Submission fees had been a part of the music world way before I launched Sonicbids exactly 10 years ago on Friday (February 25, 2001) with the simple mission of helping every band get a gig.
My personal philosophy around them has been pretty simple:
1. Small submission fees act as an effective filter (we currently have 300,000 bands using the site);
2. Money generated provides funding that’s recycled back into the music community (i.e. All expenses Tour of Singapore; 10 bands to play Bonnaroo and get $1,000 each; and thousands other examples on the site)
That said, the fees often have had some undesired byproducts: they discouraged bands from taking risks and applying to more gigs on the site (on average, it takes 9-10 submissions to get a gig) – which meant fewer gigs booked; a whole lot of smaller promoters/venues did not even get one submission; and also many bands ended up submitting to just the “big” listings (say, SXSW or CMJ or Bumbershoot), ignored the rest, and inevitably went disappointed.
Starting last September, we beta tested the concept of removing fees for some of the listings on the site and some amazing things happened: band activity on the site tripled, we got many more smaller venues to join the site, and – much more importantly – over 14,000 new gigs got booked by these “no cost” listings. The only complaint we got? Too many submissions from bands that were not appropriate for the gig.
So starting today, with the sponsorship of Musician’s Friend, we are launching a new type of listing on the site that we call Token Listings. Each month, as a member of Sonicbids you’ll get 10 or 25 tokens (for Sonic and Supersonic members respectively), which you’ll be able to use to submit to these listings for no added fee.
As of right now 60% of all open listings on Sonicbids are Token Listings. Within 90 days, our goal is to make up to 90% of the listings on the site Token-based. So, your membership just got a whole lot better. (Check out the video below for my full audiovisual explanation of tokens.)
Your Tokens are on a use-it-or-lose it basis each month so do use them – just make sure that you use them for stuff that’s right/appropriate for your band and type of music.
Submission fees will not go entirely away: Premium listings like music conferences, high profile festivals, song contests etc. will carry a fee. However, all those listings will guarantee a minimum selection of Sonicbids bands and, in almost all cases, they guarantee to review your submission (Submission Tracker).
But, in the coming months you will see many more high profile venues like the Double Door in Chicago, Whisky a Go Go in LA, or The Knitting Factory in NYC who have already joined the site, open listings that you can apply to using your Tokens.
Many, many, many more cool things coming soon. Enjoy.
p.s. You may notice your Artist Account Homepage got a fancy facelift. You can read more about that here and catch a quick video on our new navigation.