Braver than Fiction have been using the ReverbNation platform since the band was put together in the summer of 2013 and, whilst we have found some of the free features extremely useful, we do not think that the Premium (paid) features are cost-efficient as far as our needs and expectations are concerned so, we have come to a decision…
Everyone knows that you do not get very much for nothing in this life and whilst we do not choose to pay for ReverbNation’s Premium perks, this does not mean that we think paying for them is a bad thing (although we have noticed that by paying for them your profile is significantly raised which does cause us some concern regarding the reliability of ReverbNation’s statistics).
However, if that is the way you want to go and if you can afford the investment – great; if not, there exists a plethora of gratis tools (which you can choose to upgrade to Premium versions later). The list of available ReverbNation tools is extensive but we will just concern ourselves here with our experience of the main ones that we have used:
We have not had too much call to contact ReverbNation’s “knowledgable support team” but on the few occasions that we have they have indeed been right on the ball and have straightened out any issues we had with a cheerful tone and professional nature – we cannot fault them.
Whilst this is a fun feature, that is really where it begins and ends for us. The standings are too easily manipulated and apparently, significantly weighted in favour of those who can afford the various Premium packages. Yeah, OK – when we first joined ReverbNation we maintained a steady #1 spot in our local Alternative Chart (and a healthy top 40-ish in the national equivalent) without paying for Premium but, we regard it as an accolade of whimsy (not to be taken seriously – really).
At the time we pulled our main ReverbNation engagement, Braver than Fiction were #1 in the Alternative Charts for Sheffield (UK), #33 in the Alternative National (UK) Charts and #285 in the Alternative Global Charts but within a few days of the reduction in activity from us we saw our ‘position’ start to plummet.
It takes a great deal of time to sift through all of our ReverbNation ‘fans’ (ReverbNation’s tag – not ours, we prefer ‘followers’) and interacting with them is really not straightforward. Having to wade through CAPTCHA codes every time you want to respond to a ‘fan’ request is tedious and eats into the time we have available to interact with our followers (in other words – we could be doing better things than re-enacting scenes from Bletchley Park every time we want to send a message).
There is also no way to contact your ReverbNation ‘fans’ en masse unless they have all joined your mailing list. Whilst we appreciate that this block is in place to combat spamming (another weighty problem with ReverbNation), it would be more desirable for us to be able to achieve this without jumping though quite so many hoops.
This mailing list feature is quite a nifty idea but unless you pay for a Premium service, you are somewhat limited in the number of subscribers you can have and the type of template you can use. We do not like intrusive, graphics-heavy emails that clog up our followers’ inboxes and take an eternity to scroll through. ReverbNation’s basic templates are actually quite slick but nevertheless, we will be switching to a different provider in the near future.
When we do, we will be taking care of all of everything and if you are one of our subscribers you do not have to do anything; you will get a confirmation message to let you know we have included you on the new mailing list.
Meanwhile, if you are not a subscriber you can still sign up to receive our monthly newsletter as it remains active via ReverbNation for now.
One way to engage in a lengthier fashion with our followers has been to utilise the ReverbNation Blog feature. We had the choice to write a fresh blog, just for ReverbNation followers or, link to this blog and the latter was what we chose to do, via our WordPress RSS Feed.
This was not out of idleness but instead to support our mission to maintain continuity across our various social media platforms.
This feature is not customisable enough and editing some of the information requires a complete re-post; quite often, the suggestions ReverbNation offer are duplicated (making choices problematical) and the data we have entered defaults to something else entirely that is basically incorrect. When it does populate with the correct information it is a reasonably useful tool (being able to add the ReverbNation profiles of acts you are performing with is rather cool, for example) but the end result is something that we can reproduce ourselves on our own website and via Bandsintown / Songkick with a lot less fuss.
We like this – there is a lot of usability in the ‘free’ version but again, if you want full control over this mobile app you are going to have to reach for your wallet. Discouragingly though, we have found the take-up on our mobile app is minimal, perhaps because it does not push any information that is not readily available elsewhere and in a fully-responsive format, such as our official website or maybe we have not promoted it enough.
Just like the mailing list, it is a feature we will be reluctant to discontinue using but, it is important to know when to cull anything that is just not working for us.
The ReverbNation Facebook apps are allegedly among the best out there right now but for us they contain nothing of value that we do not already include on our own, official website or indeed, on our official Facebook page. We trialled them but stopped using them in favour of the widgets from Bandcamp, Bandsintown and Songkick.
All of the ‘free’ widgets on the ReverbNation site are branded (although quite tastefully) and really not customisable enough – you can remove the branding if you pay for Premium service but even so, the widgets are not very sexy. Other than the expected HTML, there is no official plugin code provided and so, to embed them into your blog, for example, is a bit of a palaver. It can be done and there are plugins available to assist you but any solution involves a lot of tweaking that could be avoided if ReverbNation would code an official plugin.
(After writing the original blog post, some have been updated, as you can see below).
Simply put, if you do not pay to have a ReverbNation EPK (Electronic Press Kit) in place, you cannot apply for any ‘free’ ReverbNation “opportunities” although this is not to say that the investment is not worth the potential reward. Whilst we were using a ReverbNation free trial, we applied for a few opportunities and one that we were successful with was securing the opening slot for Sheffield Tramlines 2014 at The Leadmill. So the process does work (all the naysayers who cite it as a scam are wrong) but what really surprised us was that any support from ReverbNation was non-existent.
Other than a perfunctory, congratulatory email to let us know we had been selected, we are not aware of any press/social media activity at all from ReverbNation – not even a line or two on their own website citing a successful outcome for one of ‘their’ artists (that we are aware of). We were approached by ReverbNation, many weeks after the event and asked if we would agree to be featured as a successful “opportunities” artist but, nothing that we know of has materialized, to date…
We have never paid for any of ReverbNation’s promoted features but, we have been offered a couple of free trials. The stats from those trials (which were based on an equivalent spend of $10.00/£6.50) implied that on first glance, our advertisements did not do very well.
However, we are well aware that vast numbers of people need to be reached in order to make a significant difference to any statistic and our foray into paid promotion was modest so we should not have expected too much in the first place. Nevertheless, without going into too much depth and/or crunching too many numbers, here are the results of each of our ‘3-Day Free Trials’ from ReverbNation:
- Campaign #1 featured our advertisement to promote our video for “Your Little Fantasy” on 1,037 premium sites (such as eBay and MTV); it was seen by 8,015 pairs of eyes and 5 of those eye-owners viewed our video. That seemed discouragingly disproportionate to us at the time so, when were offered further ‘3-Day Free Trial’ we accepted it and tried a different campaign.
- Campaign #2 put our advertisement to promote our Facebook page in front of 87,274 Facebook users; just 42 of them clicked on the link but according to ReverbNation, the genre average for similar campaigns is 57.5 ‘clicks’ so by comparison, our campaign was not too shabby. We picked up a dozen new ‘likes’ so it was certainly not a disaster but we are wondering what we did to scare the other 30 ‘clickers’ away.
Basically, we proved our own point that to make any kind of impression (pardon the pun) when promoting click advertisements you have to be prepared and able to spend a little more cash. Overall though, whilst there is always room for improvement, for a ‘3-Day Free Trial’ based on a very low budget and a small reach we honestly did not think that the results were too bad.
We did not want folks to feel like they were paying through the nose for our merchandise and so, we were not overly disappointed when ReverbNation announced they were pulling the Reverb Store feature at the close of September 2014.
We now carry T-shirts via Teespring.
In a nutshell then: by paring down our ReverbNation presence, we can devote more of our time to creating the music our followers want to hear and finding new ways to provide them with the band-related trinkets that we know they will love.
So thank you to ReverbNation for hosting our shenanigans for just over a year now. We still think that you have a great product (this is in no way a rant – we are just laying out our reasons for culling an established part of our social presence so that our followers understand) and even though we have decided not to continue using your service, we respect that it is each to their own; we know a lot of folks thoroughly enjoy using it and we sincerely wish them well in doing so. In fact, we would highly recommend ReverbNation as a great networking medium for bands and artists with enough time (and disposable income) on their hands to make the most of ReverbNation’s potential.
The bottom line here is that ReverbNation is just not right for us – at this time. We have had fun with it but for now, we are out of there.
That said, we will not be deleting our ReverbNation profile entirely; it will still exist as a point of reference and we will check in occasionally but we will not be making any further announcements through ReverbNation, other than neccessary updates and through our mailing list, in the forseeable future so please take a moment to follow these links to our other social spaces and like, share, follow, subscribe, bookmark etc. so that you can keep up with our latest news: Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, Google+, YouTube, SoundCloud.