Top 10 Indie Music Marketing Tools

Every week brings the launch of another online service to connect musicians and fans.  Beyond spending endless hours on MySpace and Facebook, what are the best affordable online tools to communicate with fans and monetize the relationship? Here are our picks in no particular order:

1. BANDZOOGLEIt all starts with a great web site and these guys give you the tools to build one quickly. If your site doesn’t do everything Bandzoogle does, ask your designer why or switch.

– Easily and affordable. Create a robust emailable electronic press kit (EPK) with bio, photos, mp3’s, videos and more.

3. CD BABY – The granddaddy of D.I.Y. music empowerment. Sell your CD’s and downloads in a large community that supports indie music.

NIMBIT- A one stop shop to help you sell CD’s, DVD’s, downloads, merch. and e-tickets with very fair commissions. Plus great tools to spread the word.

Everybody’s got widgets, but these guys get it right by enabling you to
grab your info, music, and video and spread it across the net. Free.

Communicate with fans, build a street team, get widgets and Facebook apps, sell stuff. Tools do do it all and most of them free.

7. TUNECORE Affordable flat rate digital distribution to all the major download sites worldwide with no strings attached.

made a great video for a $23.57 budget. Now what do you do with it?
Simultaneously upload to 18 sites including all the biggies then track performance.  Basic service is free. (Bonus: A list of viral video sites.)

tour dates on your website, MySace, Pure Volume, Last.fm, Jambase, Pollstar, Sonicbids and more all at once plus submit tour dates to local media.

(tie) You could use Twitter to communicate with fans, but not everyone
wants an account. Every cell can accept text messages.  Mozes is free
(carrier rates apply) and robust, but pays for itself with ads that
could upset some. Band TXT Alerts costs a little, but takes a way the

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  1. Hey Bruce,
    that’s a good list – I’m particularly partial to Reverb Nation and CDBaby from your list. I’d add Last.fm as a vital one, both because it’s a very different format to the others, and offers a great way to get to people who aren’t neccesarily looking for you via the tag radio etc. I’ve picked up a LOT of new listeners there.
    The jury’s out on Sonicbids at the moment – I know a few people that are seriously unhappy with the service they’ve had (particularly given the way the service is funded) and I’m waiting to hear any kind of satisfactory defense of the model or explanation of what the added value is of what you pay for over what you can get for free via a range of other services… I’m open to being convinced, but as yet, I’m not holding out much hope for it…
    I’ll check out the rest of the services on your list- all of which I’ve heard of, not all of which I’ve used…

  2. Thanks for the great comments and additional ideas.
    On Sonicbids, Steve I know some people object to their asking bands to pay to submit to things. I have some qualms too. But that is optional and can anyone name another service that does emailable EPK’s as well and as affordably as Sonicbids?

  3. Thank you, Mister, for arranging this list: I was planning on doing it myself, but you did a very good job.
    As always, there are few that are not here, but you got some very good ones in here.
    Keep up the great work!

  4. Thanks for this post! There are some good resources here! As a musician who’s trying to cultivate some sort of fan base, I am always interested in new way to make the fan experience more engaging and thus better.


  6. I took a look at Artistlaunch.com as Gavroche suggested and while a good tool it appeared they charged $50 a year and that the EPK was not emailable.
    Has anyone had experiences with them, other EPK companies or other sites I should add to par 2 of a list?

  7. How about Sellaband (www.sellaband.com). Beyond Myspace, they let fans invest on the band that they like and buy parts if they believe enough on that band so they could record an album. That’s a concept worth a shot for indie bands right?

  8. Great list. Great services. Also note that TiBconcerts.com makes it easy (and free) for bands to post their upcoming gigs and reach 5 million concert fan across the TiB network. The goal is to provide mad exposure for bands who dont always have the time, the money or the know-how to promote their gigs. Worth a shout out?

  9. Bandzoogle is an absolutely great service and I found Tunecore quite good all said and done.
    Having said that, I think Sonicbids is a bit of a scam. They take in a lot of bids for each opportunity and there are only a few places open. A great business idea on their part. A bit like the lottery.
    I think that for the few good services that are out there, there are an enormous amount of people who are just trying to coin it off indie musicians and most of them are probably musicians themselves. Pretty disgusting.

  10. Someone brought up Sellaband.
    Well, maybe you should re-think them based on this email exchange that I had personally with their CEO last weekend.
    This weekend, I contacted the CEO of Sellaband with these issues about their service:
    This is Uro from Canorous, an Electro/Folk/Pop social justice band based in Brooklyn NY USA and Budapest Hungary. I write and arrange all songs, play keyboards/programming sing lead and back-up.
    We have landed a producer/engineer and a mixer that have worked with [confidential] and were founding members of the band [confidential].
    We also have our own publishing company, copyrights to all my 75 new songs, and legal rep. from Greenberg Trauig in New York.
    My “day job” is as an executive in the Mobile Entertainment segment.
    While I’m impressed with your new music business model, and wish you success, I’m concerned about some of what I see as fatal flaws, an unsustainable business model due to near future artist backlash against Sellband. Perhaps you realize that your business model is still evolving, perhaps not.
    Anyway, here are a list of issues:
    1. 1/3 of all sales – This term is completely inappropriate, but especially on digital distribution outlets that are NOT a Sellaband website. We would only agree to 20% of revenue sold on a Sellaband site, not all 33% from all sites/brick and mortars.
    2. 1/3 of all publishing – This is also inappropriate, since I have my own publishing company. We want 80% return using Sellaband, and I’m bringing in my own producer and manager–not yours.
    3. Master Recording – I can’t believe that I’m even discussing this with you. What are we Chuck Berry? Master recording is owned by us if we are raising the money. Period.
    4. Leftover balace on $50k budget: We would want all of the leftover balance, if any.
    5. Emails and mobiles of users – If we are to market our music, we must play live gigs, and therefore, we will need access to our entire sellaband email/mobile number lists. Period.
    6. CD release – We don’t want to release ANY hardcopy CD: we ONLY want a digital album (no individual tracks online) and mobile downloads released.
    7. Free downloads – absolutely no free downloads whatsoever: streaming ok.
    8. Widgets – I want to able to place widgets on my sellaband page from other social communities. A must.
    If most of the terms are not agreed to, then, no, we are not interested and we’ll not recommend SellaBand to other bands/artists. Taking 1/3 of everything is too high of a price to charge for something that should be sold for a low flat fee. Tunecore and Nimbit have already done this and this is the immediate future of music.
    A flat fee would be much better and piss less artists off–like us. If you, are having trouble with the math – 50,000 artists paying a $100 annual fee for SellaBand services would generate $5,000,000 in gross ANNUAL revenue for SellaBand – without extracting a single percentage point from a single artist – IF that is how you [managed your] business – but that’s not the case.
    Let me know if you will agree to our terms, most of our terms, or revert to a flat fee model.
    Yours sincerely,
    Johan replied with this comment today:
    Dear Uro,
    Thank you for showing interest in SellaBand.
    You may be right that there are still some flaws in our concept and that certain aspects need to be tweaked. However, the answer lies not in the points you raise and we see no reason to meet your demands. You can sign up to SellaBand and agree with the current T&C, or feel free to try your luck elsewhere.
    Best regards,
    Johan Vosmeijer
    Then I replied back with this one:
    Thanks very much for reply Johan.
    Perhaps when your answers get circulated to all social networking band sites, forums and blogs and/or realize that you are not getting the quality of artists that you want will you then see a reason or two to pay attention to our requirements.
    As it stands, your business model is unsustainable: it is basically a web 2.0 version of the old record label business in that the label controls artist and rights. But actually, you don’t offer something that they used to: real old-fashioned Marketing!
    And so, your business model, my friend, is history (along with your company) if you don’t change. We can always set up a paypal account on our social networking band page to get donations, find top producers who are not tied to labels, etc, your business is not unique.
    We understand that you have expenses (web servers, hosting, music industry professionals, etc.), but at the same time, we, as artists, we will not be extorted any more.
    So, in closing, consider this: in the digital music business you need we, the Artist more than we will ever need you–you have no choice but to negotiate with us–either you will now, or you will soon enough, it’s your choice.
    Until your business model changes with the times, we will definitely pass on your offer, however, thank you.
    Good luck.

  11. How about beatbuggy.com and soundclick.com. Beatbuggy.com has been around since 2005. I use it to find instrumentals tracks for my album. Great resource!
    Soundclick has been in business since 1997. This has always been a great spot for indie artists. Buzznet is another good site for indies.

  12. Uro — Thanks for posting your correspondence with SellaBand! I have been very interested in that site since hearing about it a few months ago; it seemed like a great way for a artist to microfinance an album and release it. But, like you, I was thrown off by the terms of the user agreement, namely the 1/3 split and the rights to the masters. I was fascinated by SellaBand’s response — essentially a big fuck you from them.
    If they’re hoping to succeed, they gotta change their terms. If not, they at least have to recognize that in this age of social media and blogs, anything they write will be shared and they will be exposed as the greedy web2.0 version of the old record label regime.
    Well done, sir!

  13. Nice list! I recently discovered a great service for sending and receiving music, soundcloud.com, perfect for bands and small labels. though still in private beta it should have been on the list IMHO.

  14. In response to Alisha’s comment about EPKs, OurStage.com (disclaimer: I work here) does offer free EPKs for all artists. You can email them as you wish. They look great and there are no limits on the amount of media (audio or video), press clippings, photos etc. you can include.
    Normally I wouldn’t plug our company in such a public forum, but since the question was asked I thought I’d let anyone interested know what we have.

  15. Bruce et al – Emailing out EPKs was a lot more of a “big deal” when no one had their own website/MySpace/Facebook page.
    A well designed and written webpage should serve the same purpose and doesn’t require you to conform to anyone else’s idea of style.
    If a particular promoter requires an OurStage/Sonicbids EPK for submission, that’s a whole ‘nutha story.
    Remember, sites make money on advertising. Whose getting helped when you create that EPK? The answer should be you and you alone … otherwise your EPK is their way of getting pageviews and ad impressions.
    And yeah, I know and worked with/for folks at nimbit, OurStage, and Sonicbids. My advice (ultimately) is to control your own environment as much as possible. For that reason, I really like nimbit. Their stuff goes on your profile, not the other way around…

  16. These are great tools. Don’t forget that these tools should all lead fans to your own site where you are building an email list of fans. These sites can come and go and you don’t want to be totally dependent on them.
    Nowadays it’s easy to build your own site using WordPress for example.

  17. Thank you all for this wonderful pool of idea sharing….You are all very generous.
    I’d like to share our own helpful online endeavor….flashflashrevolution.com
    A kid on that site spun up (meaning he programed a game for it) our song Lemonade….2 million plays!!!!!
    No joke go get with ffr.
    And thanks again for all the info!
    brendan b brown

  18. One that you’ve overlooked – probably because it’s new – is Musowiki. This is a free global directory of services that musicians (musos) need to know about. If musos want to find someone to help build their team and achieve their next goal, it should be listed in Musowiki.
    Early days, but could be a powerhouse of the future.

  19. I think this is a great article that shows the shift in music marketing. Audiolife is another great tool. It allows artists to sell all of their digital downloads, ringtones, CDs, and merch from any website, blog or social network. In other words, you can have a store placed directly on an artist’s profile page that fans can purchase from. From the widget, fans can browse music/products and make the purchase without ever being re-directed to another website. This is critical because it leverages impulse buying and keeps your fans engaged in the online experience.

  20. Thanks for posting about Band TXT Alerts (www.bandtxtalerts.com). Just adjusted the pricing structure so hopefully now there is more of an incentive over Mozes!

  21. The only problem with all of these tools and widgets is that they vanish within a month or so after they were created. Too many companies doing the same thing with no real clear cut leaders.
    It’s a real shame.

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