Quite often I get asked how one gets a song into a commercial, and I'm typically left without an intelligent response. When the subject of "how did you discover so-and-so" comes up with agency folks, I usually don't get enough data to map any kind of path from band to brand. These days, music discovery seems more spontaneous than ever.
Of course, if you're on a major label and already have marketing dollars/people behind you, its a little less happenstance. But what about everyone else in the not-so-silent majority?
With its new Sponsored Song program, ReverbNation is aiming to give some of its member bands marketing dollars that would normally be unavailable to them. According to Hypebot, 1,000 out of the site's 400,000 indie artists are eligible to join the pilot program, whereby advertiser logos will be implanted into the cover art of a song, and bands, in exchange, will receive .50 per download.
The program, whose first campaign will begin in mid-June and last three months, will provide reach metrics to the participating brand by tracking the songs with a digital watermark as they move through peer-to-peer networks, Jed Carlson, co-founder and chief operating officer of ReverbNation, told Songs for Soap via e-mail. Mr. Carlson wouldn't reveal who that initial sponsor is, only divulging that it's a "tier-1 company."
Participating bands will be able to direct fans to the branded download site with tools that will include banners, widgets, and e-mail.
In a statement, Michael Doernberg, CEO of ReverbNation, said: "Traditionally the music business has been synonymous with the record business where the lion's share of revenue came from selling music. With reduced emphasis on music sales, the music business must develop new revenue streams that leverage the artist as a brand."
While moderating a panel at the SanFran MusicTech Summit in San Francisco on Monday, we received several questions from independent musicians asking about sponsorships and licensing, and our panelists did a pretty good job of answering them. While discussing artist promotional packages for music supervisors, labels, etc., Robbie Lloyd of Silva Artist Management offered this bottom line: your songs have to be good.
It's not the most instructive advice, but quite obviously the determining factor. If there's any secret sauce, it seems to be developing a dedicated following as a band, doing all the other things you're supposed to be doing anyway. Again, not the most instructive advice, but this seems to be the best way to get sponsored, not just licensed.
When you're ready to take the next step, though, there are now tools like Sponsor Pitch for finding sponsors, SonicBids' licensing tools, and now ReverbNation may have another answer for bands seeking marketing dollars with its Sponsored Song program.
Any other good band-brand tools for indie artists that I've missed? Suggest some in the comments.