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Anyone can join the discussion and contribute relevant articles to Music Think Tank.  Begin by signing up and then logging in to publish your posts directly to MTT Open. Please make sure that your posts are in the proper format before posting (see previous posts) and that there are minimal errors such as grammar or spelling. Popular articles are occasionally moved to the front of the site. Contributors own and operate this blog (more info).

Monday
Sep292014

“Thinking Music” vs. “Emotional Music”: Two Different Kinds of Music Listening Experience

I’ve always wanted to share my thoughts on how I listen to music and how I interpret what I hear. What is it that makes some tracks “work” for me while others leave me uninspired? Of course, there’s no short answer. Sometimes it’s a vocal hook, sometimes a driving guitar part, sometimes a floating ambience or a pumping bass line. With every track it is different. However, after giving some thought to this and “analyzing” the way I perceive music, I’ve come to realize that I can clearly distinguish between the two types of music: what I call “thinking music” and “emotional music”.

“Emotional music” is probably the most obvious kind. This is the type of music that makes you feel good or makes you want to cry or just makes you feel like you’re flying through the sky and all your problems just seem to melt away. This music caters to the basic human emotions, and this is what you usually can hear on the mainstream radio. Of course, that does not exclude jazz or classical or any type of indie or alternative music. For instance, Bach’s “Air on the G string” or Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or even Philip Glass’ fabulous score to the film “The Hours” are all — to me — examples of this type of music. As are Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” or U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” or Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” or even Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and, strangely, most of Sigur Ros’ catalogue as well. As you can see, very different music genres belong here. This doesn’t have to be pop music in the narrowest sense of the term but tracks belonging to this type usually have a strong sense of melody and/or harmony and quite simple chord progressions (although again, this is not mandatory) especially when compared to what is called “academic music” or some of the more complex forms of jazz.

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Saturday
Sep272014

MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: What Artists Should Know About Next Big Sound

Thursday
Sep252014

5 Portable Must Haves for Musicians

Inspiration cannot be scheduled. It could be the rustling of leaves or the sound of traffic whizzing by that forms the theme of your next song. To make sure you can record your latest musical genius, here are a few things you should always have with you.

Make It

If you play an instrument like a harmonica, it is fairly easy to keep it at hand, but what happens if you are a drummer or play the harp? For musicians who can't carry their instruments, it becomes essential to find a tool that creates music in a similar way. A musical app like the KORG iMS20 is a great example because it emulates a synth and is easy to customize. You can install it on your phone, and move around town with a mini studio on hand. It includes a synthesizer, sequencer, mixer, effects and drum machine all rolled into one.

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Wednesday
Sep242014

Mozart or Most Art: What’s Really Good for Kids?

My wife and I are gearing up to take our six year old to see Styx in October and a few of our friends have expressed concern at the idea of taking a young child to a rock concert. Despite my comebacks of “We’ll make him wear earplugs,” and “Come on, it’s only Styx!” — I keep getting flack. 

This article is for all the naysayers out there. Believe it or not, I am not going to warp my kid’s fragile little mind by exposing him to live music. In fact, I’m going to be expanding his horizons. Why? Because live music is good for kids.
Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with distractions. At concerts, kids are compelled to focus on music for an extended period of time. When children are actively listening to music – and I’m talking really engaged – they’re listening to the lyrics, singing, dancing, and letting their imaginations be steered by what they’re hearing. When it boils down to it, live music teaches children how to listen.

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Monday
Sep222014

What Artists Should Know About Next Big Sound

Perhaps you don’t sell too many albums on iTunes, or have that many SoundCloud plays or YouTube views. But maybe, just maybe, your music is really popular in some far off corner of the digital universe you never even knew about, and all that “exposure” you’ve racked up over the years is paying off behind the scenes.

Next Big Sound provides detailed online music analytics to measure the growth of bands on streaming services and social networks. It doesn’t cover everything, but it casts a wide enough net to shatter an artist’s dreams with cold, hard data. I know it did mine! <sniff>

Cidney at NBS agreed to give me an artist credit for one month so that I could write this article, way back in April. Hopefully she’ll forget to downgrade my account.

Features

Key Metrics

The screenshot above shows a dozen “key metrics” of my choosing. It’s an easy way to focus on what’s important to me, and not get bogged down in all those numbers. So for example, I could replace Rdio plays with Vine loops, Last.fm shouts, or unique pageviews of my website.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep202014

MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: The Best Ways To Approach Record Labels

Wednesday
Sep172014

The Best Ways To Approach Record Labels

So, you’re in a band and want to get signed. Welcome to a very large club! Unfortunately, most bands won’t get signed, but in this article we’re going to discuss how to give yourself the very best chance. 

Of course, the first place to start is in creating great music that people want to listen to and see live. Sounds obvious, but amongst all of the music marketing aspects that bands need to think about these days, it’s something that can often be forgotten. Hone your sound, create something unique, and make sure that your band has a clear identity. 

No matter how good your music, what you need to bare in mind is that record labels receive thousands of demos a week. What’s more, in the digital age they get sent thousands of YouTube links, and get plenty of attention on social networks by bands and their fans trying to get attention. So, to get your sound heard, you need to think outside of the box and follow these key tips to give yourself the best chance to succeed:

  1. Be polite: being rude, egotistical, or demanding is not going to get you anywhere. If you have a bit of diva in you, keep it in at this point. Record labels are dealing with a LOT of music, so if yours is with a message that is anything but 100% polite, chances are you’re not going to get the attention you deserve
  2. Be brief: whilst you want to explain your bands history, bear in mind the time that potential scouts have for each artist. Sum yourselves up quickly, or maybe even visually by using a tool like Canva to create some great explanatory images
  3. Stand out: make sure that you present yourself in the best way possible. Try sending something physical such as a personalized USB drive from the likes of USB Makers, or a personalized print or postcard with your music from the likes of Moo
  4. Show popularity: it’s hard for some people to brag – but make sure the scouts know just how popular you are. This might mean including links to your YouTube or SoundCloud pages, or even a Facebook link. Other options could be to include footage from some of your shows featuring your fans. Either way, make it clear that you’re riding the crest of a wave with your fans.

The key is not to get disheartened. Try your best to keep your chin up, and keep creating music and sending it out. Sooner or later, if you try hard enough, you’ll get the attention that you deserve!

The Best Ways To Approach Record Labels

Monday
Sep152014

Skyline Music Agency+ | Internship Openings

Are you looking for a way to get your foot in the door with a music agency or gain experience digital marketing? Skyline Music Agency+ currently has two internship positions open to collegiate students or young professionals interested in learning more about how to successfully be a part of today’s music industry.

Digital Marketing Internship | This position is geared specifically towards the efficient use of digital marketing platforms for both the agency and our artists. Duties would include but not be restricted to populating and updating artist’s digital press pages, curating and managing content for MusicThinkTank.com, and utilizing social media efficiently at both an artist and an agency level.

Junior Agent Internship | This position focuses more on behind the scenes agency work. Responsibilities would include but not be restricted to venue research, assisting in maintaining up to date artist information in our database, communicating with band managers & event staff, and digital press promotion.

We are currently accepting applications for the Fall Term that will begin on October 1st and end December 15th. If you feel as though either of these positions may be a good fit for your career aspirations, please submit your resume to Laura@SkylineOnline.com along with a short personal statement of 250 words or less that lets us know a little about your career goals and what you would add to the Skyline Music Agency+ team. A letter of recommendation is optional - but strongly recommended. 

All applications must be submitted in full by Friday, September 26th at 5pm EST. Applicants will be notified of their standing via email on Monday, September 29th.

Thank you for your interest in our internship opportunities – we look forward to hearing from you!

-The Skyline Agency+ Team 

Saturday
Sep132014

MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: The Musician’s Guide to the Sales Funnel: 10 Steps to Selling Tons More Tickets, Music, and Merchandise

Thursday
Sep112014

The Cyber PR Guide to Creating an Effective Music Marketing Plan (Part 1 of 3)

Happy almost end of summer ya’ll!  WE are in total denial that it is almost over BUT we are clear that it’s time to get back down to work.  In this 3-Part series Chris Hacker breaks down how to begin to build an effective log-term plan.  Enjoy this post.  Love, Ariel @CyberPR

Chris Hacker here, I lead the Marketing Plan team at Cyber PR® and really enjoy working with our artists who are in diverse genres and in all stages in their careers.

Over the years I’ve seen the same problems occur again and again. An artist will call us up looking for help promoting a new album that they’re planning on releasing in a few weeks or less! And often their only plan is just to hire a publicist. It completely baffles me that an artist will work so hard on an album, spending hours and hours writing songs and practicing these songs and then spending large sums of money recording, mixing and mastering, only to rush the release without being ready and having a complete plan in place. Especially in today’s saturated climate where even small music blogs are getting inundated with hundreds of emails a day from artists looking for coverage, just making an album and then wanting to “get some press”, is not enough of a plan. An artist needs to be working many different angles and taking many different approaches to get seen and heard.

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Wednesday
Sep102014

The Musician’s Guide to the Sales Funnel: 10 Steps to Selling Tons More Tickets, Music, and Merchandise 

If you’ve been struggling to get results from your marketing efforts and continue to spend more money than your band makes, then this is a must-read.

 Independent - (adj) - 1: Not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc. 

2: Thinking or acting for oneself. 

As musicians, we tend to think we can do it all. We’re independent artists. We’ve got our music, our talent, our fans—and nothing else matters. Well, at least that’s how it works in theory. 

The reality is we need help, and lots of it. I don’t care how good you are—there is simply not enough time to do everything and still be a master at your craft, which is the music itself. You need tools and you need to outsource. You need to learn how to run your band like a business, and being resistant to this fact is the fastest way to kill off whatever income—and independence—you have left. 

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Monday
Sep082014

Musicians Guide: How to Get and Keep a Good Day Job

Working for others doesn’t have to suck – plus, you can even learn to make any boss love you …


The situation

Many players, composers, and engineers start their careers in music and find they still need that side job while they get going. Others might find themselves without a gig for the first time in years and need something to fill in the gap. Getting better at our craft is a life-long pursuit, one full of ups and downs. We have all been there. So here are a few tips we hope will help keep you on the path toward growing your career in the music business.
 
The interview: Always make a good first impression

Don’t spew all your hopes and dreams at the interview. The manager at Best Buy doesn’t want to hear about the summer tour you are hoping to book. Remember, at the start, you likely will have to overcome some anti-musician prejudice, especially if you’ve got long hair, tattoos, and piercings. In addition, if the first impression you make as a prospective employee is “Hey man…but I’m gunna need some time off next summer,” you might not even get past the first interview, never mind the job.

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Saturday
Sep062014

MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: Musicians as Entrepreneurs

Wednesday
Sep032014

New Value in a Song for an Address


Follow the history of musicians and you’ll find a time when the minstrel played and was paid, but not always in the currency of the day.

Go back a few decades. You’ll find a time when musicians were led by record labels who would pick up the promotional tab and pay artists in cash. Far more groups were on the major circuits of shows. Merchandising became a major revenue source (for a few), and song sales succeeded because of thousands of record stores. As an artist, it was far easier to dream of striking it big.
“I went to see a local band last Saturday night. Great music. Enjoyed myself. Yet, at the end of the evening the wife and I got up from our table and left. The only revenue generated went to the bar.”

Look around at what you have to work with today; fewer artists are getting broadcast radio play, song sales have crashed because music is everywhere, and merchandising is weak (except for those few major acts receiving major label support).

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