Online music services are gaining popularity, and they can be the gateway to millions of listeners. But indie bands may have trouble breaking into Pandora channels, Turntable.fm rooms, and Spotify playlists.
Chicago startup SoundOff.fm wants indie bands to be heard. According to its founders, “SoundOff.fm was started to give indie artists a real chance at exposure, regardless of whether their demo was made in a garage or a multi-million-dollar studio.”
As we explained before the site’s late-September launch, SoundOff.fm users make blind votes between two 20-second clips of music, which musicians have uploaded. By voting, they earn credits to download music or buy fan gear. Credits can also be bought. After just a few votes, I was enjoying the game-like experience of choosing winners (none of which I had heard of), but I was sorry to find only a few clips to compare in the jazz genre.
Cofounder Dan Arwady, a musician himself, sees this as a more active experience than on other music sites. But that might be good or bad: it means users have to devote their full attention to SoundOff.fm, not just turn it on during the workday.
Whether SoundOff.fm is a boon to indie artists depends on the algorithm that calls up pairs of clips – which, unsurprisingly, they aren’t giving away. Arwady did tell me that the algorithm helps showcase new, up-and-coming songs, partly by identifying listeners with “good ears” who can earn bronze, silver, or gold status. Clips are removed from the site if they lose enough votes, and artists can resubmit new clips.
SoundOff.fm hopes to promote indie bands more directly by music reviews on their blog, like a recent one of Mariami. Artists can also spend credits to feature their tracks, profiles, and upcoming gigs on SoundOff.fm – although the ability to buy credits means that richer artists could get more exposure.
To see for yourself, play around on Soundoff.fm and visit their booth at our Tech Cocktail Chicago mixer tonight.