I’d like to set the record straight here on the issues covered in this post. When William interviewed me, I was under the assumption that this article was going to cover how I, as a DIY artist, use online tools to my advantage. I would first like to say that ReverbNation, CD Baby, Facebook band pages, and the like provide an amazing set of tools, either for free, or for what, in my opinion, are very reasonable prices for the services they provide. All of ReverbNation’s basic features are completely free, and artists are only charged around $5 a month for the more advanced features that they themselves elect to sign up for. I have an enormous respect for these companies and the people behind the scenes brainstorming and creating brand new tools that allow artists to connect with listeners in ways that are more personal and more instantaneous than has ever been possible. Which is why I chose to intern at ReverbNation for about three months this past fall – I wanted to be part of the action.
My time spent working at ReverbNation, as well as my experience as a VERY new-to-the-industry musician, as well as simple common sense, have all taught me that simply creating accounts on these websites and then expecting them to somehow magically garner attention and allow me to rise to fame is completely ridiculous [insert big fat DUH]. I agree with everyone who has posted to say that these sites are simply tools – valuable ones – that, if used in proactive and creative new ways, coupled with traditional grass roots efforts and live performances – can reap enormous benefits.
To me, raising $2100 on my Kickstarter project for my first album was a huge success – my original goal was only $800. For that I can only give a huge thanks to the folks at ReverbNation – the site to which I primarily referred potential Kickstarter backers – for giving me the ability to post music that folks can stream easily and for free. They also helped me to spread word of the Kickstarter project by leveraging the email addresses I’ve collected through their free mailing list feature. Those tools, in addition to my connections with people on Facebook and YouTube, helped me to achieve something that I never would have thought possible a year ago. (And when Gruger says I “invested heavily” in YouTube and other online tools, I assume he is referring to the time investment – not monetary investment – because I have spent relatively little or no money on each of these sites.)
I am lucky in that I had the means to spend more than $2000 on the recording and production of my first record – what Gruger refers to as being “in the red” – but what was, in my opinion, a necessary investment needed to take my musical career to the next level. (And as an aside, a quality record could have easily been produced for less than $2000).
My main point is that the object at this point in my career is not to be making money. It is to be making connections and developing a reputation for making good music. And far from “exploiting” me, websites like ReverbNation, CDBaby, Facebook, etc. are allowing me to do that. So to them, I really can only say a big “thank you.”