Let me ask you something: if an artist is relatively unknown during his life period and have sold almost no paintings, would you consider him as a successful one? Probably no, right? On the other hand, do you think that Van Gogh was an outstanding artist and even genius? I think that the answer to this question is positive. However, as many of you already know, Van Gogh was a painter that would be considered as a very unsuccessful one by the objective norms, such as money earned or the number of people that was familiar with his work. Despite these circumstances, he has become one of the most respected and recognisable painters of all time. Although this is an example from the domain of painting, it can easily be applied to all of the others forms of arts, including music.
It is very hard to measure one’s success when it comes to a domain of art. This is because the art is highly subjective, as the evaluation of an artwork is different from person to person - “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” many would say. For example, in sports things are very clear - the fastest athlete, or the one that can jump the highest, is the best one, and that is it; there is no room for any discussion and different points of view. Besides this, the runner can measure his time and thus have an insight into his current physical fitness and condition. Unfortunately, an artist can’t get this kind of objective feedback so that he would know if he is getting better or not.
Due to this inability to ensure more objective performance indicators, the musicians are forced to use a different kind of feedback, and that is the evaluation of others, i.e., the people who listen to their music. Many musicians are not very satisfied with this criterion because they think that the quality of their work shouldn’t be under the influence of someone else’s musical preferences and taste. However, these musicians should ask themselves: for whom do they compose their music? Of course, the answer is: for their audience. This is why the opinion and evaluation of their listeners should be highly respected and considered.
“Ok, but where can I find this kind of feedback?” one may ask. The answer to this question is the topic of the text that follows. There are websites that are profiled for providing this kind of information to all of the artists, but also to other visitors, and that can be very useful for the musicians in order to gain an insight into their current status.
So, let’s check out these websites.
Last.fm is a great music website that has many advantages and provides excellent opportunities to its users. This is the website that has popularised the term “scrobbling”. It is referred to the process of recording one’s track listening and then using this information in order to provide his musical preference, listening habits, and also to provide recommendations of other similar artists.
Of course, musicians can use some of these pieces of information in order to have an insight in their popularity and status on this website.
This is another website that can be very useful to all of artists and bands. ReverbNation main purpose is to measure one’s popularity by taking into account different indicators. One of them is the reach or the number of people that can be reached by the musician. This is very important information as it can tell the artist what is his sphere of influence so that he could perceive other indicators in a more objective and realistic way. For example, your tracks have listened one thousand times last month. The absolute number is not very useful by itself, as it is not the same if your field of reach is 2000 people or 10000. In the first case, the 50% of people have listened to your songs and in the second one only 10%, although the number of actual visits is the same.
The other important indicator is the influence. It is defined as the registration of the reactions of those users that have access to your music profile. It measures the number of listened songs, total time spent on these activities, etc…
The third indicator is access, or the artist potential to contact his online audience directly. You can contact some of your fans directly only after they have joined your mailing list. So, this way you can see how many people like your work and basically wants to stay in touch with you.
Recency is the final factor that is taken into account, and that measures the frequency of all the mentioned factors.
The great thing about this website is the fact that it puts every artist into his reference group. It means that, for example, a speed metal band will be compared to other similar bands, and not to bossa nova artists. This is a very good and “fair” solution, as some music genres are simply more popular than others. This way artist will gain more objective and realistic insight into their popularity.
BBC’s Sound Index
The advantage and uniqueness of this website are that it takes into account pieces of information collected from different music websites, such as Bebo, mentioned Last.fm, Myspace, YouTube, iTunes, etc… It gathers all of this data and measures the popularity of the top 1000 artists. Of course, this is reserved for the best musicians and bands in the world, so you shouldn’t expect to be on this list just a few weeks after you have attached your fists YouTube video.
This website is so popular that it has become the first association to music for the majority of people. Besides the fact that the YouTube is one of the most popular websites in general, it has others advantages over other similar websites.
First of all, it can be used by literary anyone, as it is very simple to attach a music video or a song. There is also a possibility to attach a list of songs (for example the entire album) so that after one song is the next one on the list will automatically start playing.
Probably the most important advantage of this website is the fact that it can ensure different kinds of feedback. First of all, the artist can see how many times his video have been viewed. Of course, this depends on many factors, mostly from the number of times that the video has been shared on social networks. It should be mentioned that the most viewed videos will appear on the top of the search list - “the success leads to a greater success”. Having this in mind, it is obvious that you should invest all of your time and energy in order to receive as many views as possible, especially in the beginning.
However, because of the fact that the number of views is connected to the number of shares, you can’t be sure if these people that have seen your video actually liked it. This is why there is a like and dislike option so that anyone can see whether a particular video has been viewed so many time because it is a high-quality one, or just because it is so bad that it is interesting to watch. For example, Rebecca’s Friday has more than 100 millions views, and Radiohead’s No Surprises have fewer than 50 million. This might sound surprising, but ones you see the number on likes and dislikes, things become clearer.
Besides this, there is also an option to leave the comments below the video. This is probably the most important kind of feedback for the majority of musicians, as this way they can receive direct evaluations from their listeners about their work. Ones the comments have been posted, an artist can answer on each one and thus can start the discussion on the particular topic and gain more valuable pieces of information. Of course, this website is not flaws-free. The main problem is the hyper-productivity of videos. Whatever music genre you are into, when you post your song you can be sure that there are probably thousands of similar videos. This is why it is very hard to get noticed and get in touch with the audience.
These are some websites that artists can use in order to ensure different kinds of feedback and to gain insight into their online popularity. Of course, you should remember that these pieces of information shouldn’t be interpreted as a direct result of the quality of your songs. As we have seen, sometimes the popularity can be the product of other factors, activities, and characteristics, and doesn’t necessary go with the high-quality songs and talented musicians.
Just remember to keep chasing your dreams. Try to achieve them by practising, creating, and recording. Give your best and enjoy doing it, and the success will eventually come.