An Honest Review of the All-New Sonicbids EPK System

10 Dec

Today, I was checking out a Sonicbids EPK that was emailed to me. Much to my surprise, the layout for a Sonicbids artist profile completely changed – there was no quick bio, music player on top, or a useful set of links (press, stage plot, etc.). Instead, I found a Pinterest-like layout with navigational tiles. I thought it was just some lame option that the artist chose, but decided to check using my own band’s profile.

This is what I found:

For some reason, not only did the layout completely change, it also reverted to our old press photos and songs.

Needless to say, I was quite upset – we carefully protect our brand and make sure that every site reflects our current album/line-up, has updated information, etc. Without warning, Sonicbids changed the layout on everyone.

LOGGING IN

I decided to log in to see if I could quickly address these issues, especially since Sonicbids is our main EPK.

First, my credentials didn’t work. The login changed form my username to an old email address (which I discovered after using the “lost password” feature). When I got into the account, I saw this message:

Like ReverbNation, Sonicbids wants to try and get you to use your Facebook to sign in and have each member of the band create their own individual profiles to manage the band page. Personally, I hate this kind of single sign-on service that hinges on a Facebook profile.

The new profile also asks for more information: address, your personal info, etc. The next major problem was the URL. For example, my band’s page has always been www.sonicbids.com/theslants

However, when I tried confirming this, it would not let me continue using the username. It kept saying it was taken (even though I was the one taking it) and wanted to for me to use something else, like sonicbids.com/theslants-1 or other variations.

After talking to a few different Sonicbids reps (using their new chat feature), I was finally able to get in to the new profile management system. This is what the new dashboard looks like:

I learned that all of my band’s photos were deleted, as was our stage plot, videos, and press. Somehow, they grabbed photos from 3 years ago and used that as our image. So, I had to re-build our profile by uploading most of our content again.

USING THE NEW DASHBOARD MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

Unfortunately, some of the tools are less intuitive. For example, if you want to change your band’s profile photo, it isn’t in the “Manage Files” or “Manage Photos” section (I would recommend a quick box that allows the user to update their main photo with uploaded content). Instead, you need to go to Band Profile > Profile Image. It isn’t rocket science, but the layout is a bit confusing and requires jumping around to multiple pages if you wan to make sure your entire EPK is complete.

The profile image is a square, 250×250 so be sure to keep that in mind when trying to edit your images.

It’s based on the old system, which means it reverted back to an older profile photo that needs to be deleted if you have changed it any time in the last few years.

I talked to Sonicbids and they said that they are currently working on migrating content over but it’s definitely a good idea for you to log in right away and check our profile because there are some massive changes – and for me, most of our content is completely missing – which may affect outstanding submissions. It’s extremely frustrating.

THE LOOK, THE FEEL

As a promoter, I find the new change horrid. As I mention before, I don’t like Pinterest-styled layouts. When I see a profile, I want to see a short bio, important information, and a player without the need to click through an artist’s profile. I haven’t logged into the promoter side of the house yet to see what submissions look like (since I don’t have an open Soncbids submission at this time). In the past, it was a consolidated version of the artist profile. A Sonicbids rep says that promoters do have access to the old EPK’s, but if anyone uses your URL, they will see the new one.

The “Happening Now” feature is just a collection of the most recent activity. So if you update all of your photos, your EPK will just be full of photos that can be expanded. If you have updated your profile photo, it will be listed there – but at a distorted, low res image. The audio will not play in the order of songs that you want listed, the music player is now at the bottom of the page (below the fold).

THE FINAL WORD

Apparently, they have been working for months on the system. Unfortunately, right now I find it to be extremely frustrating. They did not notify artists or promoters in advance. The layout is confusing and too busy. I understand the intent: to try and bring in current activity, give a fresh look, etc. But it falls flat on multiple levels and now I have to waste time completely rebuilding a profile that I spent the last five years building.

On top of that, I learned that they can’t find my promoter account at all,not the 1200+ EPK submission I reviewed, commented on, and saved over the years. Hopefully, those paid submissions get recovered somehow. After today’s experience, I can say that ReverbNation Pro will be looking very good to many users now.

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20 Responses to “An Honest Review of the All-New Sonicbids EPK System”

  1. thagatanegrra December 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    I got several emails warning me that ”the new Sonicbids is coming”. They told me that the site would be down, when it would be down, and said they’d let us know when to check it out. They suggested not sending our EPKs to anyone until they said it was okay, in the last email.
    Also, I saw a post about it when I logged into my dashboard. It’s been there for months. They are supposed to be working with Backstage or something.
    I think it’s because it’s not done yet is the reason that it’s such a mess. It just went down on Sunday night.

    • Simon Tam December 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Correct, it’s been down for a few days. It was quite alarming to see that I lost every EPK every submitted to my promoter account (even the selected artists). I felt like I needed to rebuild both my artist as well as promoter profiles. They couldn’t even find half of my content (or my accounts) when I was talking to them earlier.

      • thagatanegrra December 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

        Hoping my artist account won’t be too out of whack. I can totally understand your frustration! That’s a tonne of work.

    • Simon Tam December 11, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      And I wish I got one of those emails as well – I have multiple artist profiles and a promoter account, didn’t get any notice anywhere. I log in at least 4-5 times per week, no message when logging in either.

  2. B. December 11, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    My entire gig calendar…wiped out.

    • Simon Tam December 11, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Yikes – did you have that duplicated or uploaded elsewhere (website, Reverbnation, Fanbridge, etc.)?

  3. Shawna December 16, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    THANK YOU. I feel exactly the same way. Especially this: “As a promoter, I find the new change horrid. As I mention before, I don’t like Pinterest-styled layouts. When I see a profile, I want to see a short bio, important information, and a player without the need to click through an artist’s profile.”

    If they hadn’t just taken my yearly fee last month, I’d be out right now. And I’ve been with Sonicbids for about 10 years. I don’t need another social media site. I don’t need another website. I need an EPK that’s clean and clear and Sonicbids used to be that. Now, it’s a mess.

    • Simon Tam December 16, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      You might be able to dispute the charge through your payment processor or get a partial credit. From what I understand, the customer service at Sonicbids is a bit overwhelmed right now with angry customers

  4. Kama January 6, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Hey Mate!
    Thank God for your post. I do have the same problem (not being able to access my account, and it says the url is already taken…) how did you manage to solve that one? It would be a huge help!

    Thanks very much!

    • Simon Tam January 6, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      I used the online chat function and had one of the Sonicbids representatives help fix that issue.

      • Kama January 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

        Thanks for the reply mate!

  5. Ella January 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    As an artist I can’t stand the layout. A few things I’ve noticed:
    -The search options for gigs used to be much more specific. You could specifically look for festivals for instance. Now it’s all lumped under live.
    -I can see archives of gigs I applied to that were reviewed but not ones that had not yet been reviewed. So much for those, I guess?
    -I used to have songs that were visible on my profile as well as other songs that were uploaded and available to specific promoters but not to everyone. That’s gone now so I had to delete the tracks that I didn’t want publicly available.
    -There is now only one membership option for $120, while previously there had been a lower tiered option, which I’d been thinking of switching to since I use Sonicbids less and less anyway. I have my own site, so really, the only reason to hold on is promoters who use them exclusively to take submissions, and only a handful of those are worthwhile anyway.

    In short, I don’t expect I’ll renew based on what I’ve seen. Hopefully promoters will also move on and use other platforms. As someone above stated, it’s enough to keep up with other social media. Making our press kits look like the chaos of Pinterest doesn’t help artists or promoters. An easy concise format better serves artists and promoters, all of whom are already busy and don’t need to waste time wading though this new site design.

  6. Jason Masi February 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    I’ve been trying to contact Sonicbids for over a month now with no reply. I had used them for years previously with no problems, but it’s now a mess. I renewed my membership in September, but haven’t been able to submit to any opportunities as it doesn’t recognize my account. A few weeks ago they charged another $99.95 from my credit card for the same year membership I paid for in September 2013. I have been trying to reach someone there to refund the overcharge, but I can’t get in touch with anyone. So I’ve paid nearly $200 for a $100 EPK that isn’t functioning. Pretty frustrated with Sonicbids.

    • Simon Tam February 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi, I’ve been in touch with some of their lead engineers. I’ll fwd them your comment.

    • Simon Tam February 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      Hi, I talked to their community manager and they should be reaching out to you now. Let me know if there’s anything else that I can do to help.

  7. fort myers personal injury attorney March 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    It’s difficult to find experienced people for this topic, but you sound like
    you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  8. Ben March 16, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    DON”T USE SONICBIDS!!!

    They used to be legit but as of Fall of 2013 they decided to pull a new site over our heads without any beta testing. It was a huge fail and basically nothing works. The worst part is that they absolutely REFUSE to admit to the severity of the problems, continuing to act like it will always be “fixed by Friday.” I’ve heard that line every single week for 13 weeks in a row now. And despite my plea they will not refund my money, and to boot I’m currently LOCKED OUT OF MY ACCOUNT for the third time since I subscribed.

    I know I know, it’s bad. But it gets worse..

    They finally sent me an email this week touting that they had fixed my login problem so I could sign in to their useless site… with SOMEONE ELSE’S USERNAME!

    If you need an EPK service for your band, do yourself a favor and go use: http://www.artistecard.com Their service is clean, ethical and above all FREE! They don’t have the opportunities to submit to like sonicbids but hey.. neither does sonic bids!

  9. jpusacoll June 12, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Thank you for your article, and thanks to those who’ve replied. This discussion came up when I searched “Sonicbids changes” because I have these exact same frustrations. Now that it’s several months later, have any of you stuck it out with SB, or have you moved to a different online EPK, and if so, how is your experience with it. I have a few concerns about changing to a different one: 1. I operate on SB as a small record label that manages several band accounts, so that ability is important to me (to use only one login, etc). 2. What about all the festivals out there that say you must submit via SB only. Are they changing to accept other online EPK sites? The current problems with SB are really causing me to consider bailing. Thanks for any input.

    • Simon Tam June 12, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Hi,

      Ive personally moved on. I see many opportunities now being extended to ReverbNation Pro clients. If there’s an opportunity that you must absolutely apply for through Sonicbids, you could always sign up then and then elect not to keep the service after the submission period. Unfortunately, it’s been over half a year and they still haven’t addressed basic errors that have been present since the beginning – for example, fixing my account name, addressing incorrect information in the lineup, etc.

      It also depends on your end goal: are you using Sonicbids as an EPK or as a vehicle to submit to opportunities? Because depending on your answer, it might change how you approach things.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 20 Changes Sonicbids Needs to Make Right Now | Last Stop Booking - December 14, 2013

    […] posting two in-depth reviews about the new Sonicbids EPK system (“An Honest Review” and “Review part 2”), I’ve had offers through tweets, emails, and chats by the company to […]

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