Sonicbids is hurting the DIY musicians; Indie On The Move is helping them.

I’m an avid Sonicbids user, but I’m quickly starting to get frustrated. As an artist manager I work with more then one artist that utilizes Sonicbids. They have a pretty simple EPK that hosts all the info you would lack at most other sites like Myspace or Facebook. They also have listings for a large diversity of gigs that range from festivals to publicity.

I officially signed up one of my artists for sonicbids October of 2010 and started using their EPK to help book gigs, which was my original intention behind signing up. In fact I barely glanced around the gigs at first.

Until New Years 2011.

I was eager to get that band onto Atlanta’s Peach Drop. I knew the promoter personally and I quickly sent over their EPK. I got a response directing me to a Sonicbids event.

$15 was the sign-up price. For a local DIY band that’s some serious gas money for a potential gig. I was mystified, why the hell couldn’t I just ask the promoter and get the answer. The promoter knew the band, booked them before. They were offering a single slot to a Sonicbids artist; well I knew there were other slots. Why couldn’t we compete for those other slots?

I opted to not participate and said if he was interested in booking them to just contact me.

I don’t blame the promoter; I blame the atmosphere that Sonicbids creates. Bands were eager to get on the gig and Sonicbids offered a system where not only the promoter could make money but not be bothered with the hundreds of bands that weren’t serious about the opportunity.

The problem is; the bands that do deserve the spot don’t get it and “DIY” gets turned into “DIY if you have cash to blow”. It became obvious the promoter felt the band was qualified for the gig because two weeks later he called me up and offered a spot that was dropped by one of the bands.

Since new years I’ve become more active on Sonicbids by taking risks on gigs that I see opportunity with.  Mostly I’ve tried to stick with gigs that don’t cost anything but every major festival in the Southeast costs money, and I’ve signed up for all of them. We haven’t landed a single one, and I don’t have a problem with that, that’s typical. What I do have a problem with is that these were all gigs, a few years ago, you could just email the promoter and hope for a response…for free.

Now, promoters post these gigs on Sonicbids, stick a price tag on it and only offer a few slots. This atmosphere has added pressure to the already expensive goal of being a middle class musician.

I wouldn’t have such a problem either if Sonicbids weren’t touting their musician friendly mission “…to help create and empower an Artistic Middle Class through the use of innovative technology.”

Tell me how forcing musicians to pay $12 a month for an EPK, then have them pay to apply to the gig is helping to create an “Artistic Middle Class”.

Sonicbids, let me give you an example of a company who is helping musicians:

They have created a website that not only gives you a list of venues in each market but allows others to rate, review, give tips, and share experiences about each venue.

Connecting musicians with promoters based on their terms and not charging them for it.

This company set out to help musicians and they’re doing exactly that, no matter how efficiently.

If Sonicbids continues to grow I fear things will only get harder. Venues have already started posting gigs on Sonicbids with ridiculous attendance qualifiers.

Unfortunately quitting Sonicbids means giving up on gigs that were once available to apply for free.

I was taught that if a company didn’t follow their mission statement they were doomed to fail, and I hope people start seeing Sonicbids for the farce that it is.