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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).

Thursday
Mar102011

The Hidden Challenges of Subscription Music

Nearly a decade ago, Rhapsody debuted its subscription music service.

Giving fans access to unlimited music for a monthly fee appeared to be the answer to the social epidemic of file-sharing that occurred, and yet they still seem indifferent towards it.

Rhapsody failed to break into the mainstream market, leaving critics to question if it ever will. Many companies including MOG, Rdio, Slacker, and Spotify have since entered the sector too, none of which have had better luck. While Apple’s iPhone gave services a second life, experts argue that they have failed to reach critical mass due to issues of consumer awareness, user retention, smartphone penetration, and software design.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar092011

How To Actually Make $50,000 a Year As a Musician

One of the reasons we started MusicianWages.com was because of the huge reservoir of unqualified career advice that was being served to musicians online. I usually keep quiet about the charlatanry tips I find online, but I just can’t pass this one up. It displays the characteristics of bad career advice so acutely that I just have to point it out.

The Busking Alchemist

This article dropped onto my reading list this past weekend. Want To Make $50,000 a Year In Music? Start With One Dollar a Day. There’s a pair of sentences early in this article that are particularly telling. One of the things that mystifies me about this article is why it continues after this:

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Tuesday
Mar082011

A Mastering Engineer's Guide to Final Mixdown

“Garbage in, garbage out” is a common saying among mastering engineers. The quality of the source material limits the quality of the final product. Most of my clients have no problem following my simple preparation instructions, but they stop there.

They figure once each mix sounds as good as they can get it, they’re done. In fact, there’s a higher level of refinement that pays huge dividends. I’ll break it down in this mastering engineer’s guide to final mixdown (which I promised in an interview back in January - sorry for the delay!).

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Monday
Mar072011

Want To Make $50,000 a Year In Music? Start With One Dollar a Day.

A big part of my blog, How To Run A Band, is to figure out how to actually make money with music. However, I’ve been talking about giving music away for free, buying fancy tablets, and paying for web hosting. If you look at my “financials” page, you’ll notice a downward trend in money for my guinea pig band Shiplosion.

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Tuesday
Mar012011

10 Marketing Lessons I Learned from KISS

I am a KISS fan, going back to 1976 when my mom first bought me Rock N’ Roll Over. I remember taking heat in the late 70s at school for liking the band, I heard the phrase “KISS sucks” more than a few times. It also took a lot of courage to wear a KISS t-shirt to school at the time… you became a instant target. I grew up with KISS and their marketing has clearly been a influence on me and business growth. I often tell people I went to the Gene Simmons School of Marketing.

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Sunday
Feb272011

In Defense of 1,000 True Fans Part IX - Theory At Work In Australia - Down Under Series - Part 1: Urthboy

Greetings from Western Australia!  As I type this I am in the backseat of a car driving from Perth to Margaret River to enjoy a day of wine tasting and beach before I teach a masterclass to local musicians.  I have been invited here by The West Australian Music Industry Association to kick off their workshop series and have so far met and presented to over 200 musicians, labels owners, music industry students and managers. This is my third visit to Australia in 18 months and I love this country. I have been welcome here and have met lifelong friends and some of the most wonderful musicians (knows as “musos” in Aussie speak) on earth.

I’m not saying this to brag or boast, I am saying this to introduce and make a point about 1,000 true fans. Music Think Tank is read by not only artists but also by people who work in and who aspire to work in the music business. 

As a hard working entrepreneur in today’s music industry, I constantly think about how I apply the 1,000 true fans philosophy to my business (just like every single artist I work with does).  I am not a musician, and I don’t make a living creating music, I am viscerally aware of this fact, but I do make a living working with musicians and my dream to make a difference in their lives by the next generation of future leaders in my industry. My goals involve travelling the world and connecting with people to collaborate with. If I don’t connect well, I don’t get to live that dream. 

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Wednesday
Feb232011

The Top Five Employers of Musicians – And What the Economic Recovery Means for Us

Two years ago, I wrote an article about finding work in the midst of the recession. Part of the advice I gave was to focus on building clients at schools and churches, as they seemed to be the only institutions surviving the financial crisis.

It’s time for some new advice.

Now, certainly, I’m no economist. I took one, required, econ class in my whole life and I spent most of it looking pretty glassy-eyed. I can only tell you what I’m seeing in my own career and you can tell me in the comments below if you are seeing the same.

The Five Employers of Musicians

There are 5 basic employers for musicians.

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Wednesday
Feb232011

Don't Hold It Against Me – But Product Placement Will Not Save the Music Industry

The new Britney Spears video for ‘Hold It Against Me’ got me thinking about product placement and monetization possibilities for the music industry.

The video has overt references to Britney’s fragrance Radiance, Makeup Forever, Sony, and the online dating site PlentyOfFish. I have no idea* how much it costs to get into a video that will most likely garner tens of millions of views over time, but I can imagine it is not insignificant. Britney Spears isn’t the only one to include product placement in videos either—Lady Gaga didn’t shy away from video advertising in Telephone and even some rock musicians are starting to go with the trend to make up for lackluster CD sales.

Clearly it’s becoming a staple of the music industry just as it has been in television for a long time. I always enjoy a good product placement bit on 30 Rock.

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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.

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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 ...