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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
Jan062011

Buy One, Give One Free: What Artists Can Learn From Social Entrepreneurship

One of my greatest frustrations with respect to marketing has been that while I speak often about human’s predisposition to share, we’ve yet — in the entertainment realm — developed a way to encourage/reward sharing/sharers.

A bit of background. It was when music/books/movies/etc. went from being objects (analog) to being information (digital) that people could finally satisfy their hard-wired impulse to share with no downside.

Prior to this, if I wanted to share an album/book/DVD with you, when I gave it to you I was deprived of my copy — you win, I half lose/half win. Post the shift to information, when I share my digital versions with you, I still keep my copy — we both win.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan062011

My 2011 Project: 2,000 Things to Generate 20,000 Fans

Author David Meerman Scott made a honest and realistic quote, “if you want 20,000 fans you must do 2,000 different things that each generate 10 fans.” This was my favorite quote from 2010 and I am going to take this on as a challenge for 2011 for an ambitious project to give you 2000 different things you can do to generate 20,000 fans.

I am defining generating fans in a few different ways:

  1. A brand new fan who has never followed you before.
  2. Engaging with existing fans to get them to participate.
  3. Engaging with existing fans to get them to convert on an action.

Some of these items will apply better for larger acts, some items will work for any act. Some may work for you, some may not… not yet. Some these can be done with little effort, some will take some web development, some might even require some significant development. Some of these have successfully worked for me over the years.

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Wednesday
Jan052011

A Musician's Guide To Setting And Achieving Goals For 2011

It’s a new year and a clear slate is in front of all of us. The turning of the calendar from 2010 to 2011 is an ideal time to set your goals. I see a marked difference between artists who set finite goals and those who do not.

Many of you may have seen a previous version of this article (or another one) on setting goals as they crop up at this time of year.

Ask yourself: Is this the year I want to make a difference for my musical career?  And if so – what difference and how?

Think of goal setting as if you were driving in a foreign place - You wouldn’t get where you expect to go without a clear set of directions.

Goal setting is like drawing a map for yourself.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan032011

The Day Spotify Changed The World

At the dawn of a new decade, the digital music sector remains unchanged.

Spotify didn’t launch in 2010. If it had though, would we be different now? I think so. Had it been made available in the U.S., an iPod type moment could’ve occurred. It could’ve.

And it still could. I’m not saying this out of blind evangelism either. Looking at the social features of Spotify more closely, I’m starting to believe Daniel Ek’s proclamation that music will displace photos on Facebook in popularity. Photo sharing is the lifeblood of Facebook, as are games like FarmVille and CityVille. Status updates and link sharing also play a big role. We like to see what our friends (and strangers) are doing and hear what they’ve been up to. However, a large majority of people do little with their accounts.

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Wednesday
Dec292010

Should Digital Collections Be Worth Something?

Most people don’t care whether they own music downloads or not.

Of the more than 8 million people that are estimated to buy a Kindle this year, only a small fraction of them understand that the ebooks bought on the device are licensed – not owned – which means they can’t lend or sell their titles. By agreeing to Amazon’s terms of service, which they didn’t read, they’ve accepted these conditions. Soon, single ebook lending may be allowed on the Kindle, but users won’t be allowed to buy used ebooks.

The “first sale” doctrine indicates that consumers can sell their physical books, give them to a library, or do just about anything else. This legal principle covers CDs, DVDs, and videogames too. It enables the used marketplace and retailers like eBay and Amazon to exist and sell used titles. In the digital age, this concept is under fire. It’s no longer clear that consumers should be granted the same rights when they buy digital downloads.

You own an iPod and Kindle, but not the songs or books on them.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec282010

MTT Open: Everyone Is Lying To You And Becoming a Rock Star

Everyone Is Lying To You On Facebook

In Leena Sowambur’s opinion, social networks are not used for advertising and using Facebook to push information is the wrong way to do it. An artist should not think that people are fans just because they have “liked” the artist’s page.

“Just because you push the information out doesn’t mean you have your fans’ or friends’ attention in fact it is highly likely they are blind to it.” (Read On)

The Science of Becoming a Rock Star

Eric Galen shows how great music careers can be made by relating music to science. He uses charts and physics to explain. Read on for his explanation that can help you take control and steer your music career in the right direction.

“Talk to any successful artist, producer or songwriter, and you’ll discover that each of them struggled at one level until a breakthrough happened and their career took a quantum jump ahead.” (Read On)

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec232010

The Beatles Tell Us That We've Hit The Concert Price Ceiling

The recent release of the Beatles catalog on iTunes made me think - what did a ticket to see them at their live peak cost? 

Answer: a prime seat to see the Beatles in Chicago 1966 cost $5.75 - in today’s dollars this is $37.60 - almost ten times less than what you would pay for a huge act today. 

Things were different then of course - touring was done mainly to promote record sales and tickets were priced below market purposely to make sure shows were safely sold out and to reward fans for their record-buying loyalty.  This produced what economists call a consumer surplus.  Some of that surplus was soaked up by the secondary ticketing market.

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Tuesday
Dec212010

How To Use Facebook & Twitter With Your Official Website, Case Study Kissonline.com

A recent headline from KISS on Facebook: ”KISS Facebook Fans Pass 2 Million!”

Congratulations! That is great! Two million fans is a huge achievement and is no easy goal to meet. Then I decided it was time to discuss how to use Facebook and Twitter if you are a band, and sorry, KISS, you are the subject matter. This is not meant to put down the band in any way. I am having discussions weekly with various people about the benefit of Facebook Likes and Twitter followers. They ask what can they do to get more Likes and followers, and then what can they do with them once they have them. I only pick KISS because it is subject I know very well and a Facebook page I visit daily.

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Monday
Dec202010

6 Reasons Why The Album Format Died

I think it’s safe to say that we’re at the end of the “album age,” and although the format will hold on for a while, it’s clearly waning in popularity. I’ve given this a lot of thought and have come up with what I think are the reasons, but be aware, they’re not all exactly what the popular wisdom assumes. So let’s begin with the 6 reasons why the album format has, for all intents and purposes, died.

1) It was a visual experience. The album format in the vinyl record age had the advantage of that wonderful piece of cardboard known as the album jacket. The album jacket contained the cover art (still found on CDs), and most importantly, the liner notes on the back, which we’ll get to in a second. But one thing that everyone either forgets or has never experienced is the fact that millions of albums were purchased completely on impulse because of the album artwork alone!

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec172010

50 Most Read Music Think Tank Posts In 2010

Thursday
Dec162010

Microfunding Is The Future of Labels! (...But Kickstarter Is The Wrong Model For Bands)

By now we’ve all at least heard about Kickstarter. Many of us have helped to fund projects. I’ve supported 5 or 6 myself. The best I can discern is that Kickstarter projects follow one of thee models. The explanations are a bit long, but I hope to tie this back into music and into why I believe the Kickstarter models are mostly not the correct models for funding recordings, but are great models for other types of projects.

Additionally, if I ran Kickstarter, I’d disallow projects that did not meet a stricter set of guidelines because I believe that many projects that are on the site actually damage the Kickstarter brand and the entire concept of microfunding. I end this post with a proposal for a new fan-investment label model that I believe is viable, won’t burn out fan interest in investment, and inherently creates a dedicated “street-team” to help bands promote their work. Let’s start with my taxonomic breakdown of Kickstarter models:

Model 1 - Donation / Support

These projects are designed to produce art, ideas, operations, movements, or objects that supporters want the world to have. These notions (I’ve decided to use the term “notion” to describe everything in this category) are not really owned by any of the supporters and the supporters’ only reward is that they get to know in their warm, fuzzy hearts, that they helped make an otherwise impossible notion come into being.

Click to read more ...

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.

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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 ...