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sxsw, Opportunities

Jul 9, 2013 11:12 AM

Panos Panay

7 Tips To Get You Noticed By SXSW

You want to play South-by-southwest, but how do you get selected?  Sonicbids has your back.  Since 2007, we’ve been the exclusive platform to apply to play South-by-southwest.  We’ve seen many bands launch the next level of their careers and become household names. Playing SXSW can put your band in front of some of the most influential people in this business.  Top Record execs and major brands are all looking for the perfect sound for their campaign or project.

What is Social Music Marketing?

Over the past few months, I have been asked more and more frequently to speak about social music marketing. I’ve had the pleasure of facilitating some really interesting (and fun) panels at a number of music industry events of late. Below is a video from a Canadian Music Week panel I moderated on the subject. There was a lively discussion around the topic that you might find valuable. Enjoy!


Panelists include:

Brennan Loh
Head of Business Development



Oct 6, 2011 02:40 PM

Panos Panay


Dear Steve,

We never met — which is an amazing thing for someone who has had such a profound impact on my life.

Here's to your passion, your vision, your desire for excellence, your creativity, your unrelenting energy, your desire to break the impossible and surpass the possible; here's to your light and to the long shadow that you have cast over all of us business people, artists, creators and entrepreneurs.

Here's to you, Steve Jobs. The last true American original.


Marketing & Promotion

May 26, 2011 05:18 AM

Panos Panay

Want feedback on your music? Check this out.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with members where I hear the same request – I want more feedback on my music. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to a folk singer, a rock band or a singer/songwriter. If I’m in the States, the Netherlands or the UK. It’s always the same message – I want more feedback so I can improve, do better, and know where I stand.

Last week, we launched a partnership with SoundOut to help with that.

SoundOut is the market’s leading research and audience insight tool for new music. Their community of more than 140,000 music fans and consumers review new music and provide feedback. SoundOut puts all of this feedback together in a handy (and quite extensive) PDF report. This includes info on a song’s market potential, overall track rating, like rating by age group and gender and passion rating,  indicating the intensity in which reviewers liked the song.

OK. Now let’s get to the part about why you should care. Our beta launch with SoundOut means that a random sampling of Sonicbids members will be prompted to select a track to be reviewed by SoundOut for free - that’s a $25 – free as part of your Sonicbids membership.

Here’s how you know if you’ve been tagged. If you log into your account and see a modal prompting you to upload your track, well, tag, you’re it. Upload your song and it will get sent to SoundOut. They’ll review your song and provide a comprehensive report within 7 days. The report not only gives you great feedback from real music fans, but it also helps you identify your target audience so you can better market to your fans and discover new fans (who knew that 15 year old males loved your music?).

Don’t forget, we’re in beta mode, so expect to hear more about this in the months ahead.

In the meantime, if you do send your song in for review, let us know what you think here on my blog.


Apr 7, 2011 11:15 PM

Panos Panay

In Response to DMN Article On Gig Maven

Digital Music News recently published an article about GigMaven and festival submissions ("Should Artists Pay for Festival Submissions? GigMaven Says No Way..."). Below is my response.

This is Panos, founder of Sonicbids. I've been following the comments and I think much of what I have to say has already been captured in comments made by Dave Cool and others.

In many ways this whole subject is moot, as right now 65% of all gigs on Sonicbids carry no submission fees. By June, this number will be 90%. But, I will also say that we are keeping some premium listings fee based, because I’ve seen these fees work and create opportunities for emerging music that without them would have never been possible. If you care, read further. If you’re fixed in your opinion, then don’t waste your time reading my rather long-winded response.

We at Sonicbids did not invent submission fees. They existed long before I launched the company 10 years ago. Do I feel that it's worth it for an artist to pay $25 or whatever to be considered for SXSW or CMJ? Of course I do. And as an unabashed believer in free market dynamics, I will tell you that if it was not worth it, then countless managers and agents and artists would not be applying to perform at these conferences every year -- and benefitting from showcasing at them for over 25 years now. Is emerging music better off because SXSW, CMJ and other similar festivals exist? You bet. Could they take place if they did not charge these fees? I doubt it.

As far as other non-conference promoters that charge fees, when a band is still developing and young and untried, nearly all the financial risk lies with the promoter that books them as in many cases there is no guarantee that they will recoup their cost of the evening/event from the crowds that a young, emerging band will bring. I would go further and say that in most cases, these bookings are almost always at a loss as most events sell tickets not based on the emerging bands they book but by booking the same old, same old headliners. It’s changing but we’re not there yet.

Historically, this unknown has made many promoters risk averse – or even downright hostile -- to booking new music (join in on any of the calls that we have every day to festivals around the planet if you want to get a flavor of the objections to indie music). Why take a risk on a new artist when one represented by a label or an agent comes with a known draw that at least covers some or most of their costs?  (By the way, keep in mind that most clubs and most festivals are labors of love and largely unprofitable. I personally don’t know many promoters that live the good life.)

Small submission fees, earned by promoters, take some of that risk-aversion away. And many times WE will assume all the risk (Sonicbids) by sponsoring events and guaranteeing them revenue – often at a huge loss. Last year, we spent over $3 million to create these opportunities out there. And yes, it takes THAT much money to change the attitudes of people towards booking emerging music. And you know what? It’s working. We are on a track to double the amount of gigs that are getting booked on Sonicbids from 80,000 to 160,000 this year.

I wish I could tell you that the 30,000 people going to Bonnaroo in June are going there to see the 10 bands that are getting booked using Sonicbids but that’s not the case. But, we insisted that the bands get paid $1,000 each, we are giving ALL fees to charity (designated by the Bonnaroo guys) and we are paying to sponsor the event as well. All in the name of promoting emerging music.

I am not going to go on and on about these fees (as I mentioned, we are moving to having over 90% of the gig listings to be non-fee based). I will tell you that they have enabled investments and created opportunities ranging from tours, to festival gigs, to channels on airlines, and slots in TV shows, all of which showcase new music, and would not have been there without them.

Lastly, if you don’t like paying submission fees to conferences and festivals, there are other avenues out there. But arguably, all require an investment one way or another. If you want to build any business, be it a music career or a company you have to be willing to take risks and invest money and time and energy. I'm not going to lead you on to believe that there's any other way.

Trust me, I know first hand. I started Sonicbids by raking up $30,000 in credit card debt that took me 4 years to pay off and $50,000 of my personal savings, which was all the money I had in the bank (and nearly completely depleted). No one ever guaranteed me that all the energy and money that I would be investing would ever amount to anything. And unlike most online businesses, I did not start with a nice cool $1 million in VC money or whatever. I took a huge personal risk because of my belief and love and passion for emerging music.

I’m glad it did it.  Because nearly 350,000 gigs that have been booked since I started this site almost exactly 10 years ago and we think we’ll add another 160,000 this year.

Rock on.