Music platforms for Artists: the Pros and Cons of each one
Indie and DIY music artists and bands comprise 2.7% of the music market. Without label support, these bands need a way to upload and share their music. This is where the quite popular music platforms come in nowadays. These platforms offer bands a free or cheap way to upload and distribute their music, fund their projects, which can include whole EPs or albums, and — in general — perform their respective activities in the easiest and most convenient way possible. Music fans can create accounts on these platforms and easily access this music, ensuring that their funds are organically reaching the artist directly, rather than allocating a big portion of them to the different middle men roles. So, here are the different, most popular, music platforms for artists and their respective pros and cons:
Patreon isn’t limited to a music sharing platform. Rather, it’s a crowdfunding platform targeted to all creatives. Similarly to other music sharing platforms, you can upload your music to Patreon and your music can appear in their RSS feed. Since Patreon isn’t limited to music, there are other ways your band can gain some financing benefits, including different perks, exclusive content and more.
The biggest benefit of Patreon is the flexibility. Rather than promoting a new song or an album release, you can host a crowdfunding campaign and use the funds to invest in gear or other necessities. Many musicians and bands also use Patreon to promote limited edition or special release goods. This includes limited edition merch and unreleased songs, which helps the artist to create a more genuine and intimate connection with their fans and audiences.
Since Patreon isn’t a music-specific platform, it’s hard to use it to attract new fans. You’ll receive the most success attracting your current fan base to your Patreon and utilize its potential to your benefit. Another drawback is you constantly have to use the platform for donations and find new ways to promote your band on Patreon, which can present a whole set of difficulties and challenges in terms of the long-term performance of the artist, considering the constant need of strong creativity that is needed, so the artist can permanently attract attention.
ReverbNation is one of the go-to platforms for indie musicians and bands. You can easily upload your music and share your ReverbNation account with fans, labels, the press, promoters, and anyone else who can listen to your music. ReverbNation has a free service where you can create a profile and upload your music. It also offers paid services, so you can access publicity tools, such as hosting your own website, for example.
All artists benefit from exposure. But ReverbNation can open you up to a wider fan base — and you may attract some label attention as well. This is why ReverbNation states that the platform’s services are responsible for 22 artists signed a month, approximately.
While ReverbNation is open to music artists of all genres, it attracts a niche audience. For example, if you’re a hip-hop artist, you’ll benefit from using a competing platform such as SoundCloud. However, more metal bands and even techno artists can benefit, because their audience gravitates toward ReverbNation’s unique characteristics and activity.
Bandcamp is known as “the hero of the music industry.” Out of all of the music sharing platforms, Bandcamp is said to have the most artist-friendly service. First and foremost, Bandcamp is free for artists. You can upload songs for free listen and albums for purchase. If you have any music or merch for purchase, Bandcamp will take a percentage of those sales in return for the rendered services and assistance that it’s providing.
Bandcamp offers more than just a (free) way for bands to share their music, it allows bands to distribute their music and merch, gaining sales on their safe and convenient platform as well. This system is convenient for artists who are new and don’t have the budget for a website or web store, as well as seasoned bands who want more options for selling their music and merch. Bandcamp also helps bands keep more of their money, as it takes 15% commission for downloads and 10% commission for merchandise. Not only that, but artists can adjust their pricing to their liking, helping further increase their revenue streams.
Seasoned musicians and bands are the ones who suffer the biggest drawbacks. Bandcamp lacks customization and options. This is fine for new bands, but a downfall for bands who want their website serving an all-in-one place, offering album and merch sales as well as ticket sales, press contacts, and other vital information. Compared to its competitors, Bandcamp lacks the community aspect and the professional diversity that is needed and required nowadays. It is mainly a tool for bands to promote their music and gain album and merch sales. It doesn’t have that social media-savvy side, unlike what ReverbNation and SoundCloud offer. This can make it hard for artists and bands to attract new listeners.
SoundCloud is responsible for the careers of at least seven rappers. The platform offers artists more than just a way to upload and share music. They create a community and an easy-to-use platform to discover new artists.
SoundCloud is easy to use. All artists have to do is upload their track. The player is optimized for embedding on different platforms; perfect examples include a website and social media channels. This is why so many artists have been able to share their songs and albums primarily through SoundCloud.
What about downloads? SoundCloud offers a free download option, but you can also charge listeners for downloads. The website also recently offered a streaming service so artists can get paid for their streams as well as a music distribution service. SoundCloud built a model specifically supporting indie and DIY music artists. This helps any artist of any genre get more exposure. But major music artists, as well as labels, can successfully utilize SoundCloud to their benefit.
SoundCloud is notorious for bringing rappers fame. But what about other genres? House and electronic genres can achieve a certain amount of success. But SoundCloud’s audience is — most certainly — quite limited when it comes to its universal influence.
PledgeMusic is a crowdfunding website specifically for musicians. However, they recently filed for bankruptcy (or administration, as it’s called in the U.K.). The platform was close to selling their business. Unfortunately, all efforts to sell the business fell through, however. In addition, the company started holding the money that was intended for artists. Music artists were unable to deliver merchandise, music, and other goods to fans. This resulted in lost trust for both musicians and their fans.
Music platforms for Artists: weighing the Pros and Cons
There are many music platforms for artists. But which one should you use? Weigh out these pros and cons and use the one(s) that will benefit you and your music and specific characteristics and career objectives.