Author Archives: admin

What makes a song a hit?

I have noticed that when we listen to a hit song, it does not immediately grow on us. Only when we listen to it multiple times, it slowly starts to sound great. I think listening to the song over and over again is how we start to like a song. Also, when a new song is released by an artist we love, we are already biased and are more embracing of the song. So, it’s not that hit songs become hits right off the gate but there needs to be repetition and a lot of social hype around them to make them popular.

I feel there are thousands of good songs our there that never get a chance because people listen to them once and forget about them. For example, listen to this song a few times and see how your opinion will change: Good Poison by Lionchief

‘Random Review’ algorithm change

We have noticed that some users are doing a lot more song reviewing than others. So, we have changed the algorithm a bit such that users who have written a lot of helpful reviews are given more priority during the “Random Review” song selection. Start reviewing more songs so that your own songs will get reviewed more!

Quick Update

We have added many new users recently. Welcome to the site. The site is still in its early stages, so thanks for your patience. Just wanted to give a quick update to all of you.

  1. You can upload multiple songs but only 1 of them (the Primary Song) will be selected for Random Review. This will give each user an equal chance for their music to be heard. You can change the Primary Song anytime by logging in and going to the “My Songs” page. There should be a “check mark” button next to each song. Just click on that button to designate the song as Primary Song.
  2. You can browse reviews now and you can upvote/downvote reviews based on how helpful they are. You must be logged in to be able to do that.
  3. We implemented a new algorithm to sort the songs based on their scores. We will improve the algorithm as we go along. It’s important to not focus on the ranking too much and take it literally. They are just implemented for fun.
  4. You can now add your YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter and Facebook profile URLs. Login and go to “Home” and add the URLs at the bottom of the page. This should help us better connect with each other.

Wanted to ask all of you if you would like to have the choice to review any song instead of just through the Blind Review system?

Reverbnation partners with SoundOut

A few weeks ago, I came across SoundOut. It’s a website where independent musicians can upload their songs and get feedback on their music from anonymous users. It’s similar to what we are doing. But SoundOut is a paid service and charges outrageous amount of money for song reviews. It charges $45/song for 125 reviews and $195/song for 250 reviews. Holy crap. These guys are big time crooks. The reviews are blind and they come from users who are paid about $0.05 per review. So basically SoundOut is paying the reviewers 125 x $0.05 = $6.25/song and taking $125 per song from the musicians. I will let you do the math. And I don’t thing making approximately $0.05 per review should be the incentive to provide great feedback on songs. This is crowd sourcing gone awfully wrong. And on top of that, Reverbnation is partnering with SoundOut to provide paid reviews to its users in a new service called “Crowd Review“.

I don’t know what to say. This is a big ripoff and struggling artists who are already broke are paying large amount of cash to get feedback on their music.

NEW features being added

We are growing very slowly :-0) but we are excited. We wanted to let you know of some of the features we have added to the site to make song reviewing and critiquing more fun.

First and foremost, users are now able to upvote/downvote ratings. If the song review is descriptive and provides value, users can upvote those ratings. The person who did the rating will gain points and build up their ‘reputation’. And if the review is of low quality, users can downvote those ratings. And the rater will lose ‘reputation’. This concept is very similar to stackoverflow and we think it would be fun to implement the same idea for song reviewing.

A user can build reputation either by uploading songs that are highly rated by others or by writing really good reviews and accumulating points. With high reputation, a user will be able to gain privileges in the site. For example, each vote of a user with high reputation will have a ‘heavier’ vote when they rate others. Thus, they will be able to influence the ratings of a song much more compared to an ordinary user. We are still figuring out other privileges we could provide to those users. Any feedback is appreciated 🙂

There are a few rules we have put in place for upvoting/downvoting.

1. A user cannot downvote a rating of their own song.

If someone writes a review of my song that points out the flaws in the song, I might not like it and downvote that rating. That is not what we want. Therefore, we are not allowing the song owner to downvote any of the ratings however unpleasant they are. Only other users are able to downvote such ratings. The song owner can however upvote the rating to motivate the rater to write good reviews.

2. A user cannot upvote/downvote a rating that has no comment in it.

SInce a rating can only have score and does not need to have a comment, users can only upvote/downvote a rating that has a comment in it.

3. You cannot upvote/downvote your own rating.

This one is pretty common sense. If you are the one who did the rating, you cannot upvote/downvote your own rating.

 

Some other features we have implemented:

  • Song play history. Even anonymous plays are tracked based on IP address location.
  • Points accumulated are display on the user’s profile page.
  • FAQ page has been updated.
  • Users can comment on each rating. Prior to that, you could only write comments on the song page or the profile page.

Coming Soon:

  • Song rating preference. You can select multiple genres and countries to choose the songs from while rating.
  • Email alert preference. You will be able to control what kind of email alerts you would like to receive so that we don’t fill up your inbox.
  • Privileges on the site based on your reputation.

 

Please keep checking out the site regularly. We hope to make this site a fun place for musicians who are looking to get feedback on their music and we hope you will make friends along the way.

Today’s music is crap

I am appalled by today’s music scene. “I don’t care, I love it!”. I have heard this song so many times lately and I even looked up the lyrics. It makes no sense. The tune is kind of catchy but at its core, it’s empty and shallow. Just like that song “I know it’s crazy but here’s my number. Call me maybe”. And the same tune is repeated over and over. I think this song is going to last a few months and in these few months, the artists will have become millionaires, sold a few million records and the song will eventually fade into oblivion. As a listener, I got entertained for a few days but it did not really “touch my soul” with its music or lyrics. And these are the artists that are getting insanely rewarded today. On the other hand, there are many artists out there who have been playing gigs for the last five or six years and still struggling to make ends meet. Many of these struggling artists are creating good music but no one is paying any attention. It looks like either the market for good music is diminishing or it’s getting extremely hard for these struggling artists to be successful because all the crappy music is dominating radio and television.

I have also been noticing lately that many of today’s songs are targeting young people and talking about partying and just having fun. All of them are molded into dance music to make it more salable. I guess dance music is selling right now. It’s ok to make this kind of music but it should not be the dominating genre. Good music should make an impression on the listener that lasts a lifetime. It should evoke deep emotions and really “talk” to you. There are many good songs from the 70’s and 80’s that are still relevant today. They never get old because they talk about human suffering and emotions. They talk about the real stuff. They focused on their emotions instead of trying to make music that sells. Can you imagine Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon selling like hot cakes today? Not likely. It’s a great album because Pink Floyd did not care if it’s going to be liked by the masses or if it actually makes tons of money. Maybe they did care about the money part a little bit, but they still stayed true to their inner feelings and emotions. It’s a depressing album, but still a masterpiece, and I can’t imagine today’s generation falling in love with it if they heard it on the radio, if it even made it to the radio in the first place.

So, what does it all mean? I feel sorry for today’s young generation. They are being fed high fructose corn syrup by the media companies. Please turn off your radio and TV. Don’t let them mold your mind. It’s more profitable to them that way. It’s like watching PBS documentaries versus some reality show on television. The reality show will provide you short term entertainment but watching PBS will broaden your horizon and give you new perspective.

How to Critique a Song

I have always wondered if song critiquing actually provides any value to the musician to improve their music. I have come to a conclusion that they work if they are done right. There are several scenarios where I feel it does not add any value at all. I used to critique songs in garageband.com back in the days and I never liked how reviews were done in that site.

I would like to go over some of the scenarios that I feel should be avoided while critiquing a song:

1. Reviewer is not a musician.

If the reviewer is not a musician and they have not created any music themselves, they are not in a position to review a song. They might be able to rate the song 4/5 but they might not know enough about songwriting and recording techniques to really give advice. Therefore, these people should not be forced to write “reviews” on the song. Writing reviews should be optional.

2. Reviews are written lazily.

If it’s mandatory to write at least a couple of sentences for each song, the reviewer is forced to write a review even though they don’t really like the song. And the reviewer will lazily write up a review. For this kind of scenario, writing a review should be optional. Usually, if a song grabs your attention, then you naturally want to write at least a couple of sentences on the song.

3. Taste in music is very subjective.

Everybody has a different taste in music. So, there is a chance that you will get a wide variety of reviews on your song. There will be both positive and negative criticism. In this kind of situation, which reviews should you use to improve your music? I think that even though the reviews will vary greatly, there will at least be a few positive criticisms that you can use to make your music better. And you should not take every negative criticism to heart.

4. Some take more than they give back.

Many users create songs and they are anxious to find out what others have to say. So they upload their song and wait for others to rate them. And they never take the time to review others’ music. This is not very good for the community. So, if you are expecting to see detailed reviews on your song, you should start writing detailed reviews yourself.

5. Reviews are not blind.

When I critique a song, I like to only judge the sound I hear and not what I see. I don’t want to know anything about the artist because it will bias my review. I want to be able to close my eyes and write review based on how the music makes me feel inside. So, my critique should solely focus on the music itself and not the music video or the artist bio.

 

Great free tutorials to improve your recording and mixing

When I first started creating my own music back in 2005, I was pretty much clueless on how to properly record and mix my songs. I did not know about panning or equalization techniques and my songs sounded horrible. I used to post them on garageband.com for others to rate them and got some pretty nasty reviews. But I used the criticism to improve the quality of my recordings. Although, I have to admit I really got offended by some of those comments in the beginning.

Around that time, I found some great tutorials online that were invaluable to a home recording enthusiast like myself. http://tweakheadz.com/ was one of them. I think it was started back in late 90’s by a guy named Rich. It has all the techniques you need to create great sounding records. From tracking to mixing and mastering, you will learn a lot regarding what it takes to create professional sound. So, I encourage you all to check out that site.

Another website that has some comprehensive recording techniques is http://therecordingrevolution.com/ created by Graham Cochrane. It’s a newer site but has a lot of video clips showing how to fine tune your home recordings.

Although I have come a long way from those early days, I still have a long way to go and I am still learning new techniques. I hope you will find these tutorials very helpful.

 

The need for song reviews

I am an amateur musician myself. I compose and record songs on my computer from time to time and I like to get feedback on my songs from other musicians. These are mostly home recordings. You can checkout some of my songs in my profile page. There used to be a site called garageband.com which does not exist anymore. It was a great site to get valuable feedback from other musicians to improve my songwriting and song mixing skills. There are still many forums out there where musicians can upload their songs for others to review but forums are not scalable to thousands of users. What we need is a dedicated platform to get song critiques from musicians from all over the world.

I am hoping that other musicians like myself will be able to use http://www.tonearena.com to get valuable feedback and reviews from other musicians and I hope you will have fun while doing so. If you have suggestions on improving this site, please email me at tonearena@gmail.com.

What do you all think? How should music reviews be done?