how did fans discover “Brad Sucks”?

This forum thread on bradsucks.comnet about where community members first heard his music is a great source of data on how internet musicians should prioritize distribution outlets.

A quick undisciplined survey of the results:

  • 14 soundtrack (Brad Sucks’ music was used as a soundtrack to a video, and the forum poster followed a link in the video back to the source of the music. The video was usually but not always on YouTube).
  • 10 recommendation (boingboing, webjay, william gibson blog, friend to friend, press)
  • 6 reaper (catalog licensed by Magnatune for inclusion with remixing software)
  • 4 remix (A remixer used Brad Sucks’ music and the forum poster followed a link in the remix back to the original).
  • 4 Magnatune site
  • 3 podcast (Brad Sucks’ music was used in a podcast).
  • 3 music recommendation social networks (This category is not exclusive)
  • 2 webcast
  • 1 search (accidental discovery)

Almost of these have to do with the free culture subculture associated with things like Creative Commons and Ogg Vorbis. Having a social niche has been a good thing for Brad Sucks.

Given that Brad Sucks is on the Magnatune netlabel, the company was effective at creating attention. Discovery via soundtrack, Reaper, a remix, the Magnatune site, and podcasts are all more or less from Magnatune’s distribution, licensing and promotion. Magnatune had economies of scale that an individual band wouldn’t have, since its investment in a single distribution outlet applies to all of its acts at the same time. This suggests that netlabels do have a role to play in the long term.

Recommendations in various outlets added up, but no one outlet had a big payoff.

Having the music bundled with Reaper was a beautiful move. It created exposure to remixers who got it with the software, and when they published their remixes they created a secondary wave of exposure to their listeners.

Even though the free culture subculture was a big factor, hardly anyone bought Ogg Vorbis or FLAC and Brad has dropped it.

Having music hitch a ride with other distributable projects is an incredible magnifier of attention. Soundtracks, reaper, remix, podcasts, and webcasts all bundle Brad Sucks, and when a third party includes your work their own distribution projects contribute to your distribution. Bundling creates network effects.