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Wednesday
May202009

Popular Music Think Tank Posts

Tuesday
May192009

Tighten the low end of your mix with a frequency analyzer

This is the second in my series of “mix tips” articles. You can read the first here.

Most mix engineers don’t hear the bottom octave (20-40 Hz) because their monitors can’t produce it. Unless your room is 300 square feet or larger, and professionally tuned, adding a subwoofer will probably do more harm than good. Whether or not you can hear it, it’s important to balance the sub bass with the rest of the mix. You want deep full tone from the bass and a healthy “chest thump” from the kick without blowing out any speakers.

A common DIY solution is to simply roll off the whole mix with a highpass filter (HPF, also known as a low cut or LC), but that’s ugly and imprecise. Even if the frequency and slope of the filter leave an appropriate amount of sub, the EQ will color the mix, usually in an undesirable way. Instead, we want to sculpt the low end on a track-by-track basis, balancing out the sub bass and shaping competing elements to produce a clear and powerful foundation for your mix.

Click to read more ...

Monday
May182009

Don’t go over the self-promotion cliff; crush your local radio station instead.

The more that I read about the latest and greatest music marketing trends, the more I want to stand up on my desk and shout “don’t go over the cliff with the rest of the lemmings!” But, given the current hype and the herd mentality that artists usually exhibit, twenty-four months from now 5,000,000 artists will be using Twitter and fan relationship management tools to attempt to acquire fans and/or to boost average-revenue-per-fan (ARPF). When I think of the prospects of millions of artists traveling down this road, ARPF is exactly what I want to do. Three years from now, most artists will be disappointed and a new crop of artists will be jumping off a different cliff altogether (remember the MySpace cliff?).

The famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is; a great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” In this post I want to uncover the obstacles to self-promoting music and suggest an alternate path that will take you where the puck is going to be.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May142009

Basic Marketing Principles For Artists - Part 1: Increase Your Fanbase

As many of you know my company Cyber PR specializes in Internet Marketing, Social Media and PR. I am an avid Internet Marketing student and I gather the nuggets I learn from my studies of musicians.

I recently spent two intense days in Los Angeles, where I attended an Internet marketing retreat led by my mentor, Ali Brown. I belong to her mastermind group and participate in her yearlong program.

It was a whirlwind, and the core principles I learned were both basic and critically important.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May092009

What makes a good "manager" in the DIY world?

The meaning and role(s) of a “manager” have changed dramatically over the last decade, as the traditional CD/Radio/Retail business model has given way to the “new” music business. Traditionally, a manager managed an artist’s efforts to get signed to a label, and once signed, he/she managed the relationship between the artist and the label. The label itself managed marketing, distribution, artist development (ah, the good ol’ days), radio promotion, producer and writer relations, etc.

But given the state of labels today, the unsigned artist must assume that he/she will never be signed - and build a career accordingly. A traditional manager is often unable and ill-equipped to successfully manage and develop an artist’s career in this new “DIY” environment.

Click to read more ...

Friday
May082009

Is Jango payola?

old radio

My last article on Jango sparked spirited discussions on the Just Plain Folks and CD Baby forums, and in the comments. Words like “scam” and “payola” are recklessly thrown about. We need to dispel these unfair and inflammatory accusations before we can have an honest debate.

Is it a scam?

Absolutely not! It is a service that delivers everything it promises. Jango sells airplay, not results. To put it in perspective, I’ve spent $4,000 on Taxi since becoming a member in 1997. I’ve had over 100 forwards, but no deals. I’ve spent $7,000 on traditional radio promotion, with literally nothing to show for it. That doesn’t mean that Taxi and traditional radio promotion are scams. They just haven’t been effective (YMMV).

Is it payola?

Click to read more ...

Monday
May042009

What artists should know about Jango

Would you pay $1 for a new fan? Would you pay 2 cents to have your song played to a fan of your favorite band? I would, and did, with Jango Airplay. Jango offers free internet radio that plays listener-selected artists alongside similar artists. Tell it which artists and songs you like and dislike, and it adjusts accordingly. Basic social networking features are included, allowing listeners to share music and compare tastes. Jango Airplay lets artists buy their way into Jango’s recommendation engine, promising guaranteed airplay alongside your pick of popular artists. You can buy 1000 plays for $30, 2000 plays for $50, or 5000 plays for $100. I started with 5000 plays, and was so encouraged by the results that I spent another $200 for 10,000 more.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May022009

Is A&R Still Necessary In Today's Music Industry?

In the olden days, A&R was king in the music industry. Young, hip guys in street clothes found the latest “big thing” in music. The A&R rep romanced said band, persuaded them to sign an exclusive contract (which still exists today), hand-picked tracks for placement on albums released by said band, and more importantly selected which tracks from the album were to be the “singles.”

Said band’s “singles” went on to get major radio play, the radio play led to press coverage and both the press coverage and radio play led to said band’s albums selling off the shelves. It was a GREAT thing to have competent A&R reps with a “good ear” back in the hay days of the music biz when music was an art form above all else.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr302009

Forget MySpace: How To Build The Ultimate Website To Interact With Your Fans

Being a musician these days can be wonderful as well as a daunting - there are so many opportunities out there (especially on the web) to distribute your music, it can be very easy to forget what the ultimate goal is - to acquire new fans!

That being said, many musicians are not very business or tech savvy and can get lost in all the networks and tools everyone is raging about. Should I concentrate on MySpace? WTF is Twitter? How can I get on iTunes?

While all of those tools are wonderful opportunities for musicians to connect with their potential audience, they are just tools, and not a means to building something that’s long term; you need to use them, but your ultimate goal should be to use those tools to get new fans to come to YOUR own website.

Why is your site so important? Isn’t it just the same as a MySpace page?

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr282009

The New Music Gatekeepers: Fans & Workload

It’s the most common frustration I hear uttered by independent artists and promoters: The workload.

How can I find the time to do all this social networking and guerrilla marketing stuff?

I’ve got so much on my plate already, how am I supposed to add even more to my overflowing to-do list?

I hear you. I know. And ISN’T IT WONDERFUL?

Huh? What in Jehovah’s name is so wonderful about being overburdened by all that needs to be done to succeed with music?

I have a good answer. Let me explain …

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr232009

Who owns Music Think Tank?

After a little more than a year in existence, here’s the proposed ownership structure for Music Think Tank. Please feel free to weigh in.

The goal of this structure is to attract smart music industry thinkers and writers that want to build a brand with a group of like-minded individuals.

Sometime this summer or sooner, we will announce the formal ownership structure.

Here are the proposed equity splits:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr222009

8 reasons to release a follow-up EP

You’ve just released the album of your life. The songs are honed to perfection, the production is top notch, and you found your true voice as an artist. How can you possibly top it with your next release? I suggest you don’t even try.

Instead, follow it up with leftovers. You may call them outtakes, b-sides, or even rejects. You can come right out and admit that it’s not your best stuff. Your fans will still want it, and some will delight in what they consider hidden gems.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr212009

Defining the Music Industry Crisis

To every problem there is already a solution whether you know it or not.

-Grenville Kleiser (1868-1953)

With this in mind, I would like to attempt to identify the main problems that have threatened to destroy the vision that was born on the streets of Tin Pan Alley. I urge readers to add to the list and help me begin this journey towards resolution.

11 of the issues that make up the current Music Industry Crisis.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr122009

How to use iTunes to drive up your iTunes revenue

I have a friend in Brooklyn who is an accomplished artist/producer, doing astonishingly well selling his music on iTunes. Since iTunes is where the vast majority of online music is purchased I asked him if he would sit down with me and explain to me how he promotes himself exclusively from within the walls of iTunes.

I was enthralled by what he had to say. It turns out being a top seller on iTunes is not just a random thing that occurs. You must promote yourself within the walls of iTunes just like you have to promote yourself everywhere else.

My friend asked not to be named and so it is not revealed (it turns out the top indie promoters on iTunes are very competitive).

He took me on a step-by step breakdown on how to get started effectively promoting yourself on iTunes. This is a labor-intensive process but it yields fruitful results.  My friend earns hundreds of dollars a month from his iTunes sales.

Click to read more ...