Why Curation? — An Interview with ReverbNation’s Simon Perry

In the first part of our upcoming series profiling the ReverbNation Curation Team, we spoke with Chief Creative Officer Simon Perry about how ReverbNation's curation technology was developed, as well as how artists can benefit from this exciting and innovative system.

Why has ReverbNation developed a Curation capability?

The Internet allows Artists to connect directly with their fans. Since 2006, ReverbNation has provided a powerful set of tools that allow Artists to cultivate these all-important fan relationships, and manage their careers online. However, to honour our mission of delivering career growth to our Artists, we’ve always understood that we need to provide more than just this critical toolkit. We also need to offer access to opportunities in the music industry.

What types of opportunities does ReverbNation offer its Artists?

In the last year alone we’ve connected thousands of Artists to many industry opportunities including appearances at major music festivals, provided exposure to the A&R teams at major labels and song placements on film and TV.

How have changes in the industry impacted the way that ReverbNation thinks about its role?

ReverbNation has expanded the tools and opportunities that allow independent Artists to control their own careers. However, the changing economics of the music industry have significantly eroded the the traditional resources available for talent scouting.

To make matters worse, the sheer scale of content now available online across thousands of sources globally creates an additional burden on traditional talent scouting networks, which are already stretched to breaking point.

In terms of sheer scale, ReverbNation leads the pack as the global source for new Artists. With 50,000 new Artists joining ReverbNation every month, in addition to nearly 4 million Artists who are already on the site, ReverbNation’s status as the #1 home for new music means we are uniquely positioned to solve this increasingly challenging problem of Artist Discovery.  We have access to more new artists than anyone else in the world.

Additionally, at a time when successful Artists are emerging from any number of countries and remote geographies, ReverbNation’s dominant presence on the Internet affords us a panoramic vantage point. From Provo, UT to the suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand, ReverbNation is able to identify the very best Artists regardless of where they call home.

How long has ReverbNation been curating the music on its database?

ReverbNation spent two years developing and refining its curation-at-scale capability and launched our Curation Initiative it in 2014. In 2015, we reviewed over 1 million Artists. We’ve since doubled our curation efforts this year, so we’re going to hit a much higher number this year.

What methods does ReverbNation use to discover new music?

ReverbNation has access to more artist career data than any company in its field. We make some of that data available to the public. Much of it however, we do not share. This means we know a lot about our Artists and their music. Most importantly, we can see where your music impacts fans, and interacts with Industry tastemakers.

Is it all about data?

No. We understand that the best music is about so much more than just data. So while our algorithms are helpful, we also ensure that the music is listened to by humans–real people who care a lot about great music.

This means that once the Artist data has been crunched, it’s delivered to our highly trained Curation Team that consists of fans, artists, and finally, experts from our team of Senior Curators. ReverbNation’s Curation System has three tiers of review, and along with the Artist data ReverbNation has at our disposal, allows the Curation Team to have the clearest view possible of each Artist they review.

What types of reviewers make-up ReverbNation’s Senior Curation Team?

The Internet has changed the way music is consumed by all of us. These days, music lives online, and increasingly, so do many of the most influential tastemakers. A new breed of gatekeeper that includes bloggers, DJs, TV & radio producers, journalists and music supervisors, now play an important role in the discovery and exposure of new music. This influential group’s ability to make direct, often immediate connections has enabled a new world of discovery: a world where an Artist can connect directly with their audience, and where fans can find new music via a constantly evolving set of online resources.

ReverbNation’s Senior Curation Team reflects this seismic shift in music discovery. Our team is made up of passionate tastemakers and experts, many of whom live online, and all of whom share a deep commitment to identifying and exposing the best new music.

Who are ReverbNation’s Senior Curation Team?

We will introduce the Curation Team here in the coming weeks.

What are the main criteria the Team considers?

The Curation Team is looking for great music. Period. Every member of our aims to uncover Artists whose music is real, credible, and straight from the heart, music that moves people. Beyond that, the team will also look at the story around the music. That means photos, live shows and videos. They’ll also assess interactions with fans via social media and email communications.  

Is ReverbNation’s Curation System one size fits all?

ReverbNation also understands that Artists are not all at the same stage of their careers. Our Curation Team looks for good prospects, no matter where they are in their journey. From bedroom producers to medium sized touring acts, outstanding talent is the only common selection criterion.

How can Artists help the Curation Team do its job?

It’s very simple: The more Artists tell us about themselves and their music music, the more information they share, the more engaged they are with ReverbNation the easier it is for us to find them.

How should Artists share that information?

It’s important that Artists’ ReverbNation profiles are both current and complete. This means:

  • Photos are recent and offer a good representation of Artists and their bands.
  • Music is up to date and if possible, well recorded.
  • The Use of ReverbNation’s Tools:
    • Fan Reach
    • Social Synch
    • Promote It
    • RPK
    • Post Live Shows
    • Submit to Opportunities (maybe we can link to the opps page on RN.com?)

Can Artists request that their music be reviewed by the Curation Team?

No. To ensure that we honor our Artist First mission, we’re committed to the creation of a level playing field. This means we can never allow an Artist to jump the queue. The Curation system is designed to apply the same passionate, fair and thorough methodology to each and every ReverbNation Artist.

If an Artist doesn’t get noticed the first time the Curation Team listens to their music, is that their last chance to be discovered on ReverbNation’s platform?

Absolutely not. We recognize that music is art, and like most art forms, it takes time and dedication to get to where you’re going. The fact that an Artist is not ready to be exposed to a wider audience right now, does not mean that they won’t be ready in the future.

All of the biggest and best Artists had to start somewhere. The Beatles had Hamburg, the Rolling Stones were originally a cover band. And while so much has changed since those early days, that critical period of invention and growth is just as vital now as it was back then.

To make sure we don’t miss this development, we’re constantly assessing new ways to learn about our Artists’ journeys. Each time Artists engage with us in a meaningful way, it allows us to evaluate where they are in their careers. That means every time they post new music or videos, add an RPK or apply for an opportunity, play a show at a buzz venue or use the tools to communicate with their fans and market their music, we’re able to learn from the activity around those events.

So, it’s not one strike and you’re out?

No. Bottom line: As long as the Artists keep creating, we’ll keep listening.

If an Artist joined ReverbNation before the Curation System was launched, will they miss out on getting reviewed by the Curation Team?

Not at all. While we’re committed to reviewing the vast amount of new music that comes to the site every day, we’re also working hard to listen to every Artist that’s been with us for a while.  Again, we’re using our data to help us find the Artists that are ready to be heard by our Curation Team, and ultimately, ready to be connected to a wider audience.

What should those artists do?

To help us, Artists who have been using ReverbNation for a while should make sure their profile is up to date and optimized, so that the very best versions of their work is available for us to see and hear.

What’s does ReverbNation’s Curation-at-scale capability mean for the Music Industry, and for music fans?

Curation allows ReverbNation to be a vital bridge between emerging Artists, and the music industry, where now more than ever, the industry needs to identify promising Artists early in their careers. We believe our ability to play this critical role represents an important innovation that will strengthen the music industry and build a solid foundation for its continued growth. We also believe this evolution in Artist Discovery will drive the success of a new generation of Artists around the world. As we expand this new capability, ReverbNation is fast becoming a premier destination for the best new music, a destination where fans can discover the best emerging Artists at the very beginning of their careers.

ReverbNation was the starting point for acts like Imagine Dragons, The Civil Wars, Mac Miller, Alabama Shakes, Casey Musgraves and Rachel Platten. We believe our music discovery experience will be a unique and rewarding ride.

What does ReverbNation do with the Artists it discovers?

ReverbNation’s goal is to help Artists be successful. To achieve that, we believe that identifying Artists that are ready for the next stage of their career is good for the Artist and good for the industry. Developing this industry-first curation-at-scale capability allows ReverbNation to connect its Artists with an even broader array of opportunities.

Can you offer some examples?

Yes. Since the beginning of 2014, ReverbNation’s Curation Team has supported artist discovery for major labels including Sire, Atlantic, Island and Columbia.  Additionally, major music festivals like Summerfest, Firefly Festival, TomorrowWorld and Voodoo Fest have relied on ReverbNation’s Curation Capability to sort through the tens of thousands of Artists who submit to our Opportunities  to source the best live talent to book for their lineups.

Can you talk a little bit about the Curation Team’s role in Hard Rock Rising 2015 and The Special Olympics Relay Across America?  

This year, the Curation Team helped select artists for multiple Hard Rock Cafes all across the world, tailoring artists suggestions for each market. We also worked with the coordinators of the Special Olympics Relay Across America to source talent for more than 100  tour stops during this year’s Special Olympics Torch Relay leading up to the Los Angeles Games. In both cases, we were able to provide a wide array of talent to suit dozens of unique markets.

Are there other applications for ReverbNation’s Curation Capability?

Yes. This year, we launched ReverbNation CONNECT, a new initiative that will help some the best Artists identified by our Curation Team grow their audience, and ultimately, develop their careers.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for profiles on each of the Senior Curation Team members!

SamWhy Curation? — An Interview with ReverbNation’s Simon Perry
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New Song Player Announced — Embeddable & Shareable

We haven’t talked about this much yet, but you may have noticed that we’ve given our song player a much-needed facelift, and we’re pretty excited with how it looks.

You can compile a great looking playlist or share a song all by itself — both options will put your album artwork front and center. You can even customize the “waveform” of each song to match that artwork, or choose a sleek looking “dark” or “light” finish.

So whether you’re pitching your latest single to Stereogum or embedding your newest album on your website, your music is going to look as good as it sounds.

Horizontal Player

Artwork Player

To get your own player, visit the Tools > Widgets section of your Dashboard!

SamNew Song Player Announced — Embeddable & Shareable
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Artists You Should Hear Round Up — September 2015

Check out these 10 great artists curated by the ReverbNation CONNECT artist development team. They were all featured on the ReverbNation homepage throughout the month of September, and now you can dig into their music using the playlist below. Enjoy!

Monogem (Los Angeles, CA) — Indie Electronic
This LA-based indie electronic singer has garnered a lot of attention lately, from premiering her latest video (“Wait and See”) on pop culture blog The Nerdist to premiering a cover of The Weeknd’s “Earned It” on Idolator.

SamArtists You Should Hear Round Up — September 2015
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Artists You Should Hear Round-Up — August 2015

Starting this month, our CONNECT artist development team will be choosing 10 of their favorite artists from the month's selection of homepage featured artists. We've assembled them together in one playlist for your listening pleasure — let us know your favorites!

Lena Fayre
Already noted as an “Artist To Watch” by Rolling Stone and featured on Noisey and L.A. Weekly, indie pop singer-songwriter Lena Fayre just premiered her latest video, “Possessions,” on Idolator. This single is the latest from her acclaimed new EP, Is There Only One?

Vintage Trouble
After joining hard rock legends AC/DC on tour across Europe this summer, Vintage Trouble will head out on their own headlining tour. They’ll be playing across the US, including Nashville, New York City, New Orleans, and Austin.

Flora Cash
Flora Cash’s song “Save Me” was recently featured on one of Berlin-based PR agency Nordic By Nature’s Spotify playlists. Their song “Whoa My” was also featured on an episode of MTV’s Teen Mom 2 (their second feature for that show).

Lo’ There Do I See My Brother
Tacoma, WA’s Lo’ There Do I See My Brother debuted the video for their latest post-rock opus, “Twenty Three,” on PureVolume.com

KaiL Baxley
In support of his highly anticipated album, A Light That Never Dies, LA-based soul singer KaiL Baxley premiered his latest single (“Mirrors of Paradise”) on Diffuser Mag. He was also recently featured in The Huffington Post’s “Speaking With Your New Favorite Artist.”

Sky White Tiger
After premiering his latest video for “Don’t Mean Much” on Entertainment Weekly, Brooklyn’s Sky White Tiger set off on an international tour in support of his latest EP, Child of Fire. Tour stops include NYC, Mexico, Switzerland, and Spain.

The Grizzled Mighty
Rockers The Grizzly Mighty will playing this year’s Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival in Walla Walla, WA, alongside Mumford & Sons, Foo Fighters, The Flaming Lips, and tUnE-yArDs.

Jesse Lafser
After several features in noted music publications across the country (Rolling Stone, The Bluegrass Situation, and American Songwriter), Jesse Lafser will spend August playing various shows around NYC and finish off with a full-band set in her hometown of Nashville, TN at The 5 Spot Live on September 3rd.

The Bright Light Social Hour
After supporting Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros in July and hitting up Float Fest in San Marcos, TX, later this month, The Bright Light Social Hour will head out on their own fall tour across the US.

Young Ejecta
Young Ejecta was recently featured on Pitchfork for her latest EP, The Planet. She’ll also be playing at CONNECT’s “After Dark” series at the Art Institute of Chicago after coming off a national tour with Lower Dens.

JordanArtists You Should Hear Round-Up — August 2015
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5 Questions with TomorrowWorld Marketing Manager, Joe Silberzweig

TomorrowWorld is quickly becoming one of America's largest EDM festivals, with more than 160,000 festivalgoers in attendance at last year's festival. As part of our official TomorrowWorld opportunity, we spoke with the festival's marketing manager, Joe Silberzweig, about how TomorrowWorld sets itself apart from other festivals, and why artists should be paying attention this opportunity.

1) What makes TomorrowWorld unique in the crowded festival landscape, and why should an artist pay attention to this particular pop?


Joe Silberzweig

When TomorrowWorld’s creators decided to bring a version of the world famous Tomorrowland to America, they knew they had to do something different to capture America’s attention. TomorrowWorld is first and foremost an experiential event. Set on 8,000 acres of lush farmland within the forests of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, the festival is nestled in-between rolling hills and sprawling lakes. Additionally, the festival’s 21+ age limit creates an incredibly unique dynamic for fans. Artists love playing TomorrowWorld because they are truly part of the fairytale we create on site and an essential part of the experience we create. Artists also benefit through TomorrowWord’s owned channels such as the widely trafficked festival live-stream and through our social channels, which are the largest of any festival in America. 

2) How does TomorrowWorld find its acts? Why is ReverbNation a good fit for TomorrowWorld?

TomorrowWorld always looks to incorporate a wide array of electronic acts. While we are known for booking some of the world’s biggest DJ’s such as Tiesto, David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Armin Van Buuren, we always stress musical diversity. This year’s festival will feature 9 stages all showcasing different sounds and styles. We are proactive with our bookings and attend shows all around the world to identify emerging talent.

In addition, we are constantly exposed to talent through online channels such as Soundcloud, YouTube, ReverbNation etc. ReverbNation was a great fit for TomorrowWorld this year with the introduction of our live stage. While Reverb encompasses all genres of music, they excel in the live space and were the perfect partner to host our first ever competition to open the live stage. 

3) What do you look for in an artist when booking them? What is the artist’s responsibility if booked?

TomorrowWorld approaches its bookings very differently than most other music festivals. We work with a variety of creatives, labels, and artists to host the majority of our stages and help set the tone of the event. This year we have tapped dozens of hosting partners across 9 stages to showcase their unique style and sound to TomorrowWorld attendees. Once an artist is booked, we expect them to deliver a captivating set that often encompasses an array of new music.

4) Why has TomorrowWorld decided to add a “Live” music stage?

TomorrowWorld continues to evolve each year and add new features to keep pushing the boundaries of music festivals. It’s also very important to us that we give our returning fans each year a new experience on site. We are very excited about the all-new Live Stage, which is actually the first live stage in TomorrowWorld and Tomorrowland’s storied history. Since festivalgoers are so open to an array of musical styles and influences, we felt it was important to add this stage to showcase the best artists across a wider musical spectrum.

5) EDM has dominated the music landscape for most of recent memory — is that trend fading at all?

Tomorrowland has been championing dance music for the past decade, and that will not any change anytime soon. While EDM may be approaching its peak, new genres, such as Future House or Tropical House, and exciting combinations of live and electronic acts, such as Caribou and Disclosure, continue to push the genre forward. Electronic Music has greatly benefitted from the rise of social media, which has also helped spawn overnight success for dozens of artists. More so than Live acts, one of the best things about being an electronic artist is the ease and accessibility of producing music. While I don’t think the electronic trend will fade anytime soon, it’s imperative the genre continues to reinvent itself to sustain its growth.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity — submissions close August 29th, 2015!

Sam5 Questions with TomorrowWorld Marketing Manager, Joe Silberzweig
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Hard Rock Rising 2015: A Judge’s Perspective

ReverbNation's Chief Creative Officer, Simon Perry, flew to Barcelona, Spain, last week to judge the finals of Hard Rock Rising 2015. Check out his recap and some great photos from the event below!

The Hard Rock Café in Barcelona is located in a beautiful space that opens out above a steep stone entrance off La Placa de Catalunya. The rectangular shape of the main room invites the audience to pack out the area around the stage, and by 8pm, no space was left unclaimed. An electric charge began to build around the venue as the excitement grew in the at-capacity crowd.

Hidden away in a small green room behind the stage were the six finalists, each act already a winner from one of five regional heats held at Hard Rock venues around the world — powered by ReverbNation and its Curation Team. Nervously counting down the last few moments before the grand finale, the six bands had nothing left to do but wait, instruments in hand, until it was their turn to perform.

I’ve been a judge several times on similar global talent searches, and it’s worth saying that it’s more nerve-wracking than it sounds. What if all the bands are terrible? What would I say?

The reality is that any act capable of making it to the final round of this competition would be great.

My fellow panelists, including Alyssa Castiglia from Island Records, also confessed to a little pre-match anxiety. And as we sharpened our pencils over our scorecards, we held out hope that tonight would be a great night of music.

Our task was simple enough: pre-weighted scorecards prompted us to grade the songs, the performance, musicianship and overall commercial appeal. But any system that tries to quantify music is imperfect, and ultimately, our scores could only reflect our gut reaction to the music. With that in mind, I approached the finals with the feeling that any of the finalists could win that night.

Chanson Calhoun

Chanson Calhoun

The first artist up was Chanson Calhoun, a talented singer-songwriter from Kentucky. Offering an explosive blend of organic hip-hop and soulful R&B, she crooned and strutted her way through an impressive set of original material. As she left the stage the audience roared, and the judges breathed a sigh of relief. We were off, and clearly, this was going to be a tremendous night of music.

Second up was Enemy Planes, a tight indie-rock outfit from Minnesota. Echoes of M83, Foster the People, and acid jazz created a canvas for frontman Casey Call’s vocal lines to float above a sonic storm. The band cast spells on its audience, aided by their futuristic use of traditional electric lap-steel sounds. As they gave up the stage, Enemy Planes left a final note hanging as a postscript to a beguiling set, delivered with precision and conviction by a kick-ass band.

Two down, and our job went from hard to impossible.

Wolf Colony

The third act didn’t make our task any easier. As the winner of the Hard Rock Rising video cover contest, I knew a little about Wolf Colony before the night. His gorgeous cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” had been a staff favorite around the office, and I was looking forward to seeing his original set. Wearing his trademark wolf mask and backed by a powerful drummer and standout keyboard player, Wolf Colony grooved hard through some of the strongest songwriting of the night. It was a great night for dance music, and as the Wolf howled, he definitely found animal lovers in the young Spanish crowd.

Two bands managed to bring their own fans with them to Barcelona — an impressive feat considering the bands travelled from Scotland and Argentina.

Break The Butterfly

Break the Butterfly came out fighting. They also proved worthy of their name, as Celtic melodies collided with a relentless wall of sound. I have a weakness for Scottish bands like this, who tend to do this genre of music better than anyone else. After the second song, the audience they brought with them from Fife merged with the local crowd to create one big sweaty mess of happy people. The lead singer didn’t need to pull out the bagpipes to win us over. But sure, bagpipes never hurt anyone.

Let’s just say, I wrote “bagpipe solo – AWESOME” on my scorecard, and spent the rest of their set on my feet.  

Blazer, all the way from Buenos Aires, had also imported a rabid group of fans to cheer on their sound-barrier breaking brand of heavy rock. The band won the night in terms of tearing down the walls. I was surprised the venue was still standing after they left. They literally tore the place apart, and like every band that night, they won new admirers and impressed the judges with their passion, drive, talent, and professionalism.

Blazer (L) and Dorothy (R)

Blazer (L) and Dorothy (R)

And so on to Dorothy. What can be said of a trio of post-punk, Clash-inspired Japanese guys with the coolest boots on the planet? If there was an act that we all fell in love with on the night, audience and judges alike, it was these guys. We started smiling from the moment they walked on stage, and there’s still a Dorothy-induced smile on my face as I write this two days later. The band went crazy. The crowd obediently lost their minds, and the 3 lads who’d never been on a plane before—let alone left Japan—proved that music is the one true language that unites us all. (And seriously, where can we buy those boots?!).

The judges retired to a small room in the basement to deliberate. It wasn’t easy. In fact, we all agreed that there could be no loser.

If we had to pick a winner, fine, but everyone else was coming in second.

Enemy Planes were simply the first amongst equals. They had a sound we believed would go down well at the festival on Saturday night, and they’d worked hard to craft a set that made sense for a new audience.

Enemy Planes tearing up the Hard Rock Rising finals

Judges, audience members, and contestants were all treated to a great night of music, driven by the spirit of friendly competition. The event brought a diverse group of artists together from every corner of the globe to share a passion and commitment to music. Speaking to the musicians at the hotel later that night, they’d clearly had the experience of a lifetime, and made some new friends they’d stay in touch with long after the night ended.

Enemy Planes looked completely at home on the Hard Rock Rising stage on the beach two days later. It was great to see them win over Robbie Williams and Avicii’s audience with their Minneapolis brand of modern rock and roll. They’d come a long way from seeing the competition in their ReverbNation inbox in 2014. From regional finals in the Mall of America to the final battle in Barcelona, their efforts culminated in a triumphant set in front of a huge festival crowd, sharing the stage with mega-stars like Lenny Kravitz, Kings of Leon, and Avicii.

Enemy Planes on the Hard Rock Rising Barcelona main stage

Enemy Planes on the Hard Rock Rising Barcelona main stage

Congrats to Enemy Planes, and a big thank you to the other finalists, and everyone who participated in the competition this year to make such a success of Hard Rock Rising 2015.

Listen to all six finalists here:

SamHard Rock Rising 2015: A Judge’s Perspective
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Come “Discover the Undiscovered” with EchoMusic by ReverbNation

The internet has made it easier than ever to be a musician. Bands can upload their entire catalog in minutes and share it with fans from around the world, connecting in ways never before possible.

But being a music fan is hard. Who has time to sift through thousands of new songs every week? Who has the time to look for the best new bands?

Fortunately, we do.

We’re proud to announce EchoMusic — a music discovery app that will reintroduce you to the joys of discovery. Unlike other discovery apps, we don’t play you the music you already know and like. We give you the songs you didn’t know you were missing out on.

Hours of music were hand-picked by our Curation Team of industry tastemakers (bloggers, music licensing supervisors, DJs). Thousands of different artists from the ReverbNation community across many genres are represented. And we’re working to increase the catalog of EchoMusic every day.

The app is available for free on both iOS and Android devices, and EchoMusic doesn’t require any new sign-ups or accounts. Just open the app and start listening to some great new music from the ReverbNation community.


Key Features

· Ad-free music
· Simple, easy-to-use interface
· No account required
· Unlimited skips
· Select one or multiple genres to mix up your playlist
· Share music with friends via text, email, and social
· Keep track of your favorite songs

Want to hear your songs in EchoMusic?

Our curation team is always on the lookout for fresh, new music to add to EchoMusic. Make sure your profile page is up to date with your latest music, videos, shows, etc. The more you stay on top of your ReverbNation profile, the better your chances of being spotted by our team become.




SamCome “Discover the Undiscovered” with EchoMusic by ReverbNation
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Announcing the Winner of Hard Rock Rising 2015 — Enemy Planes

After more than 13,000 artist submissions were narrowed down to a select group of six finalists, the Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands came to an exciting finish yesterday! Performers took to the stage in Barcelona, Spain, for one last round of competition to see who would end up on this year’s Hard Rock Rising main stage.

We’re excited to announce that Minneapolis, MN’s Enemy Planes was selected as this year’s Hard Rock Rising grand prize winner, putting them on the main stage in Barcelona, Spain. They’ll be performing today, and we will be the first to bring you exclusive footage and behind-the-scenes info about his performance and the festival itself.

Stay tuned!

SamAnnouncing the Winner of Hard Rock Rising 2015 — Enemy Planes
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