Saturday, March 27, 2010 EPK Review

So, there's a new website/social-musical network about to launch called (In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to have a radio show on their online radio network, called The Mixtape Jones Radio Hour.) Mike, the fearless creator and founder of JiveWired, asked me to go ahead and throw up an EPK for Dr. Pants, and I did. Now I'm gonna tell you what I think of it.

First of all, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way; the word EPK probably has an iffy connotation to it these days, thanks to Sonicbids. Sonicbids is a controversial thing amongst musicians currently...everyone has an opinion. I personally am not so fond of Sonicbids, and I'm glad, REALLY GLAD, to see someone else step into the game. There are all sorts of rumors flying around about what Sonicbids has and has not done, as well as some pretty infuriating statements that have been made by Sonicbids' founder at conferences, etc. (I've been personally privy to some of these), but I don't think that Sonicbids or what they've created was necessarily a bad idea. It's just not at its best right now, and hasn't been for a while. JiveWired will hopefully contribute to a more healthy marketplace in terms of EPKs, festival submissions, etc.

The JiveWired EPK appears to cover most of the ground necessary to a good EPK. The style/look is very clean and very approachable...there are no design elements that I take issue with in any way. The interface is very user-friendly (if you've ever set up a page for your band at any other sort of music networking site, setup will be a breeze for you), and, even though the site is still in beta testing, I experienced no issues or errors while uploading my content (this may seem fussy, but errors cost time, and time as an independent musician is ALWAYS at a premium).

I like that there's a discography, because that emphasizes the amount of actual MUSIC an artist has MADE, instead of how many dates they've played, etc. If you can't actually make a record, or several, I'm probably not interested in going to hear you play anyway (it's a culture thing...we need to do whatever we can to emphasize creativity in the culture, and not the infinite recycling of old models...cover bands, nostalgia tours, etc.). I also like the usability of the calendar feature, in that you just click on the date of the gig you want to enter and then just fill in the info. It REALLY helps prevent inadvertently entering incorrect dates for your shows. I do wonder, however, if there's any chance JiveWired will consider working with ArtistData or Reverb Nation (I'd prefer ArtistData) to enable uploading of a CSV file to fill out calendar dates (again, time is at a premium, and anything that can be done to reduce the number of sites upon which we have to fill out our calendars is a GOOD THING). If you don't know what I'm talking about, basically ArtistData not only syndicates your dates you enter on their site to your Facebook fan page, MySpace page, etc., it also currently enables you to quickly download a CSV file of all your tour dates and upload it to Sonicbids in a couple of clicks.

I like that the profile allows influences to be listed for each individual band member. Dr. Pants is a diverse little group of guys, and we actually don't have a lot in common in terms of our listening habits. We do, however, each have a lot of respect for where the others are coming from, and that's part of what makes the band work. I think it's cool to be able to list that, for me, Guided By Voices or Frank Zappa are an influence, but for Kenneth it's Van Halen, for Dustin it's Sufjan Stevens, and for Aaron it's Grand Funk Railroad. And for all of us, to some degree, it's Weezer (we do have a little common ground).

I do worry a bit that the EPK is sort of all on one page. I mean, there is a download option, of course, so I don't really know that anyone seriously considering booking you for a gig will do anything but that, but if not, are they going to scroll down through the bio and everything else to get to the music? Yes, there's a shortcut to it on the menu to the left, so maybe I should stop my worrying. I made a promise that I'd give an honest review, though, so that's what I'm doing. (Thumbs Up!)

Overall, I think Mike and the guys at JiveWired have done a good job. I don't know that they've necessarily reinvented the wheel here, but I don't know that it's asking to be completely reinvented. I do know, however, that the EPK market definitely needs competition, and that Sonicbids has gotten big enough that it needs to be chipped away at a bit. I think (although I'm not completely sure) that JiveWired's pricing will be a bit more affordable than Sonicbids, and that you will also get a free submission to one of the JiveWired radio shows (including mine, The Mixtape Jones Radio Hour) with your EPK setup. My show is going to (probably) be the most diverse show starting out, and will cover a lot of musical ground, so I wholeheartedly recommend that you send a submission my way (unless you are metal, really radio-friendly rock or pop, or mainstream rap...there will be other shows that work better for you).

Hope this review helps you, if you're considering posting an EPK. I'd say give JiveWired a chance.

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