ReverbNation’s Spread and Track philosophy

I wrote recently about a couple of Street Team websites that help bands identify, coordinate, manage, and reward hardcore fans for getting the word out about them. ReverbNation plans to launch Street Team capabilities this summer and their CMO, Jed Carlson, gave me a sneak preview. In the process he also let me see a lot of the ‘under the hood’ mechanics of what they offer bands, and gave me a short course in the ReverbNation philosophy. I’ve been covering ReverbNation since their beta and had the general sense that they were good guys. Now I’m sure they are.

To understand their motivation for Street Teams it helps to understand their general philosophy. Today I’ll talk about that. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how they see fans, their model of street teams, and their business model.

I had thought of the site as fan focused, but I was wrong. They like fans, they’re all for fans, but they are all about the bands. They’re only going to develop things for the fans if they clearly help the bands. As Carlson put it, they are “artist-centric.”

What I find particularly savvy about their approach is that their mission is not to have a “moat” like MySpace, but to be a one-stop-spot where musicians can build resources that they can then export all over the internet. ReverbNation is mean to be the “home base” from which bands can “spread their seed” all over the internet [better virtual seed than a trail of pregnant fans, I guess?].

Rather than competing with MySpace, Virb, and other sites, then, ReverbNation is aiming to provide resources and that artists can use when they create a presence on those sites. They only expect a small percentage of ReverbNation activity to happen at their own domain.

The twist is that when this seed is spread, through embedded media players, images, messages, whatever, it contacts home and ReverbNation can provide bands with statistics about what went where, what got hit by how many individuals, and more. They also collect some stats about fans with accounts on the site, so that a band can see statistics such as the age and sex distribution of their fans. I asked whether their site might be a skewed sample, and was assured that it may not be random, but that if a band has an older audience on the site, they were going to have older crowds at their shows. Conversely, if a band can see that they’re drawing young people, they can work to have their shows all-ages.

I asked how they are doing. When I first checked in, they didn’t seem to have very many bands and even fewer with known names. Carlson says they are coming up on 9,000 artists, their growth is doubling monthly, and that they now have 17 of the top 40 indie artists on the site. Pretty impressive.

Tomorrow… their view of fans, street teams, and business models.

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