were very reasonable – all less than $2.00 a minute to review a 5+ minute song – they’re all female – its a love song duet, so guess I’m typecasting a little – and they all indicated they like the genre of this song. (Great that Fluence makes it possible to match up with reviewers who are into your style(s) of music!)

    It’ll be quite interesting to see how their reactions compare.

    Keep up the good work!

    David Nyro

    1. Thanks for the kind words David, and for taking my kind and not-so-kind words to heart!

      Please do report back and let us know what you think of Fluence. I think it’s important to keep in mind exactly what you’re hoping to get out of the review, before choosing who to submit to. Some will only write a sentence or two, but possibly pass it on to a writer at an influential blog. Others may not have much reach, but they will offer detailed suggestions that can make or break the track, assuming you’re open to revisions.

      1. I’ve been using Fluence a bit and as Brian says, it is important to know what you want out of the service.

        In my case, I am not looking for feedback on tracks. I am only interested in promotion opportunities (Blog press & radio).

        These are often the highest rate curators. So, again, it is important too know what you want, because depending on your goals, you may have to spend more.

        I’ve had some success. The best one is a radio in San Fransisco who loved the song and played it on their breakfast show and evening shows (to quite a large audience) and we will doa live interview at some point.

        It looks like a good blog may also review us.

        But on the downside, I would say the issue with Fluence is “perception”

        What I mean is: The curators don’t really know what stage of development a band is, and I feel there is the perception that when you submit to them you are a “wannabe”, looking for a bit of feedback and a tap on the back, even if you are already getting some press, work on your marketing, promoting releases etc

        I may be wrong, but at times times, reading their glowing comments and “love” the track but not following up with a write up / share of the song or action of any kind, I had the feeling that they probably thought the artist would be happy with that.

        I have a strong feeling that if the same curators had been contacted via the PR agency we use instead of Fluence, the positive feelings towards the music would have more often translated in a press article as we would have been considered a little more seriously.

        So, in my opinion, it happens. Some curators will write / play you. We got some, and that’s great. It is a good service.

        But many of them see that as a “feedback service” for artists. So, it can also be a little frustrating if this is not your goal.

        1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Fluence Vinny! Great stuff. I haven’t really tried it from that end yet, but I plan to with my next release.

          It’s good to hear you’ve had some pretty major success with the platform!

          And yeah, I know what you mean about some of the reviews. I’ve read the feed a few times, and noticed some people respond with a sentence or two, while I usually play the whole track 3-4x and have a detailed laundry list of actionable suggestions.

          Of course, if someone isn’t looking for production advice, I don’t have as much to say. Or worse, if they don’t say what they want, I really don’t know, and assume they just want me to tweet the link.

        2. Hey Brian,

          It is not so much I’ve had too short reviews. They have all been quite extensive and fair. All the ones I got, I would not fault the curator in that way.

          But what piss me off, what I meant, is I think some of them see it as a feedback service they get paid for (albeit when that feedback is good).

          The feedback is good, but not the end goal… I’m looking for them to feature us in their blogs / mag / radio. that’s the end goal

          So what I meant is:

          when you get a review where the curator says “Loved the track” great vibe blah blah blah”, but then they don’t share it on their blog, don’t follow with a write up..Only give you a “great feedback” thing, I find that really frustrating.

          For you it is different because you offer a 100% critics / feedback service. But for the curators there that offer “opportunities”, I just don’t get it if they say they love the track so much that they don’t offer you to send more material / feature you / share your song etc.

          That should be the point, right?

          So, some do, and its great, others not so much and that can be a bit of a pain.

          but yes, we have had 2 successes on that paltform so far, and it is worth investigating.

  9. Ah, I can understand your frustration.

    I see a lot of reviews where they say, “This is great! I’ll pass it on to x.” But I’ve also seen the ones you’re talking about – a glowing sentence or two, and that’s it.

    I guess in that case, you’re paying “for the exposure” – ha! And we all know how valuable that is. I suppose there’s a chance the influencer could think of you when an opportunity arises.

    Since you’re able to rate the reviewers, with enough input the system should eventually be able to weed out the unhelpful ones.

    1. I think fluence’s model needs to be tweaked. For a feedback service, I think its great.

      For an “opportunity” it is lacking.

      I’ve had some success with it, but its very hit or miss.

      The worst is to clearly state in your summary “I am looking for help in promoting this track / my band. Any mentions on your network, suggestions on who to contact, paths to new markets, etc are greatly appreciated” — and then to have the reviewer take your $14 and respond with “Decent track, drums could use work”


      Further if you read the “Community Guidelines” there is not a single word written about how “promotion” request should be handled, its just all centered on how feedback should be provided.

      Again, not dogging the service as I see it has value, but there is such much ambiguity and lack of clarity on what “promotional help” means that it makes it less than great user experience.

      1. I get where you’re coming from in regard to Fluence as a promotional vehicle. In my experience, you’ve really got to spend some time reviewing the reviewers before submitting to them.

        And to be fair, if someone is asking you to share their track on social media, but not for feedback, and you don’t like the track, there’s not much to say beyond “drums need work.”

        In those situations, as soon as I know I’m not going to share the track, I stop playback to minimize the cost to the submitter.

  10. Not so convinced about the value of (and therefore I guess SoundOut). The big problem I have is with Reverbnation in terms of their “Crowd Review” because what they DON’T tell you is they only really find folks to review in certain genres as listed here:

    But they still happily take your money if you are in genres such as jazz, R&B and Latin. This is essentially a rip off because again, they don’t tell you this and the reviews you end up getting are puerile at best. The people signing up to do reviews aren’t really partial to the music you make if you do one of the unlisted genres and this ensures no one from these genres can ever be featured on the home page etc..

    What a rip! ! !

    1. You’re 100% right DFUNK4U.

      In my opinion, Reverberation is totally worthless.

      All the people who go to reverbnation are musicians. That’s it.

      You’re not going to gain real fans there.

      All the people who sign up to your list will be musicians and they do it so you “fan” them back etc. . there is no point in this at all.

      Total waste of time.

      I think we got to 4th in the reverbnation alternative UK charts, and you know what? Nobody cares…

      I wouldn’t spend time or money with them. It’s good to have your page up “just in case” but best to concentrate efforts somewhere else.

      And one last thing:

      Nobody cares either about their super widgets…

  11. Please excuse the double posting – I’ve had so many windows open, my original posting landed on your review exclusive to soundout. 🙂

    Brian, I am finding that your two blogs are the most informative in all the land of the internet. I was going to submit to Track Smarts, then looked into SoundOut, then found Audiotkite. I really could use your help:
    I am looking for:

    -I want to put more weight on certain demographics: age groups (16-24), geo (USA)
    -Include a link to my social networks, website, itunes
    -if my song reviews well, get the most out of bonuses (radio, a&r, sync)
    -qualitative reviews

    Love Audiokite’s interface, readability of reviews, social linkage, great infrastructure, though I’d like to see more options out of creating a custom report … all the reviewers are from the US, which is great. HOWEVER, there are reviewers as old as 65+. I love all people of any age, but for this need I am looking mainly for 16 and under, 16-24, 25-34, maybe 35-44 at the highest — is there any service that isolates this age range? Soundout seems to really nail the demographic customization with the plus report allowing you to pick geo location and market-sensible age groups.

    Also, Soundout/tunecore have WAY more bonuses if your song reaches “potential”. Again, I’m not sure how valuable this is … anyone have validation on these label, a&r, sync connects?! Any actualized success stories?

    It’s tough … Soundout has been around a while, more dialed-in demographics when you order big, better bonuses. Audiokite has a way more digestible report, better questions/piecharts and use of the information, plus when you go with a pro account you can add in a link to grab people who are really into your song right there … hmmm itunes or website?

    SInce my music crosses genres, can you please help me decide if I am indie/alternative or pop?! I typically say indie electrop or alternative synthpop (itunes standards) however, alternative can sometimes mean blink 182 to some groups of thinkers.

    Thank you.

    1. No worries on the double posting! I deleted the other.

      I too wish we had more control over our audience through these services. I’m not sure if their pool of listeners is large enough to provide that granular a level of control.

      While you can’t target age groups, you mentioned that you want to focus on US audiences. Currently Audiokite is 100% US, so there you go.

      I don’t think any allow you to include links to social networks, website, AND iTunes, but Audiokite lets you include a link to whatever you want (maybe just the pro version?). I would hope ReverbNation would link back to your profile, but I don’t actually know.

      The bonuses are useless IMHO. If anyone has a success story to share, I’d love to hear it.

      As for your music, we share the same problem! I personally wouldn’t go with alternative, though I kind of understand the inclination. Your music is less synthpop and more indie, like Cut Copy. I always just go with electronic.

  12. Thanks Brian for getting the data. I was about to try music xray, but you convinced me to go with Audiokite. There is good data in there – the question is how to interpret it.

    Here’s the report

    I’m pretty sure the word cloud is unreliable. The adjectives happy, mellow, interested, thoughtful, intrigued, relaxed, joyful seem to appear in every report (along with at least one instance of horny). Maybe the listeners are given limited choices, or maybe there are genuine similarities. Not very illuminating, anyway.

    Best part of Audiokite is the free responses. I’d pay extra to get more of them. Some comments hurt my feelings, though: “I am literally picturing someone with an 808 box and a keyboard, sitting on the floor, hitting the same 4 keys with 2 fingers. It’s a hard image to put into words, but it isn’t the most flattering.” Definitely took a blow there, but it’s a fair criticism. There were lots of contradictions, with some people praising the production, others comparing it to a casio sound, some people calling the vocal sample a high point, others complaining that it’s screechy. But overall, as long as you don’t get too caught up in the very good or very bad reviews, I think you can learn a lot from these reports about how your music is perceived.

    The one question that nags at me is how they got ratings for the billboard 100. I don’t doubt that those songs are objectively better, but it’s hard to imagine a balanced system for evaluating well-known songs.

    Also, 55-64 year old men seem to really dig dance music.

    1. Thanks for sharing your report Arthur! 84th percentile is pretty darn good!

      Yeah, those old dudes like to boogie! 😉 It could’ve just been that there were only one or two of them, who just happened to rate your song highly, and so are overrepresented in the demographics chart.

      I love those snarky comments! Yeah, they can sting, but at least you know they were listening. I get pretty much the exact same sorts of comments.

      I think Alex submitted songs from the Billboard Top 100 to Amazon Mechanical Turk, and is using those ratings as benchmarks. Maybe he’ll chime in and clarify.

      Overall, it looks like you’ve got a strong track on your hands. My only concern is that people chose to stop listening a lot earlier than the Audiokite average.

  13. Great research work and thanks for the effort 🙂

    I am currently pursuing legal action against Music X-Ray and would like to post my ‘Ripoff Report’ url here when it is up. I hope that would be ok? I am seeking other artists who may have proof of fraudulent activity.
    Steve – They Made Monsters

      1. Cool! Rip Off Report are holding my case awaiting my response from a third party that is involved. May take a few weeks but I will keep you posted for sure 😉

  14. hey guys.
    thought i’d add my 5 eggs in here.
    stumbled across this great article when i decided to look into who’s actually doing these crowd reviews.
    totally agree with the OP about the serious extremes in comments as they are there in abundance in my crowd reviews.
    i did my songs on seriously cheap basic gear which is a zoom mrs802 a ps2 game (music generator 2) a shure sv100 mic and a guitar with more dead spots on it then a dead dalmation.thats a grand total of about 150 quid tops.some comments say easylife has been really well produced in a studio and others see it for what it is… a bloke trying to do his best with utter rubbish not sure what they’re listening to tbh.
    im about to embark on a cubase 5 misson though so hopefully i can get my head around the giant learning curve.
    However, these reviews things are indeed addictive,but i suppose that is why us writers do it for our egos to be stroked and fires to be stoked in hope that the songs might actually go somewhere.
    definitely going to have a look at audiokite.
    below is a link to the two songs easy life and s.o.b and they’re reviews.


  15. I tried Audiokite on all four songs from our recent EP. First off, they definitely do what they say they will, they provide honest responses from real people, and the results come in very quickly

    However, I have come to believe the service is almost completely useless for non-pop music. When I got my results, the reviews were terrible. I mean really terrible. One song even landed in the 0th percentile. I spent a while being depressed, thinking that this music that I had put my whole being into was actually complete crap and somehow I just hadn’t realized it until now.

    Then I talked to a friend who also happens to be a fan of my band who pointed out where these people were coming from. Even though they say they are fans of “alternative” music, which is the category I chose, they really aren’t. They are fans of slightly alternativey pop music, maybe. However, music that is actually significantly different from the norm or a bit “out there” like mine is going to completely miss them. They don’t have the musical awareness to realize that their minds are stuck in pop music mode, and instead write reviews saying that the music completely sucks, is terrible, badly written, has no merit, etc.

    Unless your aim is actually to get on the pop charts, I don’t think that this service would be very useful to you.

    1. Spot on Vance.

      That was precisely my point and my experience with the service too.
      It is useless if you don’t do pop based music or at worst “happy, indie”

      In my opinion as long as these services do a “genre match” between bands and reviewers, it is useless.

      As you rightly mentioned, people think they like “alternative music” because they like Maroon 5 and 1 song from foo fighters.

      But they don’t.

      The only way these services will work properly is if there is an “influence match”.

      The band states bands they are close to (in spirit and sound) and the reviewers states bands they love.

      If there is a match on 1 band at least, then OK, he can review.

      This would be a million times better and more accurate, but they wouldn’t sell as many packages and it would take a lot slower to get completion, and sometimes it may not be possible.

      But at least it would be fair, hones, and truly valuable information for the artist.

      As it stands now, it only works for mainstream music.

      1. Yes, Vinny, I completely agree that a service that matched listeners to songs like that would yield some very valuable information indeed. You are also right that it would take very long and maybe not even work at all, though.

        I would put in artists like Captain Beefheart, Mr. Bungle, and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and then wait while the crickets chirped and never actually get my report because most people don’t even know who those bands are… 🙁

        Ah well…

        1. Just to play devil’s advocate here, while targeting is way too broad at this point, I think it would be at least theoretically possible to target too narrowly.

          It may be gratifying to reach people who almost certainly would like our music, but I’m not sure how useful that data would be when we can’t target our promotional efforts to the same degree.

          These platforms are meant as market research tools, not fan acquisition platforms – though hopefully some of that happens as well!

        2. Get your point Brian,

          However any meaningful market research is done to the intended target market for the product / service etc.

          No point making any market research to people outside the target market, unless you are trying to find out what your target market is.

          There are many, many rubbish bands and songs. It is not because they fit a specific genre that people who actually love that genre will like these rubbish songs.

          They are discerning music fans, so I can’t see the gratifying aspect as such.

          On the contrary it would be a good wake up call (and maybe a soul crusher) for a band who have their songs reviewed by their exact target market / potential fans to discover they are not appreciated.

          That, or the opposite, or even indifference would be much better info to get IMO if it came from people who in principle should like the kind of music you make.

          Anyway, its not a big deal either way. I just think fundamentally these services are not that useful if you stray from mainstream pop.

  16. Good article. I would recommend everybody to stay away from musicxray. I’ve been selected a couple of times, but I’ve never made any contact further than just being selected. I feel scammed.

  17. Hey Vinny,

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said, but I’d like to elaborate on one point:

    On the contrary it would be a good wake up call (and maybe a soul crusher) for a band who have their songs reviewed by their exact target market / potential fans to discover they are not appreciated.

    Theoretically, that’s the whole purpose of these platforms. But instead of the artist accepting that their target market doesn’t like the song, they figure that they must not have reached their target market – which by their definition is “people who like my song.”

    In other words, bad reviews are a failure of the platform, not the song.

    I could be wrong, but I’m sensing a bit of that in the demands for increasingly precise targeting. While of course granting that the targeting could use a little more precision!

  18. really enjoyed reading this post and all the comments… I ran across your site when I googled jango popscore stats and an old article there you wrote helped me alot to know what my popscores are really meaning (sidebar comment) and then I stumbled on this post. I’ve been running reverbnation, musicxray and audokite reports and had some same but very different experiences from what folks mention here but I’m in a totally different genre than I think the others chiming in on this post. I’ve been on reverbnation since ’08 and they used to be one of my favorite sites to easily post my music and hand out links to fans to share for pre-release, but not so much anymore and it seems these days its true as another one wrote its just artists signing up to be other artists fans which makes no sense to me. Reverbnation also used to pay for streams you had but they stopped that a few years ago. I have used their crowd reviews on my mixes just to get a feel for how well my tracks are going to be received. Again my complaint is the reviews are done by folks not interested in my genre but somehow I still seem to get fairly good reviews so it gives me a general population viewpoint. But I found with Audiokite I got alot of negative feedback about my genre not just my song – there were that were really explicit that my genre is not their cup of tea (gospel lol) and that was why they downgraded my song so l couldn’t really get a good read from the report from audiokite. And I have had good experiences with music xray – free real radio play and promotion for a christmas song I have and a real distribution deal with a legitimate well known label but agree there are a number of shadesters hanging out there. I always carefully research who is doing the opportunity and see who they really are before i submit but I do like that my music gets reviewed and targeted by people who like and work with my genre so that helps me alot. I have gotten real email users and fans there but I only target the 20 for the required diag but I notice alot of them are outside the US Anyhows, I really appreciated reading this to relate my experience using these services to others … moving on to some more of your posts!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Staci!

      Yeah, it’s gotta be tough with gospel. It’s so specific, and not a subgenre or blend of multiple genres. I’d guess reggae would be tricky too!

      I continue to get a crazy number of mailing list signups every week from ReverbNation, which I assume are almost entirely from other musicians. I can’t recall otherwise engaging with any of them. I can only assume that they are hoping I’ll return the favor. Fortunately with FanBridge I can assign them to a group and target them separately if I ever want to.

      Glad to hear you’ve had luck with Music Xray! I’m sure there are plenty of good opportunities there for those like you who are willing to do the research.

  19. Hey Brian,

    Thanks for sharing the reports and your experiences!

    Here are mine:

    SoundOut – I submitted my song (which is Rap mixed with Pop). I got 100 reviews. 50 of them were Positive and 50 of them were negative. With a total of 7.1 overall rating. As I tried to focus on the positive, I was still discouraged by the negative feedback. Some were rude, telling me that I straight up sucked. I wanted to quit. But I went back to the studio and re-recorded the whole song. SoundOut then fully merged with Reverb and TuneCore

    After the I did the new version of my song, I submitted through Reverbnation. I didn’t submit with TuneCore because I didn’t want to distribute yet because it’s in works in progress.

    ReverbNation – I ordered 45 review package. I got a 6.1 score overall. 30 of them were positive while 15 of them were negative.

    What sucks is I couldn’t choose my target listeners which was the HipHop/Rap listeners. Which is why I’m excited to try AudioKite.

    How do you handle the negative reviews? I get all discouraged and depressed. I know my music is not for everybody. And I can’t please everybody. Even some of the best musicians get dragged.

    1. It’s a very good question Hector, because as human beings and as artists, it is very hard to take an objective look into ourselves and our work, and this is why critique (professional or user based) has its place.

      My 2 cents would be:

      – Differentiate between people who simply do not understand your genre and slag you off for it and those who raise valid points even if they don’t like your genre (very hard to do)

      – Look for patterns and don’t ignore them.

      A few years ago, I was told a million times my vocals were not up to scratch, but strangely, I decided to listen to the 10 people who said my vocals sounded unique and great.. I was a fool!.

      Now I take singing lessons and have done for a couple of years and work hard at it and I hardly ever get negative comments about vocals… In fact some professional press compared my vocals to Bowie’s which I could only have dreamed about at the time.

      – Don’t let it crush you, you will only loose time..

      If it takes you 3 month to recover from negative reviews, it is 3 month you have lost making music and will never get back. Sometimes you do need to hit a low and take a break to re-assess, but don’t let that happen every time.

      – Be analytic and not emotional

      It goes back to looking for patters.

      There may be many things people say about production, songwriting, vocals, etc. but pick one and decide to kill it! For me it was vocals. I never wanted to be slagged off again about it (of course it still happens, but now the trend is inverted…many more people like my vocals than dislike them). Whatever you choose, make it a mission, study, get help, train, practice and kill it!! You will improve like crazy!!

      Try leave your emotions out of it. Easier said than done, but that’s how I would answer your question.

      I hope it helps at all,


  20. Hey Vinney, you’re right! I noticed a pattern and When I looked at all those 50 negative reviews from SoundOut, each individual review said I sounded boring and monotone. And they were right because even my closest friend said the same thing! Which is why I went back to the studio and re-recorded. So my fingers are crossed for the AudioKite reviews!

    I’ll post the results here! So stay tuned! 🙂

  21. Looks like I’m gonna have to re-record the song again. Everybody didn’t like the tone of my voice because they said it sounded fake.

    Which is true, I did put on a fake voice.

    Majority declined to give a review, which sucks because at least SoundOut gave you a review

    1. My voice tends to score the lowest of all the elements too. Some people love it, and more people not so much.

      Vinny’s advice is spectacular, and I don’t have anything to add. I don’t see myself taking lessons anytime soon, but I confess I could actually, y’know, PRACTICE singing every once in awhile.

      Like you said, we can’t please everybody. But we can strive to improve in the areas where we know we need work, and these platforms can help us identify those areas.

  22. Hi Brian,

    I got to say thanks for this review and all this info, i would not have known about audiokite if it wasnt for you. I also appreciate everyone’s comments here as it has helped alot with my point of view.

    The only thing I dont like about audiokite, and i guess the only reason that its so much cheaper than crowd review is because in audiokite the reviewer does not need to leave an actual comment whereas crowd review has an automatic review check and determines the lenght, as well as the reviewer from copy pasting previous reviews so its a bit more detailed on the specifics.

    I also think that the best way to start as a performer is to get unbiased reviews based on people on the internet as they dont care if they hurt your feelings 🙂

    In case you wanna see my reviews you can see it here:

    The song reviewed is this one:

    My favorite comment is the guy who started writing the review and then realized he hated the song!! I am still laughing after 2 hours of reading this, i really love this guy!! 😀

    “Quiet contemplative intro. Feels more like folk than indie/alt. Oh shit it’s a religious song. That makes it even worse. I almost want to return this HIT so I don’t have to listen to this shit for 2 minutes… but I think it’s almost over. “

    1. Ha! I guess the title “Savior” wasn’t enough of a tip-off? 😉

      Those are some pretty impressive scores! It doesn’t hurt that it’s a great song.

      I’m on the fence about forced comments. My understanding is that reviewers who listen through and comment make more money, so there’s an incentive there. But if they don’t have anything to say, or if the scores say it all, I’m not sure it’s worth pushing. I always get plenty of comments regardless.

  23. Hey Brian,

    Great post. Thanks for the time and money you invested and for your interesting insight on the topic.

    I’ve been a bit ticked off at the reviews from Reverb*Nation. Not so much with the negative reviews, as you know, not everybody will like your stuff and that’s ok. What really irritated me were the reviews where the person didn’t even bother to listen and in some cases were not just tone deaf, but perhaps legally so. The one track I recently submitted, a 70s harder-rock/light-metal tune, had some reviews comparing it to 70s rock, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Sabbath, Phil Collins & Hanson (LOL!); ReverbNation Crowd Review, according to their extremely unscientific algorithms, scored me at 100% sounds-like R.E.M. One review actually accused me of plagiarizing “Hotel California”, which to compare it with my track, the only way to confuse the two is to be legally deaf. Another said “song should have a guitar solo or too(sic)”, despite the tune having an entire verse dedicated to a solo. Here’s a link to my track if anyone cares to hear what some people think a “Hotel California” cover, with totally different lyrics, melody, arrangement and instrumentation in the weird fusion of Deep Purple/Uriah Heep/REM/Hanson sounds like, LMAO –

    What really ticked me of at RN, though, was their flippant attitude regarding the helpful-as-a-heart-attack service they’re charging for which included the comment, “…and the reviewers are not always the most helpful”. I emailed them back and asked, “If not for something helpful… Why did I just pay you for this service?”. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for them, I’m not holding my breath for their reply.

    Sorry for ranting a bit there, but my hot buttons were all pushed and essentially what lead me here when I googled “Reverb Nation Crowd Review bullshit”, LOL!

    In any case, I went ahead and submitted a couple of songs through AudioKite at your recommendation. Though, FYI, the process of ordering 2 reports never presented me with an obvious opportunity to use your code above. No biggie. I’ll shoot them an email so at least you get credit for directing me there.

    Thanks again for the post.


    The Aforementioned “Hotel California” Review:“I like the gritty sound in the beginning. Great rock sound. It kind of sounds like Hotel California in its arrangement. At first I thought it was a cover of the song, until I heard the lyrics. It has the melody of Hotel California, but changed up a bit with the lyrics. For this reason, I wouldn’t say that this song is very original. You can see the influence in this song. The vocals are OK. Overall this song isn’t the greatest.” – Bahahahahahahaha!

    1. Yep, that’s a dead ringer for “Hotel California” – ha! Kidding aside, the contour of the vocal melody is similar in the verse. I’m sure that’s what they’re hearing. The chorus isn’t remotely similar though. I guess you took some liberties with your cover. 😉

      Thanks for sharing your experience! Sorry it isn’t a better one. Hopefully you’ll have more luck with AudioKite.

      As for the promo code, I think just clicking through from the post will do the trick. The AudioKite site has been overhauled twice since my article. I’ll check with Alex!

      1. LOL!

        Thanks for stopping by and checking out my tune!!

        I Got my AudioKite report 🙁 It definitely sucks to mix and listen a couple of hundred times and think “Yeah!!! This mix is gonna knock their socks off!!” Only to get a 6.3 rating, LOL! I definitely thought the reports were a little more helpful than the Crowd Review provided through RN by SoundOut, as were the reviews (at least those who took the time to write one). I chose “Hard Rock/Metal” as the genre which may have been a mistake as it is really not correct for my style or the tune. It’s hard when you’re targeting a genre considered ‘Classic’ and not having that as a choice for submission and even more so when your target demographic is 40-60 and the reports are primarily targeted to 24-35, as you mentioned above.

        Just for kicks and grins, I resubmitted the tune with ‘Indie/Alternative Rock’ as the genre just to see what, if any, difference genre choice makes. BTW, I was able to use your coupon code this time, need to scroll to the bottom of their page and there is a box for it.

        As for Reverb*Nation, I did finally heard back from them and they are working with me on a compromise. Very nice folks for the most part.


        1. That’s not a bad score at all Chuck!

          I’ve tried submitting to multiple genres, and didn’t notice a big difference. I think there’s a lot of overlap in the listener base.

          I’ve always found ReverbNation’s support team to be super helpful!

        2. Just an update regarding different genres. Got a 6.5 over an average of 6.3 for the Indie/alternative genre. So you are correct about not much difference between genres, score-wise at least, although the written reviews were quite a bit more positive in the more correct genre.


  24. Reverbnation crowd reviews arent genre orientated though…how can they be thru sliceofthepie.People who pay money for these reviews are just wasting their money…and worrying about why someone who listens to Justin Bieber crap doesnt like your metal or rock song is just counter productive to the artist.

    1. While accurate targeting is a huge issue, you can definitely target your submission by genre.

      This week Justin Bieber has the top 3 spots on the Spotify Global Top 10!

  25. Brian,

    Thanks for this very comprehensive report. It definitely helped steering me in the right direction. I tried Fluence but couldn’t find your name in the list of available people. Are you no longer available or are you under a different name perhaps? I am trying out AudioKite next.

    Thank you,


  26. don’t use musicxray. They’re awful. I’ve placed songs with them before successfully and I still haven’t made a dime off of them yet they expect you to pay like 20-30 dollars a submission. You’re most likely going to spend more on submissions then you’ll make back. It is a scam. Whoever’s doing their rating is unbelievably biased and cruel as well. I’ve had songs that weren’t my best get decent ratings and then I submit something that gets the highest ratings everywhere else but somehow gets a 20% rating out of 100% on xray. They make no sense at all. I can’t get my mind around how they come up with these ratings because they’re completely inconsistent. I’ve done research on other people’s experiences and it seems that certain genres and styles get shit on by them. They even have one reviewer that’s a hardcore christian and can’t seem to leave that out of his reviews. Good luck if you make any music that has a dark theme. They’ll label it as demonic or some stupid religious zealot thing. This happened to someone who makes metal even though they are Christian themselves. This is a bad site period. We all need to stop giving them any of our money and let them become irrelevant and fade out into obscurity. Making people pay for submissions is a bad business model in general. We shouldn’t enable a site like this to continue to do what they’re doing. I know at least 3 people who have had successful submissions with them who have never seen a dime in royalties. It’s looking more and more like a scam every day.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Sorry to hear it hasn’t been positive. I’m guessing that the inconsistency you’re seeing is due to the fact that only five people are doing the rating, and those five people are different every time. But again, that’s just a guess. I haven’t visited the site since I wrote this article.

  27. I did a review using Tunecore also, and I liked the service, but the unanswered question for me are; Do they tell the people who listen to the song who the artist is after listening or even the name of the song? Do the people who listen to the song get paid to do so?

    I understand that the reason for the service is to give you a better idea on what direction to go with it, but wouldn’t it be nice to know the listeners know what the song was, or even who wrote it?

  28. Hi 🙂
    Great article! Love the part about Fluence. Definitely checking that out!
    Regarding music Xray i’v had the same experience. I did it the other day before I found your site and i’m still waiting for the results from the diagnostic.
    I’m gunna connect with you on Fluence.

  29. Thank you for all your input I’m going to try out Audiokite. I’ve tried MusicXray I agree with the comments I can help feel that it’s a bit shady. It seems like they play it safe. They want cookie cutter music only. If you don’t sound like the million monotonous pop songs or country songs out on the radio right now they want nothing to do with you.

  30. Brian – appreciate your detailed analysis. Having just finished up business school and looking to commercialize my music, having market research insights are paramount in any business venture. To that effect, I am in the mix/master phase of my first studio album and thought I would submit a demo song through Audiokite to get a before & after comparison.

    I’m fairly satisfied with the report, however was disappointed their pricing has increased and that I didn’t receive the Billboard Top 100 comparison. Here’s a link to my report:

    I plan to share some of the finished product with you once I receive the masters.

    1. Thanks for sharing your report Michael! I see they’ve changed things around, for the better overall I’d say. That said, I really do need to revisit Audiokite and the different report options. I’ve been holding out until I have some new material!

      1. Hi Brian, thanks again for all of your analysis on the available market research tools for musicians. I’ve gone full monty and purchased research for all ten songs on my debut album. The commercial potential is looking pretty good, now it’s time to put it to the test and promote the heck out of the album. To that affect, I’d love if you could give her a listen and let me know what you think. It’s available to stream on my website at

  31. Great article that opened my eyes a lot and fast tracked me to Audiokite and away from having to get opinions from family and friends about any music I do. As my wife says when I complement her, “You are family, your opinion doesn’t count!”

    I put up a decent bluesy instrumental track for the slaughter using the discount code, thanks, so what did I get for $17? 50 reviews; they listened for an average of 2 minutes 40 seconds, my fan base is 25-35 year old women and the overall impression was that it was a pretty nice moody grungy track. The ratings for production and structure were higher than I would have given, they seemed to like the quality of the playing, but the song name and my pseudonym band name weighed the overall score down, which came in at 6.5. That did make me happy, having never really shared my music with anyone before. The comments were quite constructive too, especially one from a 60+ musician who ripped into it, and nailed the shortcomings that I thought it had. But the rest of the comments were more about the mood and how mostly good they felt listening to it. So it gave me hope Ihave a modicum of talent and did confirm the gaps I have felt I need to fill to produce that killer “I cant do any more with this song”.

    1. Sounds like that was $17 well-spent. The fact that listeners hung on for 2:40 average strikes me as majorly impressive!

      Even more impressive is your willingness to accept constructive criticism from “the ripper”. But that’s the real value of the service, right? It’s nice when people like the song or say you’re great, but ultimately, we want to know how to get better.

  32. Hi Brian,
    I had read your reviews about a month or so ago–and I have to tell you, you are spot on. Audio Kite scared the devil out of me! But in a good way. I like the fact that they let you pick your genre. Reverb and MusicXray I have used, I will never again use MusicXray–4 reviews–but it took a few wees to even get the first one, anyway…. if I want a quick review, I use Reverbnation—when I am ready to climb the mountain and put my big girl pants on–I use Audio kite—

    1. Well then, break out the big girl pants because ReverbNation bought AudioKite, and their Crowd Review is better than ever! I hope to review the new and improved service soon.

      1. Good deal. Please let us know how it worked out. Wasn’t sure if the merge already happened, if there is a price change or what. Big girl pants waiting on the hanger. 🙂

  33. Hi, Brian,

    Thank you for your awesome article. I’m not an artist or songwriter, but ran an online music seminar and review company until 2012. I am planning to get back into the industry and came across your great research. I have not used any of the services that you covered yet, but think I could share some behind the scenes detail on why there may be delays and inconsistent reviews on some music critique services. Of course, all music critique services are not equal, but for the ones that have used industry insiders like record company A&R and other opportunity personnel to review music, I think I have an insightful story to tell that could be very helpful to your readers.

    Let me know if you are interested in hearing it and I will figure out a way to private message you.

    Once again, great work!


    Music Lover

  34. ive used music x ray as well as reverbnation (through audiokite i believe). Much more success and relative feedback with music x ray, highly disappointed with reverbnation, not to mention the “crowd feedback” is a waste of money, one comment will be the absolute opposite of another, which proves the intelligence level of listeners. through music x ray i have at least met other labels and worked to make a great product. perhaps reverb nation is a place for those that already have high quality mastered products, however ive enhanced some of my work by working with those in music x ray. so, if you are trying to improve music and get out there and meet someone worth the time, i would recommend music x ray. If you are interested in some form of high school popularity contests like a fashion show in the cafeteria, by all means use reverbnation, but once again, i take their reviews lightly and more as a joke

    1. That’s the first positive feedback I’ve seen about Music Xray. But it’s just a platform after all. If it connects you to the right people, great!

      I’ve had great luck with Crowd Review, as my recent post will attest. I’m using it for every song now.

  35. Wow – tons of comments here and I got through most of them and pull away these things and ask you one thing:
    It seems most say “stay away from X-ray.” Got it. And are AudioKite and SoundOut part of/owned by ReverbNation? So it’s all one deal now? So is Crowd Review the main deal you go with now? Or would it be better (but maybe more expensive) to do SoundOut directly versus going through ReverbNation? And like you and Staci above, my fan base and demographics tend to be an older crowd, Christian Contemporary, 35-60. So will reviews really help or can we target genres now? I really want to try something out though to get some type of focus group info. Thanks for the great detail you have here in this review. So there’s a few questions there I guess. Sorry:)

    1. I just use Crowd Review now. You can indeed pick a genre, though it might not be a perfect fit.

      I believe the only way to use SoundOut is through TuneCore. But why would you? It’s terrible.

  36. Hey Brian, just recently stumbled on your music marketing posts. Thanks for the great content! Wanted to see if you had done a review on Crown Review since Reverbnation bought Audiokite?

  37. Amusing report comparison. Although it’s an old article but pretty thanks man. I just tried verbnation after acquiring AudioKite and honestly it’s just superbly amusing although it was quite expensive. i don’t know if i’m going to try another website reports, i just need to research more of what they can offer today. Thanks again for this amazing comparison.

  38. Hi Brian! It’s 2021 almost 2022 and what is your favorite music critique service today? I’m new to this and never heard of any of these services. I gravitated this way as essentially I need to know who and from what background or musical listener standpoint my music attracts. All I’ve done so far is YouTube so far 4 videos in 2 months. Nothing viral ha! Not enough numbers even finding me and not sure if I should advertise until I get more confidence with my works other than people liking it a lot at coffeehouse open mics. Critique service is more specific for informative analyses from serious people… yet a general listener’s view would be interesting too. My numbers are grim at YT. I only have one original and 3 covers so far but a lot of originals yet to post. I’m thinking running them through a critique service first before posting on YouTube or maybe Band Camp. I’m so indecisive and need to sort out how to go about all of this “debut” and where to go. I’ve read virtually all the comments to your fine article but always kind of felt they were very substantial but quite “old” in the cyber world.

      1. Hi Brian!
        Thanks for responding! I was just at Reverb Nation. I spent $1,000 on a used guitar through them about 2 yrs ago and I had to start another account. I couldn’t get the Crowd Review without joining. I joined for free as I don’t want to have monthly bills other than the rent I pay for my apartment. I’m low budget and don’t want auto withdrawl so my bank account could never overdraft. They won’t let you upload your song and my song is only 45.5 Mb! I think it’s 8Mb is the largest for a song upload. They uploaded my 45.5Mb song with free membership, so they take your song with free membership until you pay them a monthly membership which I think is not fair as it only took about 60 seconds to upload my song. I don’t think that is fair.

        All I wanted was a Crowd Review and I was going to pay for a Gold level but I was not happy about paying two fees, a monthly membership plus the review fee. No where was that mentioned in any Crowd Review articles I read. So after the going through the steps, making a profile, uploading a photo and my song, only then they tell you – not good etiquette. I don’t think that is fair. I then feel they must have a lot of other tricks as this is a red flag for me. That’s even after I was a good customer and paid in full right away for my $1,000 guitar, so multiple red flags for me.

        Are there any other crowd reviews that you like as a second choice? I want reviews from both musicians and listeners of my Folk music genre. At last resort I might seek Drooble’s service. You mention to do this with YouTube ads. I for sure don’t want to get music feedback with my music video postings on YouTube since that is public. I’d rather get feedback privately.

        I have read by far more bad comments about Reverb Nation Crowd Review but had decided something was better than nothing and sought them out. I can’t really find reviews about music feedback services in the crowd type of settings, a lot of lone individuals, but I’d rather have the input of many.

        Can you think of another type of crowd feedback service that gets good reviews? I had liked the feedback and old articles I read about Audiokite, but too bad they were bought out by Reverb Nation. I find articles about feedback services from about 2014 to around 2018. Did a lot of such services drop out? Was there a brief few years they were more popular, a kind of mini golden age, then diminish? Thanks for all you do for musicians!

        Kindest Regards, Mike

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