A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Rob Shelby, a fellow musician and entrepreneur. He’s created a great new tool for musicians called kNerd (pronounced “nerd”). Dubbed as “your virtual band manager,” the online platform has a lot of helpful features, including the ability to post updates to social networks and an electronic press kit function. Rob was gracious enough to answer a few questions about kNerd:
1. What is kNerd?
kNERD is a tool that makes the lives of band members easier. It updates the many of the band’s social networking site, it invites their friends and fans to shows, it gives stats about a band’s fans and songs, it is a digital delivery system and a band’s profile also acts as an interactive LinkedIN type EPK. Profiles also act as an EPK for producers, musicians and engineers. So now they’ll get their due credit!
For fans, it’s one site that you can get updates and listen to albums of your favorite bands. However, because kNERD is new and we don’t license music from anyone, we are strictly focusing on bands. We aren’t begging them to join, we are simply trying to make it useful for them, so they’ll want to join on their own.
2. Who is kNerd for?
Like I said, kNERD is for Bands right now. But when you “fan” a band on kNERD, it gives you the option to update your facebook (and other) profile that you are a fan of that band. This helps promote that band! In the next few months we’ll be focusing on music fans more.
3. How did you come up with the idea for kNerd?
Seriously, I was sitting with my laptop listening to The Rentals. They are one of my favorite bands. I wanted to see what all the old members were up to. It took me hours of googling, wikipedia-ing and reading blogs to see where they all are now. I thought about how a chart would look from Weezer, That Dog, The Rentals, The Haden sister etc would look like. So the original idea for kNERD was a bit different from what it turned into. But I’m hoping what it turned into actually solves problems that musicians face.
4. kNerd has some really powerful features, especially the search engine. Tell us more about that (how does it work, what kinds of things will users search for, etc.)
kNERD’s search engine is only 1% of what I want it to be. You can create pretty unique searches by using copyright, location, genre, and person and band names. You can then sort the results by band, person, song or album. The search also shows connectedness between artists. So if you want to see how a producer is connected to another person or band, simply type “connect:” then the 2 person’s names.
Because the search engine is so young, I’d rather not go that deeper into it. I’m sure readers of this article will find a bug or 2!
5. What other features should we know about?
My number 1 goal right now is to automate everything a band does. Even account creation. Inviting you fans and friends to shows should be automatic. You do that every week! Telling your fans what you are up to is very important. Anything you add to kNERD, whether it’s shows, news, or anything else, it will update your other social sites for you. We are adding more sites every week!
kNERD also offers fans a calendar that shows all the concerts that are happening in their area over the next 2 weeks. Yeah, there’s a few other sites that do that, but why not use kNERD instead? You can learn about new music or listen to your saved playlists while you see if there’s any concerts that interest you.
6. How does kNerd differ from Reverbnation?
I’m not really sure who Reverbnation benefits. 100% of every band I talk to says “We’ve used reverbnation and we don’t even know why”. kNERD is free for musicians and fans. Reverbnation upcharges for features that a band actually benefits from. kNERD also connects musicians together much better than reverbnation or any other site. It’s not a genre or a place or who toured with who that makes a band similar enough to a band I already like and should be recommended. It is the people behind the music. The producer, the engineer, the musicians… Producers have a certain style that many fans don’t even know that they love. Reverbnation is also a very ugly site. I feel like they are trying to shove 100 bands down my throat. If you log into kNERD, it starts you out with a random playlists. If you want to listen to another band, you obviously can. But we aren’t going to recommend “Who’s hot”. What does that even mean? Is this a popularity contest? Who’s hot to one person will be completely different to another. kNERD will recommend side projects, new bands, or older albums you may have missed that one of your favorite musicians, engineers or producers is part of.
7. I really like your electronic press kit feature. How does kNerd differ from Sonicbids?
Sonicbids charges musicians. Also I’ve been told by more than a handful of venues that they instantly throw out anything from Sonicbids because it’s usually the lowest common dominator. But to answer your question kNERD shows the PERSON’s entire history. Not just the band’s self written “press”. Most press kits are like resumes of people who have little job experience. A kNERD profile let’s you listen and read about the experience of each band member. A band’s profile also shows you all their other sites, shows, where their fans are, and much more.
8. kNerd is still in beta. What are some features you all plan adding in future?
I don’t want to answer that yet simply because kNERD is just me! I have a few people helping me, but I don’t have an angel investor or VC company like Artist Data, Sonic Bids, MySpace, Reverbnation and all those other pointless sites have. I’m just a musician/producer that taught himself to program to better the lives of other musicians, engineers, producers and hopefully the whole music scene. I keep refering to kNERD as “we” not only because of the 2 amazing people that helped with the difficult programming and design, but the many of bands that love the site and give me suggestions and feedback everyday.
But I can tell you, that with 3 or 4 features that I’m building for kNERD right now, it is going to make booking shows for bands much easier. It is not only going to level the playing field for bands that don’t have much money to promote themselves with, but it will also help the music that the population finds attractive to the top so we don’t have to sift through so much garbage to find a gem like on MySpace.
9. Here’s a scenario: I’m in a band. We’re just starting to get a following in our local area and want to spread our wings. We’ve just finished our first EP and launched our website. We’re also on Twitter and Facebook. Walk me through how can we use kNerd as our virtual band manager.
Simple! You login as yourself with Facebook connect. You click “Add Band”, type the band’s name, and kNERD will search the internet for everything you’ve ever done. It will then link up your facebook and twitter for you and create your albums on kNERD for you. The only “leg work” you need to do is upload your songs and invite your fans to kNERD. Once you do that, which should only take a few minutes, and you keep using kNERD to update all your social networking sites, you will start saving time. You will also see where your fans are, what songs they like the best, what cities you should book a tour to etc. Also, since kNERD treats each person as a person (unlike myspace that forces you to login as a band), each separate band member can answer fan mail from kNERD and help market the band all from one site.
10. kNerd is free now. Do you plan on going to the freemium model in the future? If not, how do you plan on being profitable?
We plan on never charging bands or musicians. Yeah, I do need to pay my rent and hosting fees. So soon we will start hosting ads and having sponsored emails. Not spam, just a “this email was sponsored by” at the bottom of each email. I have a few other tricks up my sleeve, but like I said before, I’m afraid to talk about them before they are completed. I don’t want other music sites to set their targets on trying to squash me. Let’s face it. I’m trying to do something good. I’m completely honest about my intensions. Are reverbnation, sonicbids and artistdata really trying to help musicians? Or are they trying to profit off of the starving artist?
We’re looking forward to kNerd’s growth as a useful tool for today’s working musician. Make sure to check it out at kNerd.com.