Frequently Asked Questions


What is NoiseTrade?

NoiseTrade is a platform designed to help artists build their audiences by distributing free music in exchange for fan data (email & postal code).

How did NoiseTrade start?

In 2006 one of our founders, singer/songwriter Derek Webb gave away one of his albums for free online, asking in return for a little information (name, email address, and postal code). In three month's time Webb gave away over 80,000 full downloads of his album and collected valuable information for as many new fans. As a direct result, Derek saw many sold out shows, increased merchandise and album sales, including a curious spike in sales of the very album that was given for free.

It was the massive success of this experiment that inspired Webb, with the help of a few trusted friends, to start NoiseTrade.

How does NoiseTrade work?

Artists sign up for free, then upload their music. They can then promote their giveaway on NoiseTrade or embed a custom widget on their own website or blog. Fans can download the music for free and leave a tip for any amount, as well as tell friends on Facebook, Twitter or email. Fans can also copy the widget’s code and add it to their own website or blog.

What does NoiseTrade do for artists?

NoiseTrade helps artists in a variety of ways. In the short term, you’re able to simply and freely distribute your music online, and enable your fans to virally promote it. You also capture fan information (email, country, postal code) and make money from fan’s tips.

This leads to the long term benefit. By making meaningful connections with your fans, you’ll be able to promote additional digital music, physical albums and other products. For instance, record a live performance and give it away to gather information for your fans, or give away your last album as a lead generator to promote and sell a new release. Knowing your fans’ postal codes means knowing where they live, and having the ability to promote your shows and appearances. The more you know about your fans the easier it becomes to make your living.

What does NoiseTrade do for fans?

NoiseTrade provides an alternative for people who love free music to download great content and directly support the authors. As a music fan, you can choose to help in a few ways. You can tip the artist, share their music on Facebook or Twitter, and email your friends. And you can embed NoiseTrade widgets anywhere you are online.

What is a widget?

A widget is a simple, fully functional web application that is framed into a small box. NoiseTrade widgets are a great connection point for artists and fans. They are amazingly functional yet easily portable. You can embed a NoiseTrade widget anywhere online that accepts HTML, including websites, blogs, and some social networking sites.

Can anyone sign up at NoiseTrade?

If you are an artist and have any recorded music (that you have the rights to distribute), you can sign-up at NoiseTrade and create a free account. Simply click on 'Artist Sign-up/Login’ on the top right of the front page at

Does NoiseTrade have a legal statement that I can read?

You can read NoiseTrade's legal statements here or by clicking 'Legal' at the bottom of any page. If you have any additional questions you can always get in touch with our Support team.


Why would I give music away for free?

In the ever-changing music industry, everyone is trying to figure out how to make meaningful connections with fans. Clearly there are more music fans now than any other time in history. But most artists can't find them because they're a new kind of music fans.

So this is the moment to go directly to these fans with a new approach. Rather than over-charging for digital music, give it to them for free. You'll be surprised how generous people can be when you don't require them to be, especially when they have already been given something of value. Rather than punishing fans for sharing music with their friends, reward them for it. At NoiseTrade, we believe it's time to stop applying the old rules to a new model. If artists and fans can work together, they'll find that they can all get what they want. This is the core belief that drives NoiseTrade.

How do I get started?

It's easy. Just click 'Artist Sign-up/Login' on the front page of We'll walk you through from there.

How do I make money giving music away for free?

In the short term, you make money as fans choose to tip you for your free content. And we are proud to say that you keep 80% of that money. This is much higher than any current industry standard. In addition, there is a small credit card fee ($0.30 and 5% of the 'tip jar' per transaction) that is deducted from the artist's percentage, which covers any domestic or international transaction fees. As credit card fees are constantly in flux, these percentages are evaluated semi-annually.

In the long term, you get data (email & postal codes) for every download, which you can then use to promote your other paid content, concerts, etc.

How do I get paid from fans tipping me?

When you sign up at NoiseTrade you will be asked to enter your PayPal account email, which is the email address that you have set up to receive PayPal payments. This enables NoiseTrade to transfer the money that has been generated by your content directly into your account.

What is PayPal? What if I don't have a PayPal account?

PayPal is a highly secure transaction platform. It is an internet standard for security and ease of use. If you don't have a Paypal account, go to and sign up for free.

Why does NoiseTrade ask for my phone number when signing-up?

For security reasons, we want to have at least a few ways to get in touch with you should we need to. Also, if there were any problems with your account we would want to make sure we could reach you by phone, if not by email.

How often do I get paid?

Once per month, by the 15th day of the following month.

I started the sign-up process but didn't finish. Do I need to start over from scratch?

No. As soon as you complete the first page of the sign-up process you will receive a welcome email from NoiseTrade. This email will include your artist login information. Simply login by clicking 'Artist Sign-up/Login,' where you can upload your music at any time. From there, when you login you will be able to manage your account information, update your content, view/download the fan information that you’re collecting, and automatically embed your custom widget anywhere online.

Does NoiseTrade cost money?

NoiseTrade is free. We cover our operating costs (development, bandwidth, support, etc.) by keeping 20% of the tips you collect.

What if I can't find the genre/sub-genre that I'm looking for when categorizing my music during sign-up?

Drop us a line via the 'Support' link below and we'll try and add any genre that we have overlooked.

When I add new music, how long before my content is active?

Depending on the amount of music you've uploaded and the speed of your internet connection, music could take up to 30-60 minutes to publish.

What if I misspelled my artist name or chosen NoiseTrade URL during the sign-up process?

If you need to make spelling corrections to your author name after you've signed-up, just click on 'Support' below and let us know.

How many songs can I upload?

You can upload up to 30 tracks per album. Singles, EPs, or full length albums are all welcome. And you can add as many albums as you’d like. Start with a few and add more songs or albums later, or vice versa.

I don't have a studio recording yet. How can I use NoiseTrade?

No problem. Next time you play a concert have the sound engineer record it. Exclusive material is even better. Set up a mic and record acoustic versions of a few songs. But NoiseTrade definitely makes the most impact when artists offer full albums.

What if I only want to give away music for a limited time?

Since you can adjust your content any time, you can certainly impose any time limit you wish on a particular album. Just login to your account, visit the “Albums” tab, and choose “Make Inactive.”

What if I didn't write all of the songs on my album?

That's fine. However, it is your responsibility to distribute the royalties to the appropriate parties involved in the writing of the song or composition. Please read our Terms & Conditions and NoiseTrade's Artist Agreement for more information.

What if I don't own my recorded music? Can I still upload it?

Yes, but it is your responsibility to obtain the proper permission from the owner of your music/master recordings. Please read our Terms & Conditions and NoiseTrade's Artist Agreement for more information.

Can I upload cover songs that I have recorded?

Yes, but it is the responsibility of the artist to report all sales of those songs to the appropriate parties and pay any and all necessary fees and/or royalties associated with the song. Please read our Terms & Conditions for more information.

What type of audio files can I upload to NoiseTrade?

You can only upload MP3 audio files. We highly recommend 192kbps as a quality standard.

Why aren't my songs uploading properly?

Check that your audio files are 192kbps MP3 files. If you're still having trouble, please drop us a line us via the 'Support' link below.

What quality should the album cover that I upload be?

Please upload at least a 360x360 jpeg for your cover. Regardless of the quality, please make sure your cover is a perfect square. Otherwise, you will see small black or white gaps on the sides of the cover.

What if I don't have artwork for my music?

A great cover is important for any album, especially on NoiseTrade. If you don't have a cover, consider uploading a photo or something representative of you or your music. It might be worth having a friend help you create something that could be used as an album cover for the content you upload to NoiseTrade.

I'm new to HTML. Can you help me embed my widget?

Absolutely. Just visit the album page for the music you wish to embed and click “Embed this music.”

My widget will not show correctly on my Wordpress website. Can I fix it?

You will need to use the Raw HTML plugin. The NoiseTrade widget should be placed between the [raw] [/raw] tags in the Wordpress post or page.

When I try to login it asks me for a username and password. What is my username and password?

Your username is the email address that you entered when you signed up with NoiseTrade. Your password is whatever you chose during this same sign-up process. Your username and password were also sent to you in the email you received after signing up. If you don't have that email and can't remember your password, please go through the login process and click 'Forget Your Password?' to have your password reset and sent to your email address on file.

Can I update my widget with new or different music?

Yes. You can change or add content as often as you'd like, including the ability to add as many albums as you’d like. Anytime you update existing albums, all embedded widgets automatically update with the new content.

How do I keep track of my account?

You can login anytime by clicking 'Artist Sign-up/Login'. There you'll have the ability to manage your account information, update the your content, view/download your results, and automatically embed your custom widget.

How do I get the information gathered from fans downloading my music?

After clicking 'Artist Sign-up/Login' and logging in, just click on 'Fan Data' to view live updating information about your total albums downloaded and money earned from fans’ tips, both in total and broken down by month. You can also view all of the markets where you have had more than 10 downloads of your content on your custom heat map.

This will also be where you can download a spreadsheet with all of the information gathered from fans who have downloaded your content. You can then view and filter this information to learn more about your fans. This information can also be imported into most web-based email services or email software programs for email list management.

What can I do with fans' information?

Once a fan gives you their information in exchange for your music you may use it to contact them about upcoming concerts, new album releases, and other merchandise you have available. However, we ask you to respect your fans enough to remove them from your email list if they request a removal. The information is yours, but we ask you to use it responsibly (approximately one email a month is typically appropriate).

Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, and NoiseTrade's Artist Agreement for more information.

I want to put my new email list to good use. Can you recommend any web-based email services?

We wholeheartedly recommend the good folks at Emma ( for all of your web-based email list management needs. Other options include Mailchimp, Constant Contact, iContact and AWeber.

If I'm giving away my music on NoiseTrade, should I even bother setting up digital distribution through various DSPs online, like iTunes and eMusic?

You absolutely should. While NoiseTrade is an innovative platform for music marketing and distribution, it is primarily a tool to help you make more meaningful connections with your fans. You should ensure that your fans can find your music wherever they go looking for it.

I'm signed to a record label. Can I still use NoiseTrade?

Yes. However, you'll want to tell your record label about NoiseTrade and let them sign you up. All copyright and master use clearances will need to be handled by your label. Many record labels have found NoiseTrade to be a highly effective and inexpensive way to promote their artists. You also might consider recording acoustic or live versions of songs that you own the rights to, and uploading those recordings to NoiseTrade.

If I'm an artist manager or label, can I manage multiple artists on NoiseTrade?

Yes, you can sign up as a manager or label -- which in turn allows you to manage multiple artists under one login. Once you create a manager or label account, you are also able to merge existing artist accounts under your account.

Someone is impersonating me and has uploaded my music to NoiseTrade. What do I do?

Contact us immediately via the 'Support' link below or email us at to resolve any disputes. Please read our Terms & Conditions for more information.

What rights does NoiseTrade have in relation to my music?

NoiseTrade only has the non-exclusive right to distribute your music. You can revoke that right from NoiseTrade at any time by canceling your account. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, and NoiseTrade’s Artist Agreement for more information.

What if I want to stop using NoiseTrade?

You can cancel your NoiseTrade account at any time. However, you may also choose to simply make your account “inactive” then turn it back on whenever you're ready. Your username and password will remain the same during this time, and we will hold on to both your account’s content and the fan information that you've collected. Once you reactivate your account, all of your embedded widgets will automatically begin working again and your account will be accessible for updating by clicking 'Artist Sign-up/Login' and logging in.


Is my credit card information safe with NoiseTrade?

Yes. NoiseTrade does not store or even see your credit card information. We use Authorize.NET for our credit card transactions. Since 1996, Authorize.NET has been a leader in secure and reliable online payment transactions. For more information, please visit

How do I 'unzip' the file that I received from NoiseTrade?

Your music will download as a ".zip" file. You should first try double-clicking the file. If your computer already has software that can unzip your file, it will unzip automatically. If not, you can you can easily download software that will unzip your music.

Are there restrictions on the music I downloaded from NoiseTrade?

Absolutely not. There is no DRM (digital rights management) on any NoiseTrade music, which means your are free to put it on your computer, your iPhone/iPod/iPad, or any other device that is MP3 compatible. However, the artist's music that you have downloaded through NoiseTrade is intended for your own personal use. So rather than giving copies to your friends, help support the artist by promoting their free music to your friends on social networks, encouraging them to download their own copy. Please read our Terms & Conditions for more information.

Please read our terms & conditions for more information.

What happens to the info I enter for free content at NoiseTrade?

If you download an artist’s music on NoiseTrade, your information goes through NoiseTrade to that artist. That way, they can let you know when they have new content coming out or when they will be in your area. You can always request to be unsubscribed from the artist's list by contacting that artist directly. You can unsubscribe from NoiseTrade’s email list by clicking on "opt out" at the bottom of any of our email newsletters.

I did everything required and still haven't received my download code. What do I do?

If you went through the process on an album page and didn't receive an email with your download code, check that your email application didn't mark and file your NoiseTrade email as spam. You may want to add "" to your contacts list so emails from us don't get caught in your spam folder.

If none of this works, please go back to the album page and try again.

While I was downloading my music from NoiseTrade, my download was interrupted. What do I do?

Just go back to the email that you received from NoiseTrade with your download code and click the download link again. This link will work for 5 days during which you can download your content. If you're having problems beyond this, please drop us a line via the 'Support' link below.

After tipping an artist I see ‘recurring’ on my bank statement. Why?

This means that we didn’t request the CCV number on your credit card. We will not charge your card again. Please review our credit card processor’s reason for this: