In the 1989 Doctor Who episode "Ghost Light", a highly advanced alien being had been sent early in the life of Earth to catalogue all species on the planet. Many aeons later, this poor creature is still on Earth, frustrated because, by the time he completes the catalogue, all the species have changed into something quite different and he must start all over. Evolution has been his undoing. To review e-junkie is like that. Each time you think you have the site all figured out, some new feature is added and the site evolves into something newer and better. Like that alien being, I keep having to go back and take another look.
I am not by profession a technician or programmer and I don't really understand a lot of the technical ins and outs of making a commerce website work. I am however, a very experienced marketer with a strong background in broadcast and print media as well as advertising and promotional agencies for more than forty years. Throughout that time, I have also been a working independent artist promoting my own writing, photography, and music as well as that of others. When I undertook to review the new e-junkie website, I decided to review not how well it is or is not designed as a technical program but how well it does or does not work as a marketing tool for the independent artist who uses it. As my own artistic focus over the past few years has been on making and selling music, I chose to come to the site less as an objective critic and more as a musician with a CD to sell.
Over the past dozen or so years, I've seen a plethora of new websites crop up where independent musicians can post songs to market and sell or just to present their talents to the world. As one of those independent artists (with my group Poem de Terre), I've signed up for and evaluated many of these sites. Some are well designed and very user-friendly, and manage to grow and prosper, helping some but not most of their musician clients to do the same. Others, like delicate desert flowers, blossom in a flash of colour and promise, then wither and die. A common theme is that, after these websites are set up initially, very little if anything changes or improves. This is not the case with e-junkie, where growth and change seems constant.
Not just with websites, but with computer programs in general, technicians who may never actually use such a program design something that's very clever and flashy but often with a learning curve like Everest and not user friendly at all. Independent music websites tend toward either this or the opposite extreme where too little technical know-how in the initial design has led to a disappointing lack of functionality. Music is not the focus at e-junkie, and this may be what saves the site from these sorts of problems. This is a site designed to sell something, anything. That something can be digital or it can be hard-copy. Sure, it can be a music CD, but it can also be just about anything else you can imagine. This is, first and foremost, a commerce website.
Because a website has some depth and complexity, I decided to take my time in evaluating e-junkie. I just wanted to take some time to explore all facets, and I really didn't expect much to change over time. In fact, every time I visit the site, I find something new and useful has been added. The site had and has an easy sign-up procedure, including a free one-week trial period for those who may want to check out the features first. In the beginning, though, I found that many of the instructions were unclear and the learning curve far too complex for anyone not experienced on the web. Over a couple of months, that all changed dramatically.
Besides continually adding practical, easy-to-use features to its own site, e-junkie has been busy forging alliances with related online services that complement its own. The result is an extremely flexible, easy to learn and use, universal marketing and commerce environment for the independent online marketer of just about any product or service. As an independent artist with music products to sell, I can see where this could be an extremely valuable service.
In fact, there are so many available services and tools on this website that I won't even attempt to describe them here. However, I do recommend that any serious independent marketer should visit e-junkie and see what's available. Some available features include no setup fee, unlimited transactions with no transaction fee, no bandwidth limit, product storage and delivery, inventory management, four different methods for your customers to pay, a variety of free shopping cart options, including use of your own cart, automated delivery of download sales, tax and shipping calculator, and much more.
According to e-junkie, through this site you can sell products on your own website, eBay, MySpace, Google Base, Yahoo Stores! and other websites. Products and services offered for sale can include e-books, mp3 tracks and CD releases, software, icons, fonts, artwork, phone cards, event tickets, posters, books… in fact, almost anything.
There is a cost if you want all this, a monthly fee ranging from $5.00 per month to $125.00 per month depending on the amount of hosting space your products will require. If your products will need more than 999 mb, then there's an additional fee of $20.00 per gb per month. Given what e-junkie has to offer, these rates seem quite reasonable.
As with everything in life, you don't get nothing for nothing. To use a service such as e-junkie, you have to be a dedicated marketer and self-promoter. You have to put in time and energy and probably invest a bit of money at your end. If you just sign up, add a product or two, and then wait for the sales to roll in, they won't. The tools are there, but you'll have to use them effectively for this service to work to full potential. This could use up a lot of your time and energy, but it could also be worth it in the long run.
Independent musicians should know that this is not like many music sites that have preformatted pages where you just paste in your album cover art and a list of songs with mp3 playback. It's essential that you take the time to learn how to use the features on this website effectively and it would be a good idea to also develop a strong band website to complement your efforts. Reading a good book on effective marketing will also help you a lot.
I think that's about it. No, wait! It's evolving again…
If you'd like to evaluate this service for yourself, go to e-junkie.com. Even if you decide not to sign up, you'll find it an education in what's available to the independent marketer these days.