Feature.fm

What Artists Should Know About Feature.fm

UPDATE: 8tracks is no more, though you can still promote your song on Feature.fm through Deezer. Read about my experience with that here. Right now my favorite Feature.fm feature is Smart Links.

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

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

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

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

plays over 30 seconds

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

Indie Synthpop from colortheory on 8tracks Radio.

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

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

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

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

SoundCloud stats

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

So yeah, it’s legit.

Setting up your campaign

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

feature.fm step2

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

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

feature.fm step3

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

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

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

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

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

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

feature.fm step4

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

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

My Feature.fm results

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

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

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

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

plays breakdown
engagement

Is Feature.fm worth it?

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

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

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

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

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

YouTube comments

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

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

Feature.fm

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

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

More to come

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

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

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

Feature.fm Spotlight

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

8tracks stats

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

Have you tried Feature.fm? What do you think? Share your questions, thoughts, and results in the comments!

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Brian Hazard

Brian Hazard

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60 Responses

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

    1. Nice to hear from you Akasha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Hey Brian – As a test, we spent $50 on feature.fm to promote an older Telamor track called “Trippin'” on Deezer. We got 2,455 plays and 67 engagements for a 2.73% rate. The plays and engagements were 90% from the UK. The interesting thing is that the track is also on YouTube, and we immediately saw a sharp uptick in YouTube views from the UK. Because it’s an older track, there was no reason for this mini-surge other than the Deezer campaign. Clearly, someone was listening.

    1. Very nice! So the plays were 90% from the UK, but you didn’t restrict the targeting? I find that I get 90% or more from France if I don’t restrict it, and when I do restrict it, the plays come very slowly.

  5. Hey Brian, thanks for this article. It encouraged me to create my own campaign for a track I have on Soundcloud. I was interested in knowing if the plays popped up immediately or the next day? I did a day campaign and I’m not seeing the plays on my Cloud. Thanks.

  6. I’ve been running a Feature.fm campaign for the past few weeks, but I never saw an option to promote through 8tracks or connect my Soundcloud account. Has that collaboration ended? I can’t really find any evidence on the internet at large, but maybe you’ll know just from glancing at the Feature.fm page.

    1. I don’t see 8tracks anymore either, unless it falls under the “Internet Radio” category. I’m only seeing Deezer, Internet Radio, and Popular Music Websites.

      I’ll see if Dan can clarify…

  7. Can you help interpret my results? This is a one day campaign which cost me $99.99, the majority of the plays were in France, this is my overall numbers.
    5,099=Sponsored Plays

    401=Engagements

    7.86%=Engagement Rate

    France 1,965 176 9.0%
    United Kingdom 472 41 8.7%
    Brazil 467 26 5.6%
    Germany 336 32 9.5%
    United States of America 183 8 4.4%
    Netherlands 109 10 9.2%
    Morocco 99 7 7.1%
    Belgium 89 11 12.4%

    1. Looks about right to me, since Deezer is headquartered in France. Are the engagements all playlist adds? It’s been awhile since I’ve done a campaign.

  8. Thank you so much for all your advice here, it’s an excellent resource! I’ve been trying feature FM and I’m not sure but did they stop using the Soundcloud API for their internet radio campaigns? Currently I can only give a Soundcloud link on the website campaign forms and that doesn’t seem to generate as many Soundcloud plays as it sounds like the internet radio campaigns that you wrote about did.

    I wrote to customer service there and haven’t heard back, maybe now the best way to go is with their Deezer campaign but it would be great if Soundcloud streams were still an option. Can you shed any light on this?

    1. That’s no good! If memory serves, the link gives you a $10 credit, which used to correspond with 400 plays back when they were on 8tracks. I’ll follow up with them and get a better credit or a new banner!

    2. Alright, just heard back from Dan:

      It depends what campaign you choose. On Deezer, it should actually be 500 plays. I believe internet radio has higher bidding and would be 250. Also, the $10 can even be used on a website ad where it would get around 5,500-6,000 impressions.

      Still, I’ve asked for a new banner that’ll reflect the flat $10 credit. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    1. You mean the banner ad campaigns? I’ve never had any luck with banner ads, on any platform. Last I tried was with ReverbNation’s Promote It, which I documented here somewhere. Basically no measurable benefit.

    1. That particular stat doesn’t strike me as suspicious in the slightest. If you said you had 200 plays with 400 engagements, well, that’s another story.

      I have no reason to doubt their stats. It would be difficult if not impossible, or at the very least, not cost-effective, to fake those kind of numbers across an entire platform.

    2. Thanks Brian,
      Yes, I think it make sense what you say.
      Technically, the data about plays and engagements can come from different tables, which are updated with different frequency.
      But more probably, I think their data quality is just not very good.

  9. Hey Brian!

    I’d really love to start using feature.fm for my band Sex Cauldron, and your articles are really convincing me it’s worth it, BUT (always a but lol) does it work for Spotify? or is it mainly Deezer?

    Admittedly, I could care less about Deezer plays. I don’t know a single person who uses Deezer, and most don’t even know it exists! Of course I want my band’s music to be heard around the world, but as a local band from Toronto (Canada), Spotify numbers are almost exclusively what the promoters are looking at in terms of music.

    Soundcloud plays are a nice touch for sure, but it just doesn’t have that same cache as Spotify. Everyone knows you can very easily fake those numbers since there’s no listener/area count.

    Are there any legit promotion companies/sites dedicated to Spotify playlists, if not feature.fm? I realize Spotify doesn’t allow payola, but surely there are some backroom dealings goin down somewhere that aren’t just bot plays. I was looking into sellers on Fiverr, and although those artists do have big stream/follower numbers now, it’s painfully obvious the playlists were curated by bots and it just looks so tacky.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for the interesting read!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Mike!

      Right now, Deezer is the only major streaming service that Feature.fm supports.

      Yeah, I’d stay away from Fiverr if you don’t want to get banned from Spotify.

      Playlist Push is definitely legit. I’ve written about them here, including a discount code.

      I’m currently in the process of testing out two more Spotify PR services, so look for those reviews soon!

    2. Thanks for the quick response Brian!

      I just read your article on Push, seems very intriguing! Although I’ll admit I’m scared to hear what curators say about my band lol we’re stoner rock/post grunge. I’m gonna try and talk my bandmates into this investment asap. Thanks again for your guidance! I’ve subbed to ensure I keep up to date with your promotional adventures haha 🙂

  10. I tried to do an ad campaign on Feature.fm but was (I think) entirely unsuccessful. I was unable to target anything beyond my genre. There was no way that I could see to target by location, etc. There also seemed to be no way to put in a daily spending limit. Since I’m assuming that I’m doing something entirely wrong I just stopped the campaign. The site seems pretty straightforward but perhaps they’ve changed the targeting functions since you wrote the article? I do have trouble understanding things at times due to an intellectual disability but it’s usually things like algebra and abstract concepts. I just wonder if perhaps I was supposed to subscribe to some of their monthly services in order to utilize more extensive targeting?

    1. I haven’t run a campaign in quite awhile now, but I’m willing to bet it’s not you. I recently emailed Dan to ask about trying another Deezer campaign, but I haven’t heard back. My guess is they’ve got something really exciting on the horizon and have their energies focused there.

      I highly doubt subscribing to their services would affect your campaign targeting options.

    2. Hi Brian, thanks for replying! My first campaign focused on popular music sites and the results were truly grim. I might as well have just thrown fifty bucks out the window. So I switched to a Deezer campaign and the outcome was much better…at least according to Feature.fm’s stats. Their stats indicate that my song was added to quite a few playlists (on Deezer) which is cool. I followed your suggestion and made a custom action button asking for people to like my page on Facebook. Feature.fm’s stats say that 22 people engaged with the button but I did not receive any new likes on my FB page. I’m kinda curious to what that even means? Did 22 people press the button and then not follow the link? Did the link not work? I’m new to music promotion but I’m surprised that out of 22 people not even one managed to actually like my page even with a link that definitely works for me. I would really like to know how people engaged with the button and why there was apparently no follow through. If I’m making a terrible mistake in my execution of the campaign I’d like to know about it and correct it. But regardless, overall I am pretty pleased with the Deezer campaign but I would say it would be a lot more helpful if I could actually see some of data on Deezer. I emailed Deezer yesterday about an artist page (where you can view data like Spotify has) and they said they currently do not have such a thing. Anyway Brian, I would love your feedback on the issue with the button. Thanks – Mashugana Jones

    3. I got a ton of Deezer playlist adds too, but from what I can tell, it didn’t translate into many plays, or interest in the material that followed. But like you said, the biggest issue is that Deezer doesn’t offer any sort of artist portal so we can see for ourselves!

      As for the the 22 Facebook engagements, I suppose it could be a bug, or maybe the 22 engagements were shares and not likes? I’d hit up Feature.fm support for clarification.

  11. I emailed Feature.fm as you suggested and I’m sure eventually I’ll hear back from them. My campaign has come to an end and I supposedly ended up on 47 Deezer playlists. My stats also indicate that 38 people added me as a favorite and 43 people supposedly liked me on FB or at least somehow interacted with the button. Even though I’m pleased with the results I think it’s almost like taking a placebo. In other words the results of the campaign help me to believe that somehow I’ve done something to promote my music but really I may have accomplished nothing as the data is entirely unverifiable. I don’t think I’ll use Feature.fm again until the Deezer data is verifiable.

    1. I hear ya. Those sound like good numbers to me, but even if you trust that they’re true, there’s no way to track your growth on the platform over time beyond seeing your fan count go up. You’d think at least the track you’re promoting would jump to the top slot in Top Tracks, but for me, that wasn’t the case.

    2. Hey…this was my question to Feature.fm and their reply. I edited this to make it much shorter. Anyway I’m sorry for posting so many times about this. I have found the experience frustrating.

      Query from me:

      “Just had a question about my campaign. I did a customized button to “like us on facebook.” So far (the campaign is not over) the stats say that 36 people interacted with the button. But we saw zero additional likes on our FB page. Was just wondering if perhaps I’d implemented the custom button incorrectly. Just wondering what the 36 people actually did with the button? Did they just click on it and not follow through? Did the link break? Was I at fault in my execution? Did they go to the FB page and just bail on it? I mean I know that happens at times cuz I do it when I look at pages. Just curious to know what happened.”

      Reply from Shiran at Feature.fm:

      “Once a fan clicks on a service, they then have to authorize their account to Feature.fm so we can add the music to their library on release date, as well as follow/like your specified profiles. A fan can click on a service, but then choose not to authorize if they’d like. This is why we separate these two actions, instead of relying just on clicks to service for a definitive number.

      Here’s an article that discusses how to understand Pre-Save Analytics that I think you may find helpful: https://help.feature.fm/en/articles/2873211-understanding-pre-save-analytics

      Cheers, Shiran”

      I don’t think this reply really addresses my question at all. But perhaps I’m a bit obtuse. Not sure if it’s even worth doing a follow up question as I don’t think they actually read my question the first time. I was not asking about pre-saves but maybe this is an explanation of how the button works in general? Maybe they are saying that if someone clicks on the customized button that they have to be routed through feature.fm before it (the button) can actually execute and connect to FB? If that is the case then no wonder no one follows through. I certainly wouldn’t.

    3. I think Shiran scanned your question and jumped to a canned response. As you though, it applies to Spotify but not Facebook. There is no separate authorization for Facebook assuming you’re signed in.

    4. Well I guess I learned a lot from it. If I do another campaign I’ll just do something less nebulous with the button. I hope I don’t sound completely negative about it. I more or less just want to figure out my mistakes so that the next time things work better.

    1. I use Feature.fm Smart Links for presaves with every release. One feature I really appreciate is that I don’t need to have a Spotify link to create it! I can just add the link when the release goes live.

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Brian Hazard is a recording artist with over twenty years of experience promoting eleven Color Theory albums, and head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.

His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion.

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