By Tabitha Parchman

“A great record is its own best marketing tool”. This quote from NoiseTrade’s co-founder and artist, Derek Webb, is the foundation on which it NoiseTrade is built. NoiseTrade was launched in July of 2008. It is a website where artists can distribute their music direct to fans by letting the fans choose how much they want to “tip” the artist. All they ask is that you leave a little bit of information.

Webb experimented in 2006 by releasing his album Mockingbird in a similar way to the way NoiseTrade does. 80,000 copies of the album were downloaded in 3 months. He simultaneously received valuable information about his fans. The result of these free downloads was increased ticket sales (many of which sold out), increased merchandise sales, and an increase in the number of paid-for downloads of the same album.

Why does NoiseTrade do what it does? It benefits the artist and the fan. By gaining information from fans such as a zip code, the artist has the ability to see where their fans are. This makes it possible for the artist to know where to put on shows, where they need to market more, and where what they are doing is working best. It also allows the artist to connect to their fans. They are able to tell them about upcoming album releases or shows in their area. One of NoiseTrade’s artists Katie Herzig said, “I can’t imagine my little indie world without NoiseTrade, it fills the very large gap between the formal record releases and going door to door with a karaoke machine and clipboard. I really hope people will get behind this campaign, as NoiseTrade has already gotten behind so many artists and music lovers.” A lot of fans are passionate about the artists they love. They want to support the artist but at the same time don’t have a lot of money. NoiseTrade is perfect for these fans. The fan is able to get the music they love for free or at a reduced price and at the same time, they can promote and advertise the artist directly onto their social networking sites.

The average price paid for an album on NoiseTrade is $3.79 and artists get to keep 80% of the sale of an album. NoiseTrade has been able to pay their artists $25,000. The fan can choose to “tip” the artist $0-$100. It is truly up to the fan. In order to make a quick connection with the fan, an automatic email is sent to the purchaser to thank them for spreading the word about the artist, to invite them to keep coming back, to remind the fan to support the artist. Although fans of NoiseTrade can get the music for free, NoiseTrade encourages fans to embed links and widgets to their social network sites as a way of telling friends about the artists instead of simply burning a hard copy.

NoiseTrade keeps in touch with fans and artists not only by sending friendly emails, but by constantly updating their Facebook and Twitter. Daily tweets are sent out with a link to the day’s featured NoiseTrade artist’s music page. Facebook notes written by the founders are posted praising artists for appearances and features on television shows. This shows that not only is NoiseTrade concerned with keeping  a good relationship between the consumer and themselves, but also between the artists and NoiseTrade. It is truly a win-win organization that has gained the trust of not only the fans, but perhaps more importantly, the artist. To see an interview from Joe Kirk about NoiseTrade and what it does, watch this video.

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