Inside Sonicbids: EPKs & Opportunities


Over the next two weeks we’ll be taking a look at the leading companies offering indie and d.i.y artists services that help them capture, communicate with and monetize their relationship with their fans. OurStage, ReverbNation, Nimbit and Topspin will each be featured along with one or two others based on reader suggestions.  Up first today is Sonicbids and our exclusive interview with founder and CEO Panos Panay.

Sonicbids_logoSonicbids is that rare Music 2.0 business that is not only more than 5 years old, but one that people are  actually willing to pay for. At a time when everyone expects free, 150,000 musicians pay $5.95 a month or $50 to $100 a year to create a electronic press kit (EPK) on Sonicbids and use it to get gigs on their own or via the site’s expansive list of opportunities.

But with all success comes criticism, and a few indie artists have been vocal critics of what they see as Sonicbids’ pay to play offers. While maintaining a belief that paying a small fee to submit to, for example, play at Milwaukee Summerfest is a "filter", Soncbids CEO Panos Panay is working to make the process more transparent and the "opportunities" stronger.

"In the beginning, we did not do as good a job as we should have weeding out the gigs and other opportunities that did not present real value to the artist," admits Panay."…

"After an ongoing series of advisory panel meetings around the country and in Canada, we’re changing that." Some of Sonicbids’ offerings like showcasing at SXSW, CMJ or the NACA college booking conventions and submitting  a song to international songwriting competitions always carried a price tag. Sonicbids simply streamlined the process by taking it electronic. Other Sonicbids opportunities were simply off limits for artists without insider contacts.

"We’re very proud to provide the opportunity for an unknown artist to get their songs played during MTV’s Video Music Awards or the $20,000 we spent so a few bands could tour China," says Panay.  "Last year we spent $500,000 on gig sponsorships and Sonicbids members booked 60,000 gigs."

Beyond providing more "aspirational" gigs, the site will also offer some free sponsor supported opportunities later this year, and all offerings will come with more transparency.  "The talent buyers providing the gigs are becoming more visible members of our community," says Panay, and each submission will soon come with a money back guarantee.  "If you submit, you deserve a response," he states. "If you don’t get a response or your EPK is not reviewed, then you can get a site credit.”

"Our real product is not just the EPK, but rather our network and the opportunities we present for musicians to connect with gigs and people they could not reach on their own," concludes Panay.

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  1. Sonicbids, for all its criticism, has performed a number of very valuable services for indie artists, one of which is creating one easy to use marketplace with gig opportunities, contests, and convention performance slots for independents.
    Other companies you should look at include Disc Makers, the company that virtually enabled the DIY ethos that pervades today’s indie music scene, and CD Baby, which allows more than a quarter of a million musicians to sell their CDs and downloads online.

  2. Sonicbids does little for musicians except monopolize the attention of booking agents who use it, requiring the musicians to pay for access that was formerly free. It’s like putting valet parking in a free parking lot — the better to monetize, but the worse to use.
    I’d be surprised if the results are better for booking agents, because better players are already busy and will stay away from anything that triggers their scam detector.

  3. Sonicbids is a total scam. Our band was stupid enough to fall into it to. It didn’t take us long to figure out that they keep accepting submission money for events that the promoter has already CLOSED, they have never fixed their tracking service because they don’t want you to know that the promoter you just paid $50 to never even viewed your kit, and they have NO customer service. You never hear back or maybe after four months.
    We found a MUCH better service that doesn’t have the BS, doesn’t look like a cartoon, understands the struggling musician and works FOR us, and has customer service reps online up to 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Even on holidays!
    myPPK Power Press Kits. NO per-use fees, no pay-to-play. Graphic themes are great and you can make your own theme for cheap. We STRONGLY recommend everyone who has been scammed by soncibids check out Power Press Kits.

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