UPDATE: The earbits people corrected me on some of my statistics below. They have 200+ labels and 50,000 songs (not 100 labels and 20,000 songs as I indicated below…Thanks for the info @earbits!).
Earlier this year I came across a few new music services. Turntable.FM, Rdio and Earbits. Rdio is ok but needs a bigger catalog. Turntable is cute and at its peak earlier this year was a great place for music discovery. I found some new music from Mute Math, a couple bands I had never heard of (*yet) like Phantogram, Washed out and Crystal Stilts on Turntable but lately they’ve gone soft on the user-front. The one that I use on and off that may be the richest of all new music discovery solutions is earbits.com.
Out of the Y-combinator VC program Earbits has raised between $500k and $1m depending on what source you read. They’re a commercial free music-radio-station and marketing platform. They were also a part of the initial Facebook music integration so they’ve made some serious strides in the last two years from kicking off back in 2009.
Its pretty easy to get your music up there if you’re new artist that controls his or her own masters and publishing. You submit your music to them and it goes through an approval process. From what I’ve learned, about the selection process, its a combination of music quality (ie. how well its recorded) and musicianship that goes into the decision to add your music to their catalog. They aren’t eager to dismiss anyone as almost anything that falls into the “gray” area usually gets accepted. They are here for the music. The company chiefs are musicians themselves and have the “musician” in mind. All they ask from the bands are a high quality photo, a bio and the music. They take care of the rest.
The interface is clean and easy to use. They require you to sign-up through facebook so they know you’re real and also have iOS and Android applications. They’ve pretty much thought of it all. Once you’re logged in you can browse around by genre to listen to music and favorite tracks or dismiss them and move on without limitations. Once you click your favorite genre a song starts playing immediately. The page you’re on is has a player at the top, a picture of the band/artist in the middle, your facebook friends in a row (above the fold, for sharing) and further information about the band/artist that you can scroll down to see (a bio, more pics, more tunes for preview and concert dates.) You can skip a bunch of songs in a row until you favorite something or just let it play without having “liked” or “disliked” anything. Tracks that you liked can than be shared via twitter or facebook and will also be placed in your account for future.
They don’t “charge” the artists for playing the music and conversely they don’t pay them for plays either. What they intend on using the platform for in the future is to charge bands for “local” plays. Say your Indie-Genred’ band has a show coming up in Los Angeles in 3 weeks. They will play your bands songs to the Los Angeles Indie crowd user-base for a few pennies per track. On your profile picture a promotion to your show with links to buy tickets will appear. Seems like a smart way to integrate conversions.
What’s unique about earbits is that most of the music is from unsigned bands. Where I might click skip on Pandora, until I hit my cap, because I’ve heard the same Muse song 45x already, earbits lets you skip, like or hate as much music as you want to consume. They’re library is about 20k songs deep and over 100 independent labels, at the time of this writing, and is expanding everyday with tracks from all different genres and music from all over the world. You won’t find Michael Jackson, Muse or Jennifer Lopez in their catalog but thats not the point of Earbits. They have more products coming out in the future including a cloud solution. They’re a great team of people and with a simple interface, great music and facebook integration Earbits looks to be around for the long-haul.
If you control both sides of your music you have every reason to get your music up on Earbits.com. Check it out!