SmartLinks: A Guide for Bands, Artists
Being able to quickly and easily direct potential fans to your music is key to contemporary music marketing. The most effective way to do this is through smartlinks. In this piece, we look at the various features offered by some of the best smartlink services available for artists and musicians to utilize.
Guest post by Andrew Apanov of the Dotted Music Blog
Today it is hard to imagine any serious music marketing campaign without using a short link that leads to a slick landing page with multiple direct links to digital stores or streaming services. This is what music marketers call a ‘smartlink’, although sometimes other names like a song link, a radial link, etc. can be seen as well. By routing fans to their favorite services, smartlinks help to significantly increase conversion rates and drive more downloads and streams.
First made purely for music releases, smartlinks can now be used for concerts, tours and even podcasts; not to mention special types of smartlinks for pre-saves and pre-adds on streaming services. Moreover, they help artists better understand their fans (and this is what the ‘smart’ part in the name stands for): what countries or cities they are from, what stores they like best, how they discover their music, etc.
In this overview, we compare several popular smartlink platforms with respect to what their free and paid tiers provide to artists and bands. Any business and enterprise tiers are left out of this overview.
Linkfire (linkfire.com) is probably the biggest smart link platform to date used by all major labels. Until recently, they had no Free tier and their cheapest option cost $25/month. Today, however, they have become more indie-friendly by adding an ad-supported Free tier and a $10/mo Starter tier in addition to their $25/mo Pro tier.
The major advantage of Linkfire’s Free tier is that one can create an unlimited number of links including release links, ticket links, and merchandise links. Free users can also set custom link names.
The limitations of the Free tier include ads on landing pages, no custom link order, no pre-saves, insights limited to 200 visits a month per link, no export for insights, no custom domains and subdomains and no support at all. Free users cannot add custom links (for example, to their own merch shop).
The pros of the Starter tier in comparison to the Free one include: ad-free landing pages, a higher number of logged link visits (1,000/month) and custom subdomains as well as support via email.
However, like in the Free tier, the Starter tier user cannot customize link order, has no pre-saves, no export for insights, no custom store links and custom domains.
The Pro tier eliminates some of the cons of the Starter one. It allows custom link order and one custom domain name. In addition, it logs 10,000 link visits a month. But it doesn’t allow adding pre-saves and custom links. These features are available only on more expensive business tiers.
The table summarizes the major features of these Linkfire tiers.
Feature.fm (feature.fm) is a music advertising platform that also offers smartlinks as a part of their tools.
Like Linkfire, they have three general tiers for artists, although the paid tiers, labeled ‘Artist’ and ‘Pro Artist’, are almost twice more expensive than Linkfire if paid monthly, $19 and $39, respectively.
The major difference of Feature.fm’s Free tier from that of Linkfire is that the former has no ads. It also allows pre-saves, but they cannot be used for gathering fan emails. Unlike Linkfire, Feature.fm allows logging unlimited number of link visits, but the time frame is limited to 7 days. The free tier also has chat support.
The paid tiers of Feature.fm differ from the free one in the following respects:
- They allow gathering emails via pre-saves, 50 and 150, respectively.
- They offer longer time-frames for audience insights, 28 days and 90 days, respectively.
- Audience insights can be exported.
- They offer 1 subdomain.
The Pro Artist tier also allows adding 1 retargeting pixel.
The table summarizes the major features of these Feature.fm tiers.
This smartlink service (band.link) is not well known outside Russia, where it is the default one for the majority of artists there. However, a number of features not found in the rest of the smartlink platforms makes it an interesting alternative. Moreover, their website has an English interface too.
Like Linkfire and Feature.fm, BandLink offers artists three tiers to choose from. The paid tiers, labeled Indie and Star, are priced similarly to Linkfire, $10/mo and $25/mo, respectively (if one pays for a year, it is a bit cheaper than Linkfire).
One of the major cons of these tiers is a limited number of smartlinks that one can create. The free tier offers only 10 links, while the paid ones offer 30 and 250 links, respectively. The only way to increase your number of links is to buy them for one time payment (or choose a more expensive tier for labels).
Like that of Linkfire, BandLink’s Free tier is ad-supported. However, it allows custom link order, custom link names, pre-saves (no emails gathering) and email support. One can also add custom links, but no custom logo is allowed, only several default ones.
In addition to typical smart landing pages, BandLink offers a quick to setup one page artist website featuring description, discography, Youtube videos, Soundcloud tracks, social feed, etc. (something similar to what the service Band Page used to offer). It can also be used as an EPK.
The table below summarizes the major features of the BandLink tiers.
Odesli (formerly Songlink)
This smartlink service (odesli.co) is quite different from the previous ones mentioned. First of all, it offers two types of Free tiers, called Automated and Standard. The main difference between them is that the Automated tier requires no login – just enter one link to your release or its UPC and the service will automatically generate a smartlink. The cons of this tier are obvious – one cannot customize anything and have any insights on how well this smartlink performs.
The standard tier which requires signing up, eliminates some of these cons, for example, it allows certain customizations (adding a YouTube embed, adding custom stores) and performance insights.
Another thing that sets this smartlink service apart from the other ones, is that its Premium tier works on a per smartlink page basis, i.e. you pay for access to premium features for each smartlink individually. Their premium features are not numerous though, they include everything in the Standard tier plus custom link names, unlimited custom stores and adding a Facebook pixel.
The table below summarizes the major features of the Odesli tiers.
This little overview of the smartlink platforms is, of course, far from being exhaustive as there are many other similar services. However, it might be a good start for any artist or band out there who wants to take their marketing efforts to a new level. Just try one of the services’ free options, play with it, and then choose the one that suits your needs and budget the best.