Friday, January 8, 2016

The Topspin Media “Email For Media” Widget is pure genius.

Topspin Media is a service for musicians and filmmakers that has been around since 2007, according to wiki. When I started looking for ways to promote and sell my music in late 2012, Topspin came highly recommended from a friend. He told me that it was a cutting edge tool that major artists and labels were using and is now available to lowly peasants like myself. At first, it all seemed too good to be true. They offer a customizable store, where you can sell merchandise, digital downloads and concert tickets in one interface and get direct deposits to your bank account for $9.99 USD per month and a small commission (15% Sales Fee.) All you have to do is embed the code on your artist website. Pretty amazing and straightforward without a bunch of Topspin branding everywhere. Unlike using a distributor that helps you get onto iTunes, Amazon and the big retailers, when you sell direct with Topspin, you get to actually keep the emails of your customers, which is a great feature. Direct email marketing is so important that the creators of Topspin created another tool that is included in the monthly subscription price, called the “email for media” widget.

A “widget” is an application, that enables a user to perform a function or access a service. The Topspin “email for media” Widget is a little app that offers fans a free song download in exchange for their email address. You can customize and post this widget on Facebook or on your own website. I knew a band that did an interview with a local online blog, and was allowed to embed their widget at the bottom of the article. They collected 335 emails from that one interview during the first three days. Email addresses are, by far, a more effective direct to fan marketing tool compared to social media “followers.” If you are serious about staying in touch with your fans, this widget may be one of the most effective tools to convert those social media contacts into direct email contacts.

In my opinion, Topspin is a great service for an artist or band that is serious about music and is actively marketing, playing shows and recording. Eventually, Topspin is where you want to be when your band is geared up and running on all cylinders. Collecting email addresses at the shows and selling bundles of merchandise, downloads and tickets could lead to serious money. Check out the "What is Topspin?" youtube video, it is very informative.

As with all subscription services, eventually the subscription costs start to add up. So if creating music is a part time hobby, and you're releasing just a few singles per year, you probably want to go with a service that has a “one-time” setup fee to distribute your music with like Symphonic Distribution or CDBaby. Or, if your funds are really low, will put your music on top retail sites with no upfront costs at all. (15% commission on the back end.) I feel like Topspin would be able to attract more entry level artists, if they offered the “Email for Media” widget with the free account for your first 500 email addresses. This would give entry level musicians an opportunity to “grow” into being a full Topspin Media subscriber. There are actually three levels of Topspin subscription services that are offered.

Reverb Nation's Fan Reach program has a simple widget called Fan Collector, which does not offer free media for download like the Topspin widget. However, you can collect up to 500 email addresses from fans with this simple tool, which can be embedded on your website or on Facebook for free.

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