My ReverbNation + Crowd Review Experience

I’ve been playing more guitar in the last few months than I ever played in the last two decades. It all changed when my wife gave me, as a birthday present, a Gibson Les Paul, the dream guitar that I always wanted to have. Now that I have it, I just couldn’t allow it to get dusty so I started playing more often.

I always enjoyed playing with bands and recording an album has always been on my to-do list but didn’t have the time or opportunity to do that yet.

I do have a MacBook Pro though, and you can do a lot of interesting things with it and music is a good example of the amazing things you can achieve, especially if you use one piece of software that is called GarageBand.

When I discovered GarageBand it was like suddenly a whole new world emerged in front of me. All of a sudden I had my own band, with a few clicks I could create a new song, add drums and all kinds of instruments. To record the guitars I use the iRig HD which allows me to record bass, rhythm and solo guitars, the only instruments I don’t use software to play and record.

Another essential piece is the Logic Remote app for iPad which makes the perfect companion app for GarageBand.

With this setup I’m ready to rock’n’roll and I’ve been playing guitar and recording some songs since then.

Bare in mind that I’m not a musician per se, I mean, I like to play my guitars, I’ve been playing guitar since I was twelve but I have plenty of limitations. For starters I can’t read musical notations and I miss a lot of other basic music knowledge which by itself is a great handicap but I like to think that what I miss on this theoretical side, I compensate with feeling, whatever that may be.

But none of that really matters to me, the most important part is that all of a sudden I was writing songs and having lots of fun at the same time which by itself is already wonderful.

Then, a few weeks ago, I discovered Rotor Videos. An amazing tool to create music videos online. It’s a great, simple and effective solution to make great videos at a cheap price. Now I’m feeling like a rock star, making my own music with video clips and all that, really good feeling of accomplishment, it’s nothing like having a band and recording a real album but for me it’s just as close as it could get.

Music Video from ‘Sexy’ by Rotor Videos

Then I discovered ReverbNation and more important, the Crowd Review service. ReverbNation is like a social network for artists and bands and Crowd Review allows any artist to get feedback of a song from unbiased fans. Family and friends will most likely be supportive of your work and always tell you they like your music, which was my case, but I thought this was a great opportunity to really test the quality of the songs I was writing although I read articles about Crowd Review being somewhat incoherent and unreliable but I thought I could give it a try, after all USD 25 for 50 reviews is not a lot of money.

After submitting the request I waited impatiently until the results came in. In fact I waited less than 24 hours, much quicker than I was expecting, but it felt like almost a week had gone by.
The overall result for the song I submitted was 7.6 out of 10. Not bad I would say! Not too bad for a self-taught guitar player without any deep musical knowledge, just that feeling I was talking about before.

Now, there were 50 reviews in total, some ranked 10 out of 10 but also some 1, 3 and 4 out of 10. Here are a few of them, let’s start with the bad ones:

1 out of 10 — This felt way too much like hold music. It just didn’t have anything special that would stand out to me. Maybe a little extra notes or attempt to have something extra. I think it’s the tinny sound that got to me.
3 out of 10 — At first, I did not like the repetitive feel to the guitar riffs. They weren’t quite varied enough. It was oversimplified in a boring way. The beat was actually kind of annoying.
4 out of 10 — This was an okay beat, but I am overall not impressed by it. It seems like something someone made on their computer. Not very unique. Very repetitive and overall boring.

With all fairness, this last argument is kind of fair because it is something made on my computer, so if you take that into consideration it’s no that bad :)

Then some better reviews that makes you feel better:

10 out of 10 — The jazzy groove of the melody gives the song a positive and joyful instrumentation. The guitar’s solo was very talented and impressive to vibe along with.
10 out of 10 — I like the smooth and mellow sound of the instruments. All of the instruments blend well together making a nice rhythm and beat. I wish it was longer.
10 out of 10 — I really like this selection. It has such a wonderful beat. The instrumentation is wonderful. I could listen to this all day. The guitar part is wonderful!

I like the last one in particular, not so much because of the content but because it’s from a 67 year young lady :)

Now the one comment that stood out of the whole bunch was this one:

8 out of 10 — I think what I like the most about this song is that the vocalist keeps it sweet while also keeping it real and calm throughout the instrumentals; it has a very smooth sound.

This is an instrumental song but notice how this person mentioned the “vocalist”. Now this changed the whole thing upside-down and it really makes you wonder about how this Crowd Review service works. I shouldn’t be complaining, after all I got a 8 out of 10 from this single review but is it just people posting random text about songs? Is there any kind of quality control applied to reviews or reviewers? I have to say that from the whole bunch of reviews only this one really felt funny but it does makes you wonder about the credibility of this service.

Nevertheless, what comes out of this experience is that getting a 7.6 out of 10 isn’t that bad even if some of the reviews seem shady.
What does it mean to me? Well, it still doesn’t make me a proper musician but this experience will definitely keep that flame burning stronger and then time will tell what happens, maybe I’ll get to play with a band again and record that album but in the meanwhile I’ll keep playing and writing more songs.

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