An Open Letter to Musicians: Lemme Hear It!
Since I really like to focus on small label and self-produced jazz, I typically do pretty well finding music on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. Up and coming jazz musicians have grown up in a cyber world and are hip to the benefits of the internet. And a big benefit of putting music up on sites like Bandcamp or SoundCloud (or others I'm about to discuss momentarily) is that even if a musician doesn't have the time and/or knowledge to create their own site, third-party sites like Bandcamp and SoundCloud give the artist a meaty skeleton on which to establish themselves and build up from. I've lost track of the times I've seen a post on a music forum or Twitter that linked to a SoundCloud or Bandcamp page, which I then followed, listened to, and then purchased the music or, at least, spread the word about it. But more on that later.
Okay, so back to the search. If I strike out on the artist site and Bandcamp and SoundCloud, I start searching for secondary sites like All About Jazz and ReverbNation and YouTube and Facebook... sites where I've seen instances of full-streaming by artists but have had mixed results so as not to make the sites fall within the first avenues to explore. We at All About Jazz now offer a service that allows artists to stream their music from several pages, and of course there's the thousands of free tracks available here to download. ReverbNation is very similar to Myspace. You know what YouTube is, as well as Facebook. I don't know how long this particular Facebook functionality has existed, but I've noticed that Facebook has a "Band Page" tab, which some musicians use to stream their music on. That's a good thing.
However, if I strike out on those options, too, then I go to a label site (if applicable). Most labels don't stream in full. Some will stream a couple songs, some do just samples, though some, like Palmetto Records and RareNoise and Savoy, stream in full (god bless ya!). And, ironically (and smartly), some labels like Anzic Records and Sunnyside Records actually have created Bandcamp pages where they stream and sell their music (god bless ya, too!). If I was able to hear your album in full on your label site when I couldn't hear it on your own (if you even have a site), then your label has already done right by you.
If I've struck out on all those other options and Googling your name hasn't brought up some oddball result like you're streaming your entire album on archive.org or ubuweb, then I have one last place I check before scratching your name off the list... Myspace. However, the only reason I visit Myspace is, one, to see if you have an artist site address that my Google search didn't return (which happens occasionally, oddly enough) or maybe find a musician name or other search term to feed into Google (which also has brought results in the case of an ensemble name being no-go on the search because everything was linked to a specific musician's name from the ensemble). I do not listen to Myspace tracks anymore. Aside from getting hit with a nasty virus from a Myspace page and nearly getting hit with two others, I now get error messages when trying to play Myspace tracks or, sometimes, it plays a sponsored track instead of what I wanted. I'm done with that site, other than for a scan for information.
If, at this point, I've got nothing on you and couldn't hear your music, then I cross you off the list. I've already spent considerable time investigating your music, and if after all that time I couldn't even hear what you have to offer, then forget it, I'm moving on.
If I was able to hear your music and didn't care for it, well, I addressed that above. But it's worth mentioning again... your music will get revisited, both current and future albums. Musicians who let me stream an album in full may not get a sale from me, but they do earn substantial goodwill, and that can result in a future sale from me or, possibly, I spread the word that people can stream your album by putting posts on various forums and blogs (and with nearly 10,000 forum & bulletin board posts about music, I assure you, I've done it plenty), and that could lead to new fans and new sales.
For those of you who let me hear all (or near all) of your new album and I liked it... Congrats, you move on to #5.
In addition to the immediate benefit of purchasing your album, there's an assortment of others upsides that could result from my having been able to hear your album (results may and likely will vary):
5a. I invite you to submit an album track to be featured as an All About Jazz Download of the Day. AAJ gets over 800,000 unique visitors a month, so not too shabby a crowd to get your music out in front of.
5b. If your album hasn't been released to the public yet, and it's going to retail on eMusic, then I may include it as one of my weekly jazz picks. eMusic has something like half a million member customers, so that can't hurt promo-wise to get out in front of that group.