For bands, radio exposure has never been the end result. It’s always been the means. Whether to boost album or ticket sales, artists have traditionally seen the radio as a method for promoting a product or good.
So has Joey Flores. Last year the Venice, CA, musician-turned-marketer launched Earbits, a site that masks direct marketing and outreach efforts from bands in an online radio platform that costs users nothing, and yet won’t annoy them with loud, boring advertisements.
Bands and labels get their music onto Earbits by submitting it to an editorial team. If they’re approved, which presumably means they are at least somewhat decent, they can buy airtime for two cents per play. The whole deal is also available as a free iPhone or Android app in addition to the web version.
Nationally, the idea for bands is to use Earbits as a way to get exposure in places they may not be able to play live, with the hopes that someone will like their music and buy their music. It’s a novel idea, and it actually produced some great playlists in our testing.
But these days, plenty of music fans don’t buy much music anyway, which is why Earbits is wise to focus on promoting concerts instead. It makes us wonder why more apps don’t use location to promote shows from the currently-playing artist.
Knowing that music is returning to the live and local, Earbits launched its first city-specific site this week, SFGate Radio, which will also run on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s website and play music exclusively from Bay Area bands.
The local nature of the site allows the 235 bands who paid to be included to promote their shows (and releases) cost-effectively, which should help San Francisco’s vibrant live music scene get the attention it deserves.
“I always thought of this company from the standpoint that it’s really painful to market shows,” Flores told Evolver.fm. “I never [realized] that it was also really painful [for fans] to find good shows… I can go back into Earbits, turn on the Hard Rock & Metal channel, find a band I like, and then see when they are playing around town.”
SFGate Radio’s artist-friendly design (after all, they’re the ones paying for it) looks much like the national Earbits outlet, which launched in January. High-definition art graces the top of the site, which is categorized by broad genres, followed by a link to Facebook and Twitter sharing and the artist’s discography, photos, and biography.
The big difference is that the local SFGate Radio web app — because it assumes you’re in the Bay Area — pops up show announcements whenever you’re listening to an artist with local shows coming up. You can scroll down on the page to find tour dates for both that artist in particular as well as any artist that you may find on the station you’re listening to. If you find something you like, SFGate taps Bands In Town‘s API (application programming interface) to make it easy to buy a ticket without having to search.
The idea behind SFGate Radio will likely spread to other cities. Flores says he would like to launch local Earbits services in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, and New Orleans, and told us it already has a partnership arrangement with Hearst Publishing, which means that it could set up shop in any city with a Hearst presence.
If such growth occurs — and if other sites copy this idea of using location to promote shows by local bands who pay to promote those shows takes off — the notion of using Myspace to audition bands and find their show dates and hear bands could feel outdated.