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Tuesday
Apr072009

Crime and Corruption: Recognizing Unethical Practices in the Music Business

The music business has always been riddled with unspoken scandals and juicy secrets of corruption. We see topics of shortcuts, bribery, exploitation, scams, and fraud in the news frequently whether it is from the U.S. or international businesses. The music business is no different from any other business in this world; they are out to make a profit, which is the most important aspect that motivates those businesses. What drives those businesses to make profit is self-interest, which is also the factor behind all the corruption of the music business; sometimes the achievement of this profit is executed by any means possible. The following is an attempt to explain the different means of making that profit in the music business when ethical tactics are just not enough.

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Monday
Apr062009

Songwriters are taking it on the chin. What’s the solution?

In January copyright law (technology and music) expert Chris Castle posted a great interview with Rick Carnes the President of the Songwriter’s Guild.

Carnes speaks for the songwriters that are getting screwed in today’s tech-driven, share-don’t-care world of music and celebrity labels. Songwriters “don’t sell t-shirts, don’t play shows, and don’t have all the other income streams available to them” (as the performers do). They are getting “remixed out of culture”. As a consequence, “there are fewer and fewer original professional songwriters around every year.” “The days of the ‘stand alone’ songwriter appear to be over.” “Songwriters were the number one loser of income in the US economy in 2004”. “We (songwriters) make our money on record sales and radio airplay. Or, we USED to make our money on record sales. Illegal downloading ended that. Now we are looking for new jobs.”

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Wednesday
Apr012009

The End of the Music Album as The Organizing Principle

It doesn’t seem that long ago since Radiohead did what was once unimaginable - release an album without being signed to a major record company. On the long march to digital ubiquity as the means of music delivery Radiohead avoided the tar pit that seems to be major label thinking and came out clear winners. Yes, they resorted later to releasing the album as a good old CD into regular retail distribution but they were pioneers and were soon followed with great success by Nine Inch Nails and to lesser success by many others. Both these bands had an understanding of what their fans wanted [price level choice, quality and special packaging] and both bands understood the power of the internet for marketing purposes and direct reach. [NB: Although I believe that the digital music file will rule the day, vinyl still has a role to play and I’ll get to that later.]

The most interesting part of this experiment [which at the time, I would argue it was] was not only that it was wildly successful but it laid the groundwork for what I have coined the end of the organizing principle. In other words I suggest that we are now seeing the end of the album-length work as the permenant work, the everlasting body of work that represents the pinnacle of an artists’ creativity. I am fully expecting to hear the howls of derision over this but bear with me.

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Wednesday
Apr012009

Artist will put a tag cloud on her back to raise money for her next album.

Coming on the heals of Bob Baker’s latest Music Think Tank post on Fan Funded Models, here’s another viable alternative to consider:

An artist from Los Angeles is offering to turn her back into a giant Tag Cloud to raise money for her next album.

Artist Grasmaand First told Music Think Tank that the tag cloud on her back will generate over $100,000 to fund her next album. $40,000 will be used for production and the remaining $60,000 will go toward promotion.

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Wednesday
Apr012009

Is a Last.fm Powerplay campaign right for you?

In my previous post on Last.fm, I promised to follow up with the results of my Powerplay campaigns, which target a set number of radio plays to a particular group of users. Four packages are currently offered: $20 for 100 plays, $100 for 500 plays, $200 for 1,000 plays, and $400 for 2,000 plays. Since the per-play price is the same ($0.20), I opted for the cheapest.

Powerplay results

I record electronic pop with hints of classical piano under the name Color Theory. To help determine my target demographic, I created three Powerplay campaigns, staggered over three weeks.

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Monday
Mar302009

iTunes and AIG? Don’t think so.

Well…what is one to make of this?

ITunes’ announcement to increase prices on many hits singles and selected classic tracks to $1.29 while possibly lowering the price on some older tracks below the current $0.99 threshold has created quite the stir in some circles.

Firstly, let me be clear…in all my many years in the music (and record) industry, I never…repeat…never understood how uniform pricing made much sense. That Springsteen, 50 cent, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson and U2 albums and singles sport the same pricing as the latest freshly-signed hopefuls, be they folk singers, new age harp players or country and western swingers really takes some effort to explain.

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Monday
Mar302009

Add MP3s to your Music Think Tank posts

Authors and Contributors can now add MP3’s to their posts on Music Think Tank.  If you would like to add an MP3 to your post, click here for instructions.

Please make sure you have legal permission to upload a file to enable playback and free downloading from Music Think Tank.

Anyone that wants to post news or stories (including MP3s) can do so on MTT Open.  The registration process is simple and quick.

Here’s a song to try.  The Fears by Jediah.  Playback is powered by the Yahoo Media Player.

Readers using RSS will have to click over to Music Think Tank to try it.

Monday
Mar302009

EMI is screwed. Utterly screwed.

An article on All Things Digital caught my eye this morning. At face value, it’s just another one of those reports about people coming and going at the top end of the major record labels. Douglas Merrill, formerly CIO of Google, then Head of Digital for EMI, has left the building.

And it’s not surprising that Merrill was unable to singlehandedly reverse the fortunes of the label. He could have had the greatest strategy in the world - but the end goal was the wrong one, so his efforts would have been to no avail regardless of what he did.

And it’s this line from the internal memo at EMI that gives the game away:

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Wednesday
Mar252009

Fan-Funding & Donation Sites: 9 Ways to Raise Money for Your Next Music Project

Are you ready to record a new album, produce a video, or take on an ambitious new music project? But you don’t have the cash on hand to make it happen now?

Do what a growing number of smart artists have done in recent years: ask your fans to contribute!

The band Marillion reportedly raised $725,000 by pre-selling its Anoraknophobia double-CD album before it was ever recorded. Jill Sobule raised more than $80,000 from about 500 fans to record her California Years album, due out in 2009.

But even lesser known artists have had success with this fan-funded business model. Take a look at what these indie acts have done to involve their fans in music fundraising:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar172009

Keep your mixes consistent by using a reference

Like most of you, I work a “day job” to pay the bills. I run my own CD mastering business by the name of Resonance Mastering. Unlike other mastering houses, I don’t believe in “corrective mastering.” If I hear a problem with a mix, I’ll ask the client to go back and fix it! Many clients routinely hire me for mix consultation, in which I offer detailed suggestions on each track in order to fine-tune their release before mastering. I run into the same problems again and again, so I find myself offering up the same solutions, which I’ll present here over the course of four articles.

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Sunday
Mar152009

Digital Music Becomes (more) Rhizomatic: Evolutionary Traits of The Music Industry

As digital audio files continue to flow freely on the Internet, music itself mimics certain inherent characteristics of the web best understood through Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s (D&G) rhizome metaphor. In A Thousand Plateaus, D&G introduce the concept of a “rhizome” to describe a representative model that extends in all directions and has multiple entryways; since then it has most commonly been used as a metaphor to represent the Internet. Understanding digital music as rhizomatic is important because it interprets the transformations of the digital music culture as a natural progression towards rhizomatic qualities – and provides us with an insight into what might be the future of “the music industry”. A few of the defining characteristics of the rhizome are connectivity, heterogeneity, multiplicity and cartography. Music can be understood as rhizomatic when its characteristics mimic those of the rhizome; thus music becomes more rhizomatic when those characteristics are amplified. According to D&G, any point of a rhizome “can and must be connected to anything other”. So we might think of anything that blocks connectivity as a contributing factor in making something less rhizomatic. Firewalls and 404-errors are just two examples of obstacles that fulfill this role. Digital music is also subject to a large set of infringing obstacles, some of which include DRM, other restrictions due to copyright laws, and pay-only access for downloads. As we see these barriers disappear, we also see digital music becoming more rhizomatic. While highlighting the defining characteristics of the rhizome…

I’ve suggested 5 examples illustrating how music has become more rhizomatic:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar132009

Remember the mullet? File sharers are next.

Updated on April 1, 2009 by Registered CommenterBruce Warila

Can you say stuck in the past? According to the news, the new U2 album has been downloaded illegally over 400,000 times since it was released. While this isn’t a number to sneeze at, it reminds me of the mulletheads that put hood scoops and air blowers over their carbureted engines in the early 1980s. When the rest of the world switched over to fuel injection, the mullet-powered Camaro became a thing of the past.

Someone click over to Torrent Freak and tell darkshare, labeldeath and redfilephantom to garage the Camaro and trim the mullet; fuel injection has arrived. Sorry angry dudes, the cost of acquiring a music collection is approaching zero

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Thursday
Mar122009

practicing with limitations - material and how to deal with it, part I

as I explained in the post practicing with limitations I beleive practicing is most exciting when you set limitations to what you do and when you do it. (the ‘when’ includes time management principles to get a daily practicing routine happening and I’ll cover that soon)

so, now you’ve narrowed down your field of study to what excites you most, you’re enthusiastic about learning something new and you are ready to start. but what happens next, when you actually practice? how can you practice the selected material and make your daily routine a daily success?

here are a couple of principles to make it happen.

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