NoiseTrade is one of the quietest of the music tech startups that I consider top of the class. But now that they're planning to add a section for writers, called NoiseTrade Books, they're making a bit more noise. I spoke this week with co-founder Brannon McAllister about how NoiseTrade has been doing and why it's still a great tool for artists seeking to raise their profile. And I include some thoughts of my own on why giving away music for free can sometimes be a smart thing to do.
What I didn't realize was that NoiseTrade, after an extended period of building a great product and working with a lot of artists, were raising their profile in preparation for the launch of NoiseTrade Books. While I'm personally quite interested in this new development, we focused more on the company's progress and support of musicians.
How NoiseTrade Works
The basic idea of NoiseTrade is that you offer a song, an EP, a whole album or related digital content for free to whoever's interested. In the process NoiseTrade collects emails for you and provides analytics on the backend. You maintain control of your music while building your email list with the support of NoiseTrade.
But this isn't a give it all away and make money elsewhere approach. NoiseTrade facilitates music giveaway for specific campaigns designed to spread awareness and build direct contact with fans.
In fact, some musicians are doing well off the tips that fans can choose to give. Those numbers can vary widely but McAllister pointed out that it's certainly more than you'd make streaming music on Spotify. Plus NoiseTrade isn't nearly as noisy as Spotify, making discovery easier, while Spotify hogs most data for themselves. NoiseTrade gives you the data and you don't have to pay for it.
NoiseTrade makes money by taking 20% of tips and offering premium features, in particular, feature spots on the homepage and in their newsletter. Beyond that it's a totally free service. If you don't get tips or buy a feature, there are no fees involved.
NoiseTrade Stats and Successes
McAllister shared a few stats. Currently they have 1.2 million subscribers to their email list. 17,000 active music acconts and average over 450 thousand monthly downloads.
Though NoiseTrade has an indie feel, major labels have used it to help introduce new artists by having them featured on the site. But they've done quite well for indie acts as I discussed last year.
McAllister told me about The Oh Hellos who successfully used the service to share over 35,000 downloads in 233 markets. They'd never toured before and were able to create a national tour using the email list and related data as a basis for figuring out where to tour and to let people know they were coming.
This approach is much more powerful than knowing where people are listening without having a direct way to contact them.
Recent Developments and Future Plans
Yet you don't hear much about NoiseTrade. McAllister explained that they have a small team not all of whom are full-time. In addition, they're totally bootstrapped and, since they're pulling that off successfully, they're not trapped by the expectations of investors to get attention and growth as rapidly as possible.
Instead, they've been able to focus on building their product and working with their customers. That focus led them to continue to develop NoiseTrade on the backend as well as making design changes though the overall concept has stayed pretty much the same.
Recent upgrades include a responsive design, so the site can be more easily accessed via mobile. Analytics have been improved including a heatmap of fans.
Future plans include making it easier for fans to tip and adding streaming to the mix. But before that happens, NoiseTrade Books will likely have launched.
NoiseTrade Books is the same basic idea. For example, you can offer a short story or free chapter of your new book, gather emails and find out where people are interested. Though the writing game is a bit different, I've long noticed that musicians have better tools for web marketing than writers so I think there's a lot of potential here.
As I hope I've made clear, NoiseTrade is on my list of really great tools for musicians. So if you're wishing to raise your profile while building your email list, I'd recommend checking it out.
- Why Isn't NoiseTrade A Bigger Deal?
- NoiseTrade & Musicians Succeed With Free Music
- Goldminds: A Vision For The Future Of The Indie Music Community
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.