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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).

Tuesday
Feb222011

Cash for Covers: 3 Easy Ways to Make Money from Cover Songs on Digital Stores

It’s no secret Justin Bieber’s ascension to pop superstardom started with a cover song (a version of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick”).  Could he have achieved an “underdog to celebrity” rise without one?  Maybe, but Bieber performed a new spin on a decades-old formula readily available to any recording artist looking to acquire new fans and make additional money from their recordings.

Cover songs (a.k.a. “remakes”) provide an easy path to building audiences.  Releasing one is similar to getting introduced to a new person by way of mutual friend (the song) rather than through a chance encounter (an original tune found on a Bandcamp / MySpace page).  A positive introduction is more likely when there is immediate common ground.

Cover songs also provide a unique way of tapping into alternate revenue streams for only modest expense (i.e. money spent securing the required mechanical license and paying royalties via Limelight, time spent learning the song, etc.).  So why is this an effective way of promoting your music?  Let’s explore… 

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Monday
Feb212011

6 Case Studies on Successful Online Music Marketing 

Connecting with fans is imperative in today’s music industry. It’s that connection that can give them a reason to buy and support your music. Utilizing social media and having a strong online presence makes connecting with fans much more achievable. Below are some good case studies of bands that found success through an online campaign. I encourage musicians to review these examples and pay attention to the elements that made them successful. Then think about how to implement those strategies into your own marketing plans.

1) Arcade Fire – Interactive Music Video Using Google Street View

Arcade Fire utilized HTML5 to create an interactive music video for “We Used to Wait.” Users are prompted to enter the address of their childhood home at the start of the video. While watching the video, scenes from your old neighborhood are pulled in using Google street view.  The elements of new technology, interactivity, nostalgia, experimentation, and personalization all aided in making this video a huge hit. Think about those factors for your next campaign.

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Friday
Feb182011

Is YouTube Destroying or Saving Music?

A few weeks ago Wired posed the question “Is YouTube Bad for Music?”. Their article asks if music fans’ access to almost limitless free music via YouTube is hurting revenue for artists by undercutting premium streaming services, and of course, iTunes/CD sales. 

Later on, YouTube responded, stating that “Free Music Can Pay As Well As Paid Music”. YouTube retorted that their monetized views via AdSense and In-Video ads were putting millions of dollars into musicians’ pockets every month. (well, more accurately, into the record label exec’s pockets, but that’s a discussion for another article).

The more interesting debates seemed to happen on various music industry blogs who weighed in on the discussion with their own oped pieces.

This is not another one of those opinion pieces, this is a fact piece.

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Thursday
Feb172011

The Three Legged Table: Songs, Magnetism, and Business

How do you tell a businessperson that success in the music business…has nothing to do with business?

On Music Think Tank, where I have posted over eighty articles, you’ll find an overwhelming amount of advice on social media practices, fan engagement and conversion strategies, business planning, artist management, music marketing, music technology and enough similar sounding posts to make your head spin.  One might even be misled into believing that the equation: decent artist + solid business support = success.  However this formula is about as a sound as building a one legged table. 

If you are ever thinking about financially backing or supporting an artist, you should know that there are two other legs of the table that are of equal or greater importance.  In fact, if these first two legs are solid, the third leg, the business leg, almost organically grows itself.

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Wednesday
Feb162011

How to Successfully Grow Your Fan Base Using Facebook (And Not Spend a Dime)

When it comes to your music, people are predominantly concerned with one thing - not what your music means to you, but what your music means to them. This is one of the most important lessons any musician can learn.

The birth of social networks allowed fans an insight into the more mundane aspects of celebrity; as a result, this sparked a newfound intrigue into their normality. However, now that everyone from the drummer of the Black Keys, to the State of North Korea are all Twittered up, the days of dietary intake being shareable news are long gone.

The tides have turned.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb082011

What Kinds of Images Best Represent Your Band?

As you’ve no doubt realized by now, image is pretty important to your success as an artist. It affects your live show, it affects your online presence, it affects your marketing opportunities and strategy.

But in the countless hours you’re obviously devoting to exploring and experimenting with your image, are you thinking about what kind of image you’re going to use?  

The superb Riff City published a tremendously insightful post last week entitled Docs of Perception: Visual Records and How We Hear Music. In it, author Julianne Escobedo Shephard explores the relationship between camera technology and our perception of artists.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb082011

10 Things Every Musician Should Do Online Every Day

Do you or your band have a daily online routine? You better. At the speed this world moves you can’t afford to miss even one day of what is happening. Your competition is not sitting still, so you better be out there. But as a band you have to find a balance that is not going to hinder your ability to be a band. You need to write, rehearse, record, perform… if you don’t do any of those things, being online won’t mean much.

So I thought I would take a look at my daily online routine and maybe you can apply to it your routine.

10 Things Every Musician Should Do Online Every Day

1. Quick Email Scan. – When you wakeup, you’re a band, so whatever time of the day this might be is fine. Grab your iPhone or smartphone and do a quick scan of your email for anything important or urgent. Respond to those very urgent emails right away. You will know what they are when you see them.

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Monday
Feb072011

One Rocket I Hope Never Takes Off

The latest version of MP3 Rocket (a media downloading app) now allows you to download YouTube videos as mp3s, so you can listen to that new Lady Gaga single whenever you want. MP3 Rocket claims this isn’t breaking any copyright laws, because their software is to be used only for “time-shifting, personal, private, non-commercial use”, which cites the same ruling that video tape and VCR manufacturers use to make home-recording of TV shows legal.

Huh?

The first argument that should pop into everyone’s head is that YouTube videos don’t air only once, on Monday nights at 7pm Est / 6pm Central… YouTube already provides the convenience of “time-shifting” because you can ALREADY watch or listen to the video whenever you want, as many times as you want.

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Friday
Feb042011

Music Think Tank Logo

I just passed this logo over to Bruce and Kyle at Hypebot, but it occurred to me that others may need it also.  Without further introduction, may I present…the Music Think Tank logo (as a PNG).

Wednesday
Feb022011

4 Steps To A New Music Business

By now everyone has read a string of thoughtful predictions by many great music industry minds regarding the future of the music business, and most of them certainly have merit. Let me propose the 4 steps that I think would help thrust the music business truly into Music 3.0. Some of these you’ve no doubt heard before, but some you may have not.

1) New Blood For The Industry - The music industry was creatively at its best when the pioneers of the business (Berry Gordy, Ahmet Ertegen, Mo Ostin, Jac Holzman, etc.) were actively running their companies. They were fans first, businessmen second, and they intimately knew their audience well because they were part of it.

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Wednesday
Feb022011

Are You Wishing Your Fans A Happy Birthday?

I love this tip so much… Marcio Teixeira made a very simple suggestion for my 2000 Things article that fit perfectly with something else I was working on, wish your fans a Happy Birthday. How many are doing this? I have to say not many.

I don’t remember getting a birthday greeting from any band recently.

We all love it when someone recognizes our birthday. I am also always impressed when every year Southwest Airlines sends me a birthday card. No other business does that. A very simple action that always makes me think just how much I like Southwest Airlines. You need to do the same with every one of your fans. I already hear the comments… how!

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Tuesday
Feb012011

Why I Think Video LPs Are A Good Idea

Yesterday I uploaded what I’m calling a “Video LP” for my album Erase This to YouTube. [watch it here] The Video LP consists of eleven different videos (one for each song on the album, and a personal introduction from myself), tied together by a YouTube playlist that will automatically roll through all eleven videos, in order, with the click of one button.

For Fans

For music listeners and fans, the Video LP (LP referring to “long playing”, the name given to 12” vinyl records in the 40s) is a great format for sampling an entire album before making a purchasing decision. It’s similar to streaming the entire album on my website, but better. The Video LP format allows for on screen lyrics and all of the liner note artwork typically associated with CD and record sleeves. You won’t find that on most streaming mp3 players.

Additionally, because each song is its own YouTube video, songs can be favorited, commented on, embedded and shared easily, in a format that listeners/viewers are already familiar and comfortable with.

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Saturday
Jan292011

How Does Effort Impact Music Value?

One digital decade has ended and another has begun. Throughout these chaotic times, cloud-based music services have remained at the front of music industry discussions.

Are fans willing to pay a monthly fee to access unlimited music or will ownership carry on?

It has been argued that the era of à la carte music downloads is over – that the iTunes business model has been exhausted. Fans no longer desire to pay for each song or own them. Instead, they want to have access to everything for nothing – or, at least, a small fee.

Tech-companies like Spotify are betting that if they allow enough users to build music collections – for free – eventually, they will take ownership of their libraries and pay to access them through mobile devices. Meanwhile, rival services like Thumbplay Music, Rdio, and MOG offer limited to free trial periods. This raises a few important questions.

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Thursday
Jan272011

Using Blogger Motivations to Drive Fan Connections

I was reading David’s post on “Music Blogging in 2011” and was especially moved by the comments. Dozens of bloggers chimed in with their viewpoints on blogging, and, most importantly, their own motivations for blogging.

I’ve written before on constructing personas for bloggers, but I think it’s worth looking at the personas in a different light: motivations. Most music bloggers exhibit some combination of these four motivations:

 - Participating in a community - Bloggers are almost always the biggest consumers of other blogs as well. They comment on each others’ posts, repost content they’ve found on other blogs, join forums, and go to meetups. People like to feel close to people similar to them, and musical taste goes a long way towards identifying potential friends. 

 - Sharing with friends - Most bloggers are the same folks who made all the mixtapes for their friends and parties in high school and college. They want their friends to hear great music, and blogging is a great way to publish their favorites. I know a good portion of the subscribers to my blog personally, and often subscribe to their blogs on other topics.

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