While live music provides the sensible stimulation all music-lovers seek, musicians and fans also rely on the excitement through the wire. In particular, streaming music via the internet has become secondary to the discovery of new music as well as easy access to old-time favorites. The music industry is a constantly evolving entity that moves along with the rapid changes of technology. It’s 2012 and while technology has helped the deceased with their musical careers in the form of holograms, it has also become a resourceful tool for sharing music and uncovering those voices that have yet to be heard.
In the midst of all the savvy technology buzzing around is Earbits, an online radio source to connect artists with the fan base, the fans with new bands, and bands with record labels and promoters.
I had the pleasure of talking with CEO and co-founder, Joey Flores, who revealed the details about Earbits and the boundless possibilities it offers listeners, artists, and industry folk alike. Yet, the most important thing Earbits is responsible for is giving bands and artists a chance to share and building their music in the most efficient and honest way…
What does Earbits offer both users and bands that’s different than existing Internet & mobile radio networks?
Joey: Earbits solves two key problems in a changing music industry: 1) It offers consumers high-quality radio without ads that is backed by a viable business model. 2) Artists can promote their music to thousands of listeners and directly connect with fans to drive new social media interest, concert and CD sales. Earbits is a very different experience for both users and bands [as] we’re trying to introduce people to great music that they might not know yet and bring the audience and the artists closer together. By focusing on bands and making them our clients, listeners get no commercials, no skipping restrictions, great social tools, and the ability to connect with the artists they hear on a much more intimate level. Bands get new fans and mailing list subscribers, the ability to promote new releases and live shows, and a lot more.
Could you explain how listeners could use Earbits to their full advantage on a daily basis?
Joey: You can enjoy Earbits plenty by just turning on any one of our 200 channels in every genre and not being interrupted by commercials. At the end of the day, Earbits is about discovering new music and connecting with the artists you find. If you want to get the most out of it you’ll bookmark the bands you like, become their fan on Facebook, find out if they’re playing near you, and share the links to their music with your friends. You can tweet about them using our easy tools and a lot of times they’ll tweet back and let you know they appreciate your support. Some of our bands even let you download albums for free. From our weekly newsletter to the new features we are introducing, Earbits is all about bringing you closer to the music as easily as possible.
How would up-and-coming musicians, bands, and producers benefit from Earbits in terms of catching the attention of record labels and landing a tour platform for sponsors?
Joey: Being on Earbits means that your music is of extremely high quality, which makes it a great place for labels, booking agents and brands to find talent to work with. As an example, we’ve started doing things like vetting artists for labels. Earbits now reviews all bands who want to be signed by Spectra Records. If a band is approved, they’re asked to do a bit of self-promotion to prove that people like their music and we track their stats internally. Those that achieve a certain level of performance are forwarded to Spectra for consideration. As a result, three of our artists are already in contract review to be signed by the label. We’ve also leveraged our connections with music licensing professionals. In the long run we see being able to not only locate talent, but validate that consumers really love their music. After we put the right bands in front of the right industry professionals, we can then help those professionals market the artists using valuable data and our consumer audience. And with geo-targeting capabilities and international licenses, promoting tours is going to be one of the easiest opportunities in that vision.
Please share a little bit about yourself as CEO, your business background, and how you started Earbits with its initial vision as a music brand?
Joey: I’ve been in the online advertising business for about 13 years. After sales and media buying positions at two dot bombs, I became Director of Business Development at Affiliate Fuel. I met my co-founder, Yotam Rosenbaum [and] we decided to form a band and record an album…he told me he was concerned about how we would market [an] album. We tried fliers, hung posters in clubs, gave away CDs at shops and in front of other bands’ shows. We bought ads on Google, Facebook and on Ripple TV. We hired a publicist and literally tried as many things as we could, usually failing to get results that got more people to a show, or sold more CDs. Nothing worked… we were going to fix our band’s marketing problem. Yotam asked how we could translate the advertising platforms that I used during the day, that were successful for other small businesses, into something that would work for music. We realized that personalized online radio services like Pandora are really just search engines for music. You tell the site what kind of music you’re looking for and it recommends certain results. We saw pretty quickly that fixing the problem of artist promotion was also going to create a much more valuable and sustainable streaming radio business model. We were ecstatic about building a pay-per-listen ad platform for music in the form of a radio service…we would just do everything that Google Adwords does, except we would do it in audio. I’m proud of the vision that we founded the company on and even more proud that we’ve stayed true to that vision. We wanted to create a platform that put all of the marketing responsibilities on us. And we said we wouldn’t charge bands until we knew undoubtedly that we were producing real value for them. The day that we felt like that was happening, we still put off charging bands for as long as we could while we made our service even better.
What were some negatives of the music industry that you saw needed fixing and that Earbits offers as a solution?
Joey: The music industry shouldn’t be about who you know. It should be about how good your product is. [It] is really unfortunate that all of the tools bands use these days, all of the social media platforms and services, basically reward the bands who make the most noise about themselves. Tweet this, share that, post everywhere, spam users on this new service, and so on. It means that the bands who spend 1 hour a day on music and 5 hours online talking about it are the ones that everybody is hearing about. The bands who spend countless hours working on music and 20 minutes a week uploading their material are drowning in a sea of noise. We’ve set out to change [this] trend by making a platform that will play any good music that is submitted to us, not based on our taste but on its quality, and by refining the platform to reward people whose music gets the best response from our audience. It won’t be about who works the system and makes the most noise. The band who uploads the best album, the best merchandise and has the most shows on their calendar is going to get the most out of being on Earbits, and ultimately they’ll invest more in being played more often.
What is your relationship with the music industry such as with record labels, marketing and promotions, producers, even artists themselves? How do you work together?
Joey: We work with about 260 record labels and thousands of artists. Sometimes we work with a band’s manager or marketing team, but our platform is very hands-off, so once your music is on the platform there isn’t a whole lot that you need to coordinate with our team. We do send out special opportunities to our labels and bands, like the Spectra and BET opportunities, and then we work closely with them to connect the right people with these opportunities. It’s these relationships that make Earbits poised to be an artist development platform, more than other services. Most other streaming services don’t actually have relationships with the artists and labels they’re playing. They just license the music from a large catalog provider. A movie music supervisor that found something on Earbits they liked could email our team and we’d have them talking with the band or their label by the next afternoon.
What can readers & audience members expect from Earbits‘ upward success in the next year or so?
Joey: Our team is securing more labels and bands every day, and our catalog has more than doubled in the past year. Users can expect to see more and more tools that let them engage with our bands, and a lot more relevant and personalized communication that helps them find the content they want and remember who they discovered on Earbits. We also hope to get back into promoting our Earbits Presents concerts. The approach to these shows run completely the opposite of most club shows. Most Los Angeles clubs book any band that commits to a certain number of ticket sales and then leave all of the promotion to the bands. Our editorial team made a list of the best Los Angeles bands we work with, regardless of the size of their fan base. We listened to every band on the list and rated them 1-5. We began calling the artists to see who would play the show. We ended up with three phenomenal bands that committed to playing the show for free so that we could donate the proceeds to the Fender Music Foundation. Then we promoted the show solely using Earbits and our own local connections, and we had a packed house, nearly sold out. Our entire music staff was on hand that night to help with the show and audio. Basically, the bands didn’t lift a finger and were able to focus on the music. We think that’s how great shows ought to be done, and we want to do a couple more Earbits Presents concerts this year. It’s just one more way that we’re working hard to bring our artists and our audience closer together.
With so many social media tools available to artists these days it can be difficult to know which ones are truly effective and exactly how to use them in the best ways possible. Earbits is the solution. It’s an innovative and easily accessible tool that encourages the sharing of music from every angle in a easy-come-easy-go manner. So whether you are a fan, artist, or promoter equal availability of the same music lies at your fingertips. With that said, it’s safe to say that Joey Flores and the Earbits team would indefinitely agree that music makes the world go ’round.
Check out Earbits right now! And follow them on Twitter where you can find contact and such necessary inquiries.