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How You Can Contribute To MusicThinkTank

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).

Wednesday
Oct262011

Do's and Don't's of Social Networking - Know your fans to keep your fans!

So one of the main things I’ve had to learn this year with the rapid advance of social networking as a direct-connect to your fans is this:  DON’T make the mistake of overmarketing to them.

Fans become fans because they LIKE your music, but they are naturally curious about the person behind the music and the LOVE getting to know you even more than they like your music.  This is an incredibly important lesson to learn. Keep in mind that the same should be true for you in order for there to exist a genuine relationship between the two of you…be more interested in learning about and knowing your fans than SELLING to them.  They will buy your music if and only if you’ve established trust and interest with them as an independent artist.  Let’s face it - we’re not Taylor Swift or Beyonce who have had millions of dollars behind developing their brand that is mass-marketed to everyone.  We are independent artists with limited marketing budgets and time and genuine care will go a LONG way in your social networking strategies.

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Tuesday
Oct252011

Music as a Free Commodity

A question was brought to my attention after a chat with a friend, and I’m not sure I have an answer… So of course, I’ll turn to you. It went something like this: Friend: Spotify and Rdio both seem to either limit your amount of free music or play ads. I guess I’ll have to switch back and forth between them. Me: Or you could just pay for one? Friend: We pay after we know it’s good. We listen for free. Isn’t that the new standard?

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Monday
Oct242011

What You Need BEFORE Leaving the Rehearsal Studio

In a word: AWESOMENESS.


As an indie I go to a lot of local shows.  I want to find and network with other bands, make friendships, and help support my scene.  Some bands are great, some are good, and others are…’eh’.


The really great bands are firing on all cylinders.  Great live show, great recordings, great merch table.  The other bands always seem to be lacking in certain areas. 


If the live show is THE most important thing for a band, then I think there are certain aspects, certain ‘Standards of Excellence’ that a band MUST achieve before stepping outside the rehearsal room.  We just cannot afford to suck anymore, at all, no compromises.  That doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect: to play a million notes a second, or whatever.  Not perfection, just a commitment to excellence.


Here are a few Standards of Excellence I feel every band should consider the bare minimum before starting to gig regularly, if they expect to get results that is:

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Friday
Oct212011

How Do We Benefit From Streaming? Can We?

What does streaming mean to an independant artist? Is streaming worth the loss in income so more fans can listen to your music? Can you ever break even? Is it better to just ignore the whole deal?

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Thursday
Oct202011

Tech: The Importance of a Recording Timeline

We’ve all been there. The drummer overslept, the guitarist is late, and the bass player has to leave early to hang out with his girlfriend. None of us enjoy being in this kind of a situation, and that is why having a planned out recording schedule can help improve session flow and save you time (and money). Assuming your band is well rehearsed and prepared for their recording session, there are several steps you will want to take to prevent the session from coming to a screeching halt. The key factor to preparing for a productive recording session is a Session Schedule.

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Tuesday
Oct182011

Call for Content Submissions

Hello MTT Community,

First off, thank you for your loyal readership and thank you for the insightful content that many of you have written. Without you, this blog probably would not exist. This blog was made to discuss our thoughts on the current and future music industry, technology, and everything that goes along with it. In order to provide our readers with relevant content, we are asking for content submissions. If you have something to say about the music industry, please contribute a post to MTT. Remember to review the submission guidelines posted on the MTT open page before posting.

Thank you!

       —Natalie

Monday
Oct172011

In Defense of 1,000 True Fans Part XI – Marian Call Leveraged Twitter to Tour 50 States & Returned w/ Money in Her Pocket

Since Spotify’s US launch and the F8 announcements, a major sea change is underfoot.  I have been following some of the most important and lively conversations about the meaning of all of this for independent musicians everywhere.

I don’t have much to say about it all (yet) but my knee jerk reaction is to revert back to the basics. As things get more and more complicated and as artists are being included on platforms that will yield them smaller fiduciary returns, it is more necessary than ever to remember and practice core marketing principals. I am strongly reminded of their necessity of the basics when I look at this from a global perspective.

I just returned from Scandinavia where most everyone still refuses to use Twitter and the people I met and spoke to mostly believe that email newsletters = SPAM.

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Wednesday
Oct122011

Sampling - a cautionary tale

I used to be a music lawyer and I was a bit of an authority (for a while) on sampling and sample clearance in the early ‘90’s. Then I ran a bunch of dance labels and worked with a lot of electronic artists. I have cleared a lot of samples but I have released way more records with samples in them that we didn’t bother to clear. Why? Because we thought that no-one would notice that we’d used their music - these were generally small specialist underground records - and that if they did, we would be able to agree something after the event, if the need ever arose. The reality is that it was too much bother and too expensive to try and clear a sample of an obscure and hard to find piece of music or of a snippet of a big successful tune when you knew that your record was going to sell just a few thousand copies - i.e. we felt at the time that the risk was well worth it. And hundreds of thousands of records have been released with uncleared samples in them.

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Tuesday
Oct112011

Navigating the Music Business - Mapping Out A Living

So how hard is it really?  You write songs and sell them, that’s all there is to it, right?  Unfortunately the music industry isn’t quite as simple as we’d all like it to be.  There are many different sectors through which an artist must pass and even more ways in which these sectors can be negotiated and traversed.  To successfully navigate the music industry one must learn what happens in each of these sectors and how they inter-relate.  To help you get started we have a ‘Map of the Musical Universe’ courtesy of PRS (click to enlarge).

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Friday
Oct072011

Musician's Arsenal: Killer Apps, Tools & Sites - Crowdbooster

Welcome back to Musician’s Arsenal. This week we’ll be going over analytics. Too few artists actually pay attention to their social media analytics. Some just don’t know analytics for social media exist, some don’t know where to find them and some don’t think it’s important. It’s time to remedy all of this here and now. Crowdbooster recently launched the public version of their site (it had been in private beta for a while), and they join a legion of other social media analytics solutions available to musicians. I choose Crowdbooster to write about due to it’s ease of use and affordability (how’s free?). Crowdbooster provides straight ahead, no nonsense analytics in an easily digestible format.

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Thursday
Oct062011

Spotiwhy? : Are Subscription Music Services a Sustainable Business Model?

This essay is neither for nor against subscription music services, and will focus on answering four questions. 1) What is the revenue potential for subscription music services? 2) What are the most likely rates per stream? 3) How much money can an artist expect to make from subscription music? 4) Is a compulsory rate a sustainable business model?

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Wednesday
Oct052011

What Artists Should Know About ReverbNation's Promote It

Running a Facebook ad campaign is confusing. You bid for ad placement, but the price you pay bears little relation to your bid. What’s the difference between reach and social reach, connections and clicks, CPC and CPM? More importantly, is there any way to tell how many people played, downloaded, and shared your song, or signed up for your mailing list? (answer: no, there’s not)

ReverbNation’s new Promote It tool addresses those shortcomings, and then some. You pick a song, photo, and budget, and it automatically generates dozens of optimized Facebook ads based on past Promote It campaigns, and continually optimizes your campaign based on the performance of those ads. New fans click through to customized landing pages that track not just clicks and likes, but plays, downloads, shares, wall posts, and mailing list signups. As I’m quoted as saying in the press release, “It’s the ultimate ‘set it and forget it’ fan-making machine!”

I was invited to try it out and provide feedback during the beta period, and I’m flattered that some of my suggestions made it into the final product. So far I’ve run six campaigns. Let’s walk through the creation and performance of my latest and most successful one.

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Tuesday
Oct042011

Reason #1 for The Fan Experience – A Take That Story 

At the tail end of 2005, I was sitting in my office as Digital Product Manager at Sony (BMG) working on the Take That website. The band had been away for ten years. Take That were making their comeback and this event was marked by many things - a documentary charting their career, a new “Greatest Hits” album called “The Ultimate Collection - Never Forget” and of course their first official website. Until this point in time the “Take That Appreciation Pages,” had occupied the prime real estate of web space as the number one destination for all things Take That. The owners of the “Take That Appreciation Pages,” were doing a better job then we ever could have at managing the fans. Resources at Sony were stretched between many, many artists. The Take That Appreciation Pages,were dedicated to their cause. When it came to Take That as Lulu said in the documentary you weren’t so much a fan as you were a disciple.

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Monday
Oct032011

Bring On The New

Recently I heard a quote attributed to a music business executive that went something like this: “The new model doesn’t exist…” I can’t honestly believe that it was framed that way by someone in the business…Just what exactly would qualify as success or viability in the “new model” by the present day music business establishment?

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