I discovered Earbits Online Radio awhile back through Hypebot, and as far as I know, I was one of the first round of artists to sign up. They had set themselves apart from other online radio stations by their commitment to promoting the independent artists versus using artists as stepping-stones to their own agenda. I loved that about them, and was glad to give it a run and see how it went.
I was impressed early on with how well they connected the listener to the artist that was playing. I discovered several bands I still love today, signed up for a few email lists, and even bought 2 different albums because of it. I also benefited myself with the occasional tweet talking about my music and listening spikes on my Bandcamp pages.
Recently they started offering promoted spins. I was skeptical at first, primarily because I hoped that it wouldn’t change the organic and connected feel of the site into a promotion heavy advertising site. But as far as I could tell, it was invisible when it launched. I still heard great music when listening to my favorite channels, and I couldn’t tell which ones were people who had paid for the promotional spot or not.
I signed up with the hope of tracking all the results as early as possible to see what it did for me on my end.
Their analytics were a bit slim at first, but they provided all the necessary information I needed to determine the value of the promotion. They also allowed me to alter what showed up on the pages when my songs were played, which gave people even more ways to reach me once they heard and liked a song.
I tracked all the responses to the promotion as best as I could and tried to trace email signups and music purchases back to the source to see if it was valuable in the long run. The sales of my own music came both from Bandcamp and from a paypal widget I used on my own website. So here are the numbers, and you can judge for yourself the value.
Promoted plays: 1,800
New Facebook Likes: 31
Mailing List Signups: 24
Sales from Facebook Fans: $24
Sales From Email Signup: $65
Promoted plays: 1,800
New Facebook Likes: 28
Mailing List Signups: 3
Sales from Facebook Fans: $20
Sales From Email Signup: $38
To help parse it out, here is how I tracked it. It was a very manual process, but one that I felt was necessary to judge the value of the investment.
I waited until the end of each promotion to respond to people. To everyone on Facebook I sent a message welcoming them, thanking them for liking the page and linking them to a free download on my site. I then watched downloads and purchases on Bandcamp for names from that list to see if they acted on the initiation.
If they signed up on the email list, I did the same thing, but I offered more information and was a bit more personal. I then kept an eye on Paypal and Bandcamp for purchases and downloads.
If the same person both liked my Facebook page and signed up for emails, I only counted them on the email list for analytics purposes.
The result was an overall profit of $89. That’s not a lot of money when taken at face value, but it may help to know that one of my previous albums, “Things Change” was entirely funded by about 50 fans. So what I really gained is the potential of a few more “true” fans who will hopefully be a part of my career from this point on.
For a comparison of a other streaming radio stations, during that same time range my music was streamed on Spotify 95 times gaining me an income of $.55 and no connection to the listeners unless they went and searched for me on their own after.
Earbits has already created a listening base that expects to hear quality new music, and it provides a variety of ways to connect with that band once you’ve heard them and fallen in love with their music. With promoted plays being integrated so seamlessly into the site, I think it’s a reasonable investment for an artist looking to find new fans outside of traditional venues.
As a listener I hope they continue to place a priority on integrating “paid” spins into the mix so that they add to the lovely experience they’ve already created and aren’t intrusive.
I initially wrote a note to Earbits directly letting them know how grateful I was for their station and the work they were doing. After a little back and forth, they asked me to do a full writeup and explanation of my analysis. This article is it.
They sent me this link where you can go to sign up and get involved and submit your own music to Earbits radio. As a thank you, I get a few free dedicated spins for every band that signs up, so feel free to click through and get your music on the best online radio station around!
*Daniel Whittington is an independent artist living in Austin, TX. His music can be found on Earbits and www.danielwhittington.com. You can reach him on twitter at twitter.com/rhodesaudio*