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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).

Monday
Dec062010

Tidings Of Comfort, Joy, Forgiveness & Success, A Four-Part Exercise For Musicians

After traveling to eight countries this year, teaching master classes and speaking on panels the thing that stands out for me is:

How hard we can be on ourselves.

It’s almost the end of the year, and it was a crazy year for most of us. Musicians and colleagues alike tell me that they were busier than ever before.

We have all had to come up with more creative ways to stay relevant and vital in the current music business either as musicians or entrepreneurs, so, this busy-ness makes a lot of sense.  

You constantly have to stay on top of not only your creative journey and output, writing, rehearsing, booking, touring, marketing, and managing all of your social media, recording and releasing music, not to mention keeping balance in your personal life as well.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec022010

10 Success Strategies for DIY Musicians, Managers & Promoters

In the spirit of holiday gift giving, I’d like to give you a new, six-page report called “10 Success Strategies for DIY Musicians, Managers, Promoters and More.”

Use this direct link to the PDF file to open and print it. (If you want to access it later, be sure to save the file to your hard drive or favorite ebook reader.)

I encourage you to share this free report with anyone you feel could use it. After all, that’s why I published these 10 DIY music strategies - to inspire and empower music people who really need to GET these principles.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec012010

A Sample Music Business Plan

I just got home from a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with my mother, sister, brother, niece and nephew in Franklin Park, New Jersey. The roads were slick from an early snow shower that turned to freezing rain. As I was driving home it dawned on me that I haven’t written a blog post (on any topic) in over a month. But tonight I suddenly found the inspiration to present…

A Sample Music Business Plan for Your Band

For those of you who haven’t read my previous posts on this topic, I’ll briefly bring you up to speed. I wrote a post on Music Think Tank Open that was transferred to the main page (an honor in my book) called How to Write a Music Business Plan. It was a bit fluffy like this one might end up and one of the MTT readers called me on it. The first comment was, “Would have been stronger with a template or sample.” I got pissed off and created a template. Thanks again Justin.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov292010

Is Money Limiting Your Band’s Growth?

You might have assumed from the title of this article that it would be about techniques of acquiring funding to pay for the overheads of running a band, or exploring where best to invest your marketing budgets. Not today I’m afraid.

Today I’m going to challenge the other side of the coin and suggest that money is bad for your band.

To clarify that statement in more detail, my opinion is that focusing on short-term methods of monetising your music career too early on is counter-productive when trying to build a successful and sustainable music career. The classic example is that by selling your music exclusively on iTunes opposed to offering it to fans free of charge fewer people will consume and share your song.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov242010

New in MTT Open: Endorsements, Internet Radio, Relationships, Money, and Virtual Tours

Simon Tam explains the approach that artists should take to get endorsements and sponsors. Artists need to create opportunities by initiating contact in a unique way. Artists need to focus on how they can provide value to the company instead of the other way around. To start, artists can contact companies with less competition such as local businesses that may be more likely to become a sponsor. 

“It’s about creating a lasting relationship where you can build an audience together with that company.” (Read On)

Internet Radio Is the Future…Duh

Charles Hill writes about his rant on recent articles that he finds obvious. 

“I run across articles with titles like “Internet Radio is the Future”. This cracks me up. Its like writing a book on the fact that the sky is blue.” (Read On)

Relationships Are The New Distribution

Greg Bates discusses one aspect of the 4 P’s of Marketing: Place. Most artists think that their distribution is taken care of by putting their music on iTunes or Bandcamp, but distribution is made up of the quality of your relationships. Artists need to build relationships with fans and reach out to other bands, businesses, etc. to collaborate on projects.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov222010

Live Performances Should Be Like Church

If there’s one thing I learned from my former years playing in houses of worship, it’s that the Sunday morning experience is designed for maximum effectiveness. Granted, some churches are more finely tuned than others, but the principles of your average worship service should apply to every single concert you play.

  • Start with an engaged crowd. Even if it’s just the first row or two, a well-timed “Hallelujah!” now and again will get the cold crowd to warm up a little.
  • Appeal to all five senses. Studies have shown that we remember events better if all of our senses are engaged. The Church, in its various forms throughout the millennia, has evolved to adopt this level of impact.

    1. Sight: Robes, banners, crosses, flowers, statues, you name it. Stained-glass windows and flying buttresses were designed specifically to catch your eye.
    2. Sound: Obviously, a church service involves talking and music. If your shows don’t have either, you’re reading the wrong article.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov172010

Scattered Monkeys - “An Insiders Perspective on the Evolving Music Industry”

Imagine you are a wolf.

You were raised to hunt buffalo. You could take down one buffalo and feed your family for the long haul. Then one day the buffalo disappear.

There is a new species in your environment. You have never seen this creature before. They are hairy with beady-eyes, funny tails, and look almost human; they are monkeys.

Yes, oddly enough there are now monkeys everywhere. They are swinging in the trees and bathing in your watering hole. Monkeys as far as the eye can see. You are soon sick of banana peels and your mouth waters every time you hear that annoying cackle.

This is exciting. Surely these monkeys will be easy to catch. The smell of monkey is intoxicating. You can feel your instincts kicking in so you run. Yes! Exhilarating! You are on the chase after your monkey. You run and run and run. Except the monkey climbs a tree. You don’t know how to do that. You begin chasing another monkey…they scatter and confuse you.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov142010

What is Twitter? Do you have an answer?

Even though Twitter adds millions of new users each month, it still feels like Twitter can’t tell users what Twitter is - in fifty words or less! 
 
The best way to discover what’s new in your world…

The what, why and how of Twitter is as confusing as it has ever been.  Since the music industry is one of the first industries to heavily embrace Twitter, I asked some industry friends the simple question: “What is Twitter?”  Their answers and my answer are below.  Please contribute to the conversation by answering “What is Twitter?” as a comment. 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov112010

The Day Steve Jobs Dissed Me In A Keynote

In May 2003, Apple invited me to their headquarters to discuss getting CD Baby’s catalog into the iTunes Music Store.

iTunes had just launched two weeks before, with only some music from the major labels. Many of us in the music biz were not sure this idea was going to work. Especially those who had seen companies like eMusic do this exact same model for years without big success.

I flew to Cupertino thinking I’d be meeting with one of their marketing or tech people. When I arrived, I found out that about a hundred people from small record labels and distributors had also been invited.

We all went into a little presentation room, not knowing what to expect.

Then out comes Steve Jobs. Whoa! Wow.

He was in full persuasive presentation mode. Trying to convince all of us to give Apple our entire catalog of music. Talking about iTunes success so far, and all the reasons we should work with them.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov112010

Michael Laskow of Taxi: Marketing + Entrepreneurial Skills = Music Business Success

I normally write articles and tips for musicians to help them with their online marketing, PR and community building.  But there is another topic I feel deeply passionate about:  Helping the next generation who want to make it in the music business understands what it takes to achieve that dream.

To succeed in service to musicians you must have great entrepreneurial instincts and it’s advice from one of the most successful people serving artists today: Michael Laskow, the founder of Taxi.

 As I type this I am flying back from the 13th annual Taxi Road Rally and I feel full of hope for what lies ahead of us all in the music business.

Why?

Because Taxi members are a unique group of artists who work TOGETHER to help each other get ahead. This was evident in every corner of the hotel, which was filled with artists networking, jamming, socializing and getting mentored by an outstanding group of industry professionals committed to helping them including Ralph Murphy, Steven Memel, Bob Baker, John & Joann Brahaeny, Debra Russell, Dude Mclean, Jay Frank, Carla Lynne Hall, Gilli Moon, and dozens more.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov102010

Learning From Facebook Ad Failures

As with most folks who work in the tech business, I think it’s important to celebrate failures — they often teach us more than success. As such, I wanted to share a few Facebook Ads campaigns I experimented with and why they didn’t work.

The question I wanted to answer after the almost-too-easy success with the All Smiles campaign was “How easy is it to convert fans of related (but not directly tied) artists from Facebook Ads?

Answer: Not easy.

I set out to target three groups of fans with free downloads from A B & The Sea: Jukebox The Ghost (with whom they were touring), Katy Perry (whose song they covered), and Beach Boys (to whom they sound most similar). I set up Facebook ads driving to dedicated landing pages (eg - http://abandthesea.net/jukebox/) with unique Topspin widgets on each so I could track conversion data at a granular level. Here’s how each campaign broke down:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov092010

Management In The Music Industry

Peter Drucker stated, “Long-range planning is necessary precisely because we cannot forecast[1].” According to this statement, planning is essential to any enterprise so that the right decisions can be made when the environment changes. Music enterprises must be able to strategize and plan in order to create value for its customers. Strategizing and planning allows the enterprise to create its goals in its mission and vision for all levels of the hierarchy to strive for.

For example, Motown Records’ mission statement was, when it was first created, to “unite and bring people together through music[2].” A mission statement, as being part of planning, was created for Motown Records so that all artists, publishers, employees, and presidents of Motown Records would make decisions based on “uniting and bringing people together.” Knowledge of the goals and direction of the enterprise are necessary to know throughout the entire enterprise so that everyone knows what decisions are to be made and which are the right ones[3].  Motown Records brought value to its customers that shared the same ideal in music: the desire to unite people. Planning the mission and vision statement encompasses all decision-making for music enterprises. After knowing the enterprise’s plan, any employee or superior would have to ask, “Does this decision align with our core values and work towards our vision as a music enterprise?” Customers will value an enterprise that is consistent with its plan to create that value for its customers.

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Monday
Nov082010

Bands, Social Is Not Just About Sharing It Is Also About Commerce – CommerceSocial

Bands, Artists, Labels, Management Companies… it’s time to move beyond a single stand alone online store and bring your online store to where your fans are hanging out; Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Websites. Don’t just post your new CD on your Facebook Wall and link your fans back to a typical online store. Post your new CD on your Facebook Wall, MySpace Page, Blog or official website and let your fans buy it right there without even leaving. Let your fans share your new CD as a Wall post with all their friends, while including the ability to buy your CD in every single one of those Wall posts.

STOP, think about what I just said… every single Wall post by all your fans could be a store with the ability to buy your CD. What could that mean for sales?

It is time to bring your commerce to the world of social. CommerceSocial is a new tool that is extremely easy to setup and lets your CD spread virally through the social networks.

Here is how it works: Imagine that the next time you post a product on your F

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Friday
Nov052010

How to Write Engaging Newsletters - Ariel’s Greeting, Guts, & Getting!

Are you still not sending newsletters? A new study proves you should be….

Boston based research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey has recently completed a study that all musicians should know about.

Here are the important highlights:

 “Three-quarters of web users are likely to share content with friends and family, and nearly half do so at least once a week. But while much social networking content is built around such shared items, most people still prefer to use email to pass along items of interest.”

The study goes on to say: “Overall, 86% of survey respondents said they used email to share content, while just 49% said they used Facebook. Broken down by age, the preference for email is more pronounced, as users get older. And only the youngest group polled, those ages 18 to 24, reverses the trend, with 76% sharing via Facebook, compared with 70% via email.”

So, if your audience is older than 24 you better be thinking about your newsletter strategy now!

Click to read more ...