Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MUSIC: Sonific SongSpots and Sonific Mail are cool man, cool (for the most part)

Hear ye! Oyez all audiophiles, podcasters, bloggers, webmasters and indie musicians! I recently subscribed to Sonific and posted the "Ciao Bella" SongSpot in this post (which won't change) and this sidebar (which will update periodically). The upbeat piece by Percussive Arts Society Hall of Famer (1994), Emil Richards, and the Maui Jazz Quartet really jazzes up the joint, n'est ce pas?

From where I stand now: orchestrating SongSpots-powered virtual jukeboxes will be a piece of cake. However, synchronizing multiple selections into an automatically-started, sequentially sequenced playlist may not yet be possible in this, Sonific's Beta, stage I will fiddle around with that project after the holiday.

My impressions, so far, of Sonific's offerings (the Sonific Music Network, SongSpots and Sonific Mail): the short version can be encapsulated in seven beats: cool man, cool (for the most part). I'll riff about my reservations later. First, let's review the pertinent facts, which strike mostly high notes.

Sonific LLC, according to PR Newswire, is "a leading provider of licensed music widgets and free music applications for social media." The firm also purveys podsafe music, gratis, from the Sonific Music Network ("SMN"). Collectively, Sonific's separate but integrated wares comprise a brilliant combo of viral marketing tools.

This arrangement benefits five audiences. It helps:
  • Artists and Labels to disseminate and increase sales of their music;
  • Publishers and Audiophiles to access enjoyable, cost-effective sounds they can legally share online, sans exorbitant licensing fees; and of course,
  • Sonific to take a slice of music sales.

  • The SMN is a large and expanding catalog of genre-diverse music. Sonific FAQS sez they've licensed "over 500,000 tracks which [they] are gradually bringing into the system, plus, [they] have a huge collection in the pipeline too."

    That's good news, as size matters with music collections. So does easy searchability, whose importance is positively correlated with the vastness of a catalog. SMN has both. Search tools and tag clouds facilitate searches by artist, title, description and genre.

    Selections, a.k.a. "SongSpots™", are free customizable flash-players that "stream the song of your choice from almost any web page that you can edit yourself, such as blogs, social network profiles, photo sharing sites, or home pages." The musical widgets, each of which plays a full-length single, can be easily tailored for size, horizontal or vertical orientation, volume, and automatic or manual start or replay.

    Sonific also offers a comprehensive array of publication options. Subscribers can readily e-mail SongSpots via Sonific Mail, or post them online via Object & Embed, JavaScript Object & Embed, Object only, and Embed only elements, as well as by JavaScript and HTML links.

    The entire process of selecting, tailoring and distributing SongSpots is fast and easy, too. Moreover, Sonific.com offers ample, well-written, user-friendly help resources.

    Despite your possible impressions at this point, SongSpots don't flow as freely as speakeasy booze during Prohibition (or pirated (?) music in Napster's heyday). Sonific has several strict terms of use. However, they are reasonable and easy to comprehend and adhere to.

    Here is the low note: Sonific's generally win-win arrangement has skipped a beat regarding certain affiliate revenues for SongSpots publishers.

    Don't get me wrong. I dig it that musicians and Sonific split the proceeds from songs and albums featured in specific SongSpots. It's appropriate that publishers get SongSpots singles for free, in exchange for helping to publicize the featured singles, albums and artists.

    But here's where the arrangement falls as flat as an unleavened, crumb-free Bonfire of the Vanities cake: links in each SongSpot don't just spur sales of the selected singles and the CDs they ride in on. They promote sales of music on other CDs, as well. Consequently, precluding publishers from participating with Sonific in earnings from this latter, legitimate, source of affiliate marketing revenues strikes a slightly sour chord.

    Affiliate revenues-loving SongSpots subscribers can take some solace in this: there's more than one way to feed a kitty. One example is contextual programs like Google Adwords. Another is affiliate link and banner programs that promote music by SongSpots artists. For example, the Amazon.com banner, below, advertises albums that feature Emil Richards.