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MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: Is it ever OK to work for free in the music industry?


Are you out selling your music or are you selling out?

I participated in a twitter chat today. Normally, I love hanging with peers and discussing what’s new and what’s not! Today, though, was a little different. The subject was how to make money in music. It is a good and interesting subject but when someone suggested “To keep going where the paying music fans are. Write new songs in the style that fits their interests” I cringed a little. Was the suggestion that artists should write music for the fans? Now that might work for some and I have NOTHING against making money with music but I do believe that, for me at least, it should start with the music and not the other way around. I am the first to admit that I am completely unknown and generally write what I feel like, which is probably exactly why I remain obscure. (I will now insert a pause so all of you music marketing gurus can say “I told you so”). If that is indeed what you are thinking, I believe that you are missing the point. I LOVE having people and peers tell me that what I do sounds great and I LOVE getting that attention. BUT I don’t NEED that to write what I feel, play what I feel and record what I feel!

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Is it ever OK to work for free in the music industry?

Picture this: a busy Friday night in a trendy city venue. An up and coming band plays a beautifully-crafted and well-rehearsed set to a delighted audience, at least half of whom are the band’s loyal fans. The bar is busy and the night is energised. It’s a scene many of us are familiar with and is one of the great things about life in a city with a vibrant and exciting music scene. As the night draws to an end the various members of staff who have made the night happen congregate in the back office to collect their pay check. The frazzled bar staff collect their well-earned cash. Door staff are handed their envelopes with wry smiles and pats on the back, ‘Thanks guys that was a tough one tonight’. The school kid who collects glasses excitedly pockets his £20, and the cleaners, who have just arrived, take their wages in advance, their eyes diverted though the gap in the door at the alcohol stained apocalypse that awaits them. Now it’s the turn of the band. The guys and girls who rehearsed solidly in expensive studios for months; who promoted the show for weeks; who arrived at 3pm in a hired van after a 2 hour journey; who lugged all of their gear in the pouring rain to the sound check; the band that entertained the revellers and made the night awesome; in what giant envelope will the 5 of them receive their remuneration they quietly wonder? ‘AMAZING set guys, you were great… er we didn’t take as much as expected at the bar though, so obviously we won’t be able to pay you. Really sorry. I think we have a few bottles of beer left over that you can take’.  The band saunter outside into the first rays of sunrise, 2 warm beers between them, full of defiance and resignation.

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5 Quick Email Etiquette Tips for Bands (and Everyone Else)

This article originally appeared on the Sonicbids blog.

While the internet and new technologies propel the world into the future, I’m amazed by how many of us have the online etiquette of a caveperson. Seriously, I just got an anonymous link posted on my social networks with the blurb, “Yo, check my song out.” Two seconds later, I got a friend request from someone with no profile picture other than that creepy default blank head. While the following tips aren’t groundbreaking, they serve as reminders that just might help us all to be a little more mindful the next time we get online. And like your mom says, “Better behavior gets better results” – in this case, meaning more loyal fans, better gigs, and more placements. Enjoy!


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MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: Do You Have the Risk Tolerance for a Music PR Campaign?


Do You Have the Risk Tolerance for a Music PR Campaign?

by Janelle Rogers, Green Light Go Publicity

Risk averse beware if you are entering into a music pr campaign, because it is one risky proposition.

If you are risk averse and have any trepidation, I’m going to tell you that you shouldn’t hire a publicist. Yep, I own a music pr firm and I’m going to tell you not to hire us.

Your heart will break. You’ll go through every emotion under the sun from elation when that influential media outlet says your record is the bomb to utter despair when not a press coverage can be found. You’ll point fingers, blame, question and self-doubt. You’ll stay awake with anxiety wondering why you spent all your money on publicity that isn’t moving fast enough and then ask the publicist daily “Have you heard from…?” in the hopes asking the question will allow it to materialize at the speed of light.

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How to Craft Your Band's Pitch for 5 Types of Media Outlets

This post originally appeared on the Sonicbids blog.

The media has come calling, and you can’t wait to tell your band’s story over, and over, and over again. Who cares if you sound like a broken record – any press is good press, right? Wrong. It’s true, you could have much worse problems. But think of it this way: If you saw an article about your favorite band (or actor, or comedian, or whatever), picked it up and dove in only to find the same anecdotes you’ve read a dozen times, you’d be disappointed and might even toss aside the whole story. Look at each media opportunity as a way to attract new listeners and draw your existing fanbase even closer. Here’s how to tailor your band’s story to maximize your chances of getting picked up by five types of media outlets.

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What is My Image?

To have a music career means more than just making good music. Fans want more than just songs. They want a figure that is the human representation of the songs that mean so much to them. You need to be the whole package to attract listeners, who want to undergo a genuine, authentic, and all-encompassing music experience.

An artist’s image is comprised of their public behavior, performance style, musical style, social media activity, dressing style, public statements, etc. As an entertainer, you are living under constant inspection from fans and potential fans. Thus, in the public sphere, it is important that you live under the guidelines you dictate as integral parts of your image. That’s why it’s necessary for your image to accurately represent yourself, or at least a prominent facet of yourself. To be genuine and comfortable in your artist persona, you must walk the fine line of being yourself and being a consistent and accurate representation of the music you create.


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How Most Successful Indie Music Artists I Know Make a Living

I know a lot of independent music artists – rappers, singers, people in bands, DJs. I know artists that do nothing but music for a living. I know artists with day jobs and side jobs. I know artists that make a really good living. I know artists that make a decent middle-class to lower-middle-class living. I know artists that are basically homeless. I know a lot of artists all over the spectrum.
It’s 2014. The ultimate goal of most indie artists I know isn’t necessarily a major record deal. The goal of most indie artists I know is making a decent middle-class living doing what they love – making music. If they have a day job, it’s only because they have to. This doesn’t have to be their end goal. They can still aim to be rich and famous, either independently or on a major label. But if they were independent or on an indie label and making a comfortable middle-class living they’d probably be happy, even if they’re still reaching for the stars.

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MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: | Properly Sending Your Music to Commercial Radio Stations


3 Tips to Better Manage a Subscription-Based Business

Global sales in the music industry rose 0.3 percent from year-to-year in 2012, the first increase since 1999, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Revenues dropped 3.9 percent globally the following year due to Japan, the world's second-largest music market, experiencing a sharp 16.7 percent decline in sales that year. Steve McClure, writing for the Japan Times, said the country's failure to embrace digital music subscription services like Spotify and Rdio is the primary culprit for the steep drops in revenues.

The subscription-based business model saved the music industry from imminent demise, and has subsequently attracted the attention of startup entrepreneurs. Granted recurring revenue models for businesses are nothing new. But the consumption of goods in American households has decreased over the past 20 years, while service consumption has risen, according to data compiled by the Economist.

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Properly sending your music to commercial radio stations 

The first step in getting radio play is sending your music to radio stations.

Distributing music to commercial radio stations used to involve sending CDs, printing cover letters, bubble envelopes, researching radio stations, finding the right contact information and paying shipping fees. Now over 95% of the music played on commercial radio is received digitally. 


Each radio station has a Music Director and Program Director; together they decided what songs they’ll be playing on their radio station in a weekly music meeting.
So how do you get your song included in these music meetings?


It’s the Music Directors job to pre-listen to the music and decide which songs they will listen to in each music meeting. The first step is sending your music to the Music Director properly.

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Five Of The Best Jobs You Can Get In The Music Industry With A College Degree

What kind of career lies ahead in your future with a degree in music? You may think there aren’t many options, but there is plenty of variety offered in this field of study. Surprisingly, there are quite a few options for those who graduate with a degree in music. Here are five career paths that will have you living your dream within the industry.

Music Arranger

A music arranger is a person whose main role is to arrange the music for a performer, group, conductor, producer or a music director. He or she makes sure that the music is arranged perfectly from the instruments and harmony, all the way down to the beat. It is important a quality arranger has a degree. There is a lot of required knowledge of instruments, music theory and reading and writing of music involved in such a career.

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MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: | SoundOut, TuneCore Track Smarts, ReverbNation Crowd Review, AudioKite, and Music Xray Compared