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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
Dec142010

The Unfamiliar Sound of Competition and Managing Your Rights

Up until now, music was in a unique competitive product category: there simply wasn’t much competition (for consumer attention) between well-made songs.   

Songs are inexpensive, consumed in under four minutes, easily obtained, and songs are the only product in the world where billions of users…each own thousands of ‘competing’ alternatives.  In reality, uniformly-priced competitors are often stacked up and then consumed in succession, and in the age of the iPod, the stacks (the playlists) are growing instead of shrinking. 

However the modern world conspires to ultimately deliver, in every product category, the greatest value at the lowest price, and songs are about to loose their long held exception. 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec132010

Bob Marley: The Transformative Sound of Selling Out

Bob Marley comes across as the ultimate musical rebel, though everyone—from American frat boys to Malian army officers—loves his music. Wildly successful, Marley is an enigma: Someone who managed to put obscure local music on the world map; who turned a marginalized community (Rastafarians) into admired trendsetters; who remained a humble barefooted guy even when tooling around in a BMW; who sold a boatload of records by sticking to his guns and making his music, his way. How did he do it?

He didn’t. Marley sold out.

Before you protest, think about it. Imagine, for a second, that a major figure in a subcultural movement—Minor Threat/Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye of the U.S. hardcore punk scene, let’s say—joined forces with a mainstream hip hop producer like will.i.am, and made a really great record that stayed on the charts for eons and moved units in the gazillions. Though some die-hard fans might scream that he’d sold out, he would have transformed the musical landscape.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec102010

UPDATED: Can Computers Analyze Songs For Hit Potential? 

In response to the ASCAP/HITLAB announcement that basically endorses the use of algorithms to analyze the hit potential of songs, I thought I would weigh in on the subject.

Proceed with caution…
As someone that spent the better part of a year evaluating similar algorithms, technology, services, business models and patents connected to acoustic analysis and hit potential measurement, I can tell you that you should proceed with caution when making a purchase or career decision that involves the utilization of services that sell computer-based, hit-analysis technology. 

It’s fascinating technology, however…
Generally speaking, the technology is reasonably accurate (my experience: 80% accurate, and often close enough to my expectations) when it comes to plotting a song relative to a cluster of preexisting hits and then rolling the plots into a meaningful score.  However a high score doesn’t mean you have a hit on your hands, or that “hits” even matter anymore.  Read on…

Here are some pros and cons to consider when evaluating services that use computers and algorithms to evaluate music:

Computer-based hit analyzing technology - the pros…

Targeting.  If detailed reporting is offered, this technology should show you how close your song is to clusters of previously recorded hits.  This information is useful for targeting listeners of similar sounding hit songs. 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec092010

What If You Owned Music Think Tank?

It’s been a few months since the Hypebot team has taken over the stewardship of Music Think Tank. In that time, we’ve published some really spectacular material along with a couple of things that did not deserve to be featured in this thoughtful forum. Along the way, we’ve learned and are (we hope) slowly improving how we do things and the quality of the content.  But now that we’ve got our bearings, it’s time to ask for feedback: If you ran Music Think Tank, how would you do things differently?

For example
:
  • Should we more or less selective with the articles that we publish on the home page?
  • Does the current level of self-promotion in some posts bother you or is it payback for sharing their content?
  • Are there additional voices that you wished were represented here?
  • Are there topics that you wish we’re covered more on MTT?
  • Do you listen to MTT Radio and if so, how can we improve it?
  • (Your great idea here.)

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec082010

What’s The Best Music Business Model? You Might Be Playing It Every Day

Have you bought a video game recently? Have you ever made an in-game purchase? Do you consider pre-roll, banner or in-game advertising acceptable? Do you think buying video games online or on a mobile device is normal? Has the video game industry turned social networking into a revenue generator through multiplayer gaming?

Every day, I’m meeting people who could answer “yes” to all these questions - which raised a very important question in my own mind: if we replace the word “game” with “music,” why aren’t these answers still “yes?”

The music industry has a lot to learn from the video game industry. We’ve finally gotten past the “save the CD” era, but the music industry is still lagging when it comes to proactively developing new business models. Just as the video game industry has continually adapted and reinvented itself in the last few decades – arcades to consoles to mobile to online to apps to ad-supported and so on – the music industry must learn to quickly spot new consumer trends and behaviors, and then adapt the technology and business models to turn those trends into new revenue streams.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec072010

MTT Open: Google Music, Recording Vocals, & Is the Internet Dead?

Hakim Callier writes about the art of recording vocals. He talks about different aspects of recording from the perspectives of an audio engineer and a vocalist. The producer or engineer usually wants the vocalist to be comfortable to get the best recording. Read on for more details on the art of recording.

“This is important because in a musical production, the human voice not only tells the story of the song, by communicating the emotions and sentiment through language and other expressions, but it naturally wants to be heard above all else because of its frequency range.” (Read On)

Google Music Shuts Out Independent Artists

Noe Pacheco posts details about Google’s plans for a music service which outlines ways to help major artists, but doesn’t mention independent artists. The proposed plan is for a cloud-based service where consumers keep their music in a locker for $25 a year and can be streamed or downloaded. Google’s music service poses as an iTunes competitor. However, many major online music retailers are still leaving out indie artists that may be worthy of the service.

“Today, “quality” indie music is being made and is available for purchase. It would just be great for the music to be sold on such a large platform.” (Read On)

Click to read more ...

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 ...