I had the [fortunate] opportunity to receive insight into how ReverbNation’s charts work from the head tech in charge, CEO Jed Carlson.
I took a lot of notes…
Mr. Carlson reached out recently after an article I wrote about my personal experience(s) using ReverbNation over the past years.
The act of Jed contacting me, in and of itself, allows us to see that this company listens and is actively involved in the online community.
Kudos and respect!
Every day this team, which has grown from 3 to 80 over the years, works damn hard to provide musicians, managers, promoters, and venues with a unique platform.
First, we must understand that ReverbNation is a tech company working in the music space. Not necessarily a “music company”.
Second, we need to understand that ReverbNation develops products they believe will benefit artists. They release them knowing it might not be perfect, but with proper feedback, can be shaped and molded into something that provides great value.
Mr. Carlson said he knows they make mistakes, but I don’t see them as mistakes. This is trial and error on a large scale.
ReverbNation is blazing trails that have never been walked before and we (the artists) have the privilege of riding and shaping the wave as we surf through the online music marketing sphere.
Jed openly admits that their charts are not perfect. I was also able to learn how much time and effort their team puts into making the charts work the way they do.
They are [definitely] one of the hardest working teams in the online music marketing sphere and I want to share what I learned so we can appreciate the depth of what is happening with your Chart Rank.
So how do ReverbNation’s charts work?
This is not a look into the technical aspects of their algorithms so if you are looking for that, this is the wrong place.
Let me start with this…
How should the charts work? Should they be based on:
- Sales only? (which is impossible for RN to track, you think iTunes or Spotify will share sales data with them?)
- The number of followers you have on your social networks?
- The amount of engagement between you and your fans?
- The amount of shows you play and the attendance to each? (Yes Reverb can track this if you keep up with how many people come to your shows and enter the data in your profile.)
Before I can explain how RN’s charts work, you must first think about what exactly determines chart rank…
Since it is impossible for ReverbNation to track sales data, this one becomes null.
So what does RN do?
By allowing us to connect our RN profiles to our FB page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, and Myspace, the team is able to track the amount of followers you have across multiple networks as well as gauge the engagement on each (via plays, subscribers, etc).
ReverbNation aims to find a balance between following, engagement, and the other metrics they track including FanReach Pro e-mails, use of widgets, shows and attendance, as well as use of the custom mobile app they provide to bands.
You’re probably thinking…”so I could go buy 8,000 Twitter followers and catapult myself up the charts?”
Not exactly, but this is where ReverbNation’s work becomes very complicated, difficult, and ongoing.
You have probably seen sites selling followers, plays, likes, +1s, views, and subscribers.
In the dichotomy of good guys vs bad guys, these organizations are the bad guys while ReverbNation spends every day playing the good guy.
If you have 8,000 Twitter followers, 250 Facebook Likes, and only a few plays on your songs, ReverbNation smells the imbalance.
Over the past months they have started blocking accounts suspected of such behavior.
If you contact their support team and successfully explain how you achieved such a feat as 8,000 followers or 2,000 Likes overnight, then they will reactivate your account.
When they fix one thing to combat the situation, the bad guys come up with something new…so the cycle continues.
If you know anything about how the black hat game works, you know these guys are able to change, mask, and manipulate their IP addresses as well as other technologies to stay under the radar and work around obstacles in their way.
It does not help ReverbNation’s cause that social sites are not cracking down on black hat behavior more than they currently do.
If you have ever bought followers on Twitter you probably know that Twitter doesn’t seem to care… whereas Facebook will suspect something and take action against you for buying Likes.
We all know about the recent stripping of views from YouTube videos.
What do I do now?
The ReverbNation charts are not perfect. They know this.
Now that we understand a little more about how their charts operate, we can begin to appreciate the amount of work that goes into the platform.
ReverbNation is always listening. Always looking for feedback. And always looking for ways to make themselves better.
This is why they have managed to be so successful while standing on their own.
If you were looking for an in-depth article about the technology behind their charts, I apologize. Only RN knows this information and it needs to stay that way for our benefit.
The best way to increase your ReverbNation chart rank is to stay active, use the platform as part of your marketing strategy, and stay true to the organic nature of growing your fan base the only way that truly works…slow, steady, 1 venue, and 1 fan at a time.
Questions? Comments? Drop them below.
Have ideas about how ReverbNation can improve their charts? Leave a comment.
- ReverbNation works a lot harder than any of us want to give them credit for trying to make their charts reflect the real worth of the bands using the platform.
- Every day they live in a world of bad guys vs good guys where they must constantly combat the tactics and technologies of black hat strategist from all over the globe…not easy for a team of 80 in North Carolina, US of A. Cut ’em a little slack.
- By understanding that ReverbNation Chart Rank reflects a balance of your online activity, we can begin to understand and appreciate the work that goes into making the charts operate.