by Hugh McIntyre
Today, two well-known companies in the music industry serving up-and-coming musicians of all sizes and from any genre have combined forces to create one singular, even more powerful firm, with a renewed focus on research and reviews as a first priority moving forward. ReverbNation, a well-established artist services firm, has acquired AudioKite, one of the most exciting names in music-related consumer research, and together the two will provide artists the tools to test their new musical offerings out before investing further capital into them.
While most companies that spend money on producing something for the consumer market test their products in groups or on individuals before anything goes on sale, that sort of process has never been a necessity in music, though both ReverbNation and AudioKite have been attempting to change that for the past few years. Research startup AudioKite, which was created in 2014 and has recently become one of the most talked-about startups in the music space, allowed any artist to pay to have their music critiqued and commented on by thousands of qualified, verified reviewers, who can give them insight into what works in a particular song, what doesn’t flow quite right and what else that artist could do to grab their attention and stand out in a musical landscape that is becoming more and more crowded by the day.
Not too long ago, ReverbNation launched a similar tool called Crowd Review, which also allows musicians to pay to have their new wares heard and reviewed by real people with some knowledge of music. While the company was essentially offering the same product as AudioKite, according to the firm’s CEO, it was all thanks to outside partners, and that’s not the best way to keep the business going.
“ We acquired AudioKite because we wanted to more fully integrate Crowd Review into other aspects of the site, including our ability to deliver more comprehensive and insightful information to promoters of festivals, licensing companies and radio at a much broader scale than we could through partnership,” explained ReverbNation CEO Mike Doernberg.
While this sort of research doesn’t come cheap, especially for cash-strapped independent musicians —just 20 reviews for one song on the now combined ReverbNation/AudioKite program will run $9.95, and it goes up from there—the answers can be extremely valuable, as the questions that musicians can propose to reviewers are customizable, and they can help these artists perfect their craft and produce a product that the masses may want to buy in a way they’ve never been able to before.
“This deal allows us to provide answers to specific questions artists have about their music or a single track,” Doernberg reasoned. “‘Is the guitar solo good?’, ‘What do you think about the bridge?’, ‘Could you dance to this song?’ The AudioKite technology enables us to answer these kinds of custom questions for our artists, which is very important to them.”
The answers to these questions may seem somewhat trivial, but for an artist looking to create something that has a shot at going mainstream and taking the artist behind the tune with it, this sort of research could be a game-changer. Making music is already difficult and expensive, but sometimes the real challenge and the true costs can come with the promotion. The studio time and fees associated with hiring a mixer and producer can run in the thousands, but that figure can easily double when an artist, or their label, if they have one, begins paying for services such as radio promotion, PR and advertising. When all is said and done, sometimes a full campaign around a could-be hit single might wind up costing tens of thousands, and plenty have failed because in the end, it turns out there was something not quite right with the track, which meant it never found its footing with a large audience.
Artists with a new single they believe might have a chance should invest in this form of musical research, because while every music maker surely feels their product is priceless, spending a few dollars to hear what people actually think might prove otherwise.