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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
Oct262010

MySpace Still Rules Google Search Results for Music Acts

Given that it’s pretty much dormant (and we never did much with it in the first place), I’m always surprised to see our MySpace page show up as one of the top three results whenever I do a vanity Google search for my band. I was curious to see the Google rank for the MySpace pages of well-known artists and conducted a quick search experiment last week. It wasn’t exhaustive — I just started with some of the bigger “indie rock” names of the past decade and threw in a handful of classic rock acts as well. Also, for band names of more than one word, I didn’t put quote marks around the full name, I just typed the band name and hit return, figuring that’s what most people would do when conducting a search.

For most of the acts, the Google Music Search player appears at the top of the results (no surprise there). And in almost every case, the band’s MySpace page was one of the top five search results. Of the 10 other artists I conducted searches for, Led Zeppelin was the only one where a MySpace page wasn’t one of the top 10 search results. Facebook only made two top-10 appearances (one of which was a search for my own band), though it was in the 11th or 12th spot for several acts. Last.fm made a surprisingly strong appearance and was a top-10 result for almost every artist.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct252010

7 Reasons Why Writing Well Will Help Your Music Career

As crazy as it sounds, the art of learning how to write well will immensely help in your journey to make a living with your music.

Everything from properly targeted emails to self-penned biographies and album press releases are areas where writing well can have a direct impact on your success in the new music industry.

The great thing about writing is, it’s fairly simple to learn. Set a goal, and write a set amount of words per day. It just might help you in the following ways:

1. Blog Reviews

Want music bloggers’ to review your music? Then you need to create a personal, well targeted email directed solely at them. If your message looks like it’s been cut and pasted to 500 other blogs, you probably won’t get many reviews.

Develop your writing to create relevant emails, that will catch the attention of each individual music blogger.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct212010

The Real and ONLY Reasons Why Fans File-Share Music

Thus far, we’ve looked at eight reasons why fans file-share music.

Mainly, they’re unaware of the number of legal and alternative options to consume music that are available; they want to hear music and grow to like the songs before they buy them; or they don’t know the artist, either not well enough or at all, or don’t trust them, due to recent line-up or sound changes. Rebuilding that trust takes time and isn’t easy.

As well, fans file-share music when there’s too many hoops to jump through on an artist’s website or because the offer that the artist made, whether by price, package, or delivery, was terrible. Next, we looked at the role that the biases of digital technologies play into file-sharing—the different ranges of social behavior they promote in audiences.

We also tried to understand how choice overload can cause decision paralysis, leading fans to become overwhelmed. To cope, they take the path of least resistance, attempt to explore all of their options at once, and end up committing to no decision at all.

Lastly, we looked at how fans employ their own Internet law of economics when buying music and end up file-sharing it to mitigate the risk purchasing with an album they wouldn’t have otherwise bought. A number of motivations were intentionally left out of this analysis. Let us now explore some of the more common reasons why fans file-share:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct192010

How To Post A Perfect Press Kit On Your Website

I’m often amazed when I go to an artist’s website, and I look around, and I’m trying to find basic press information and I can’t.

It seems that in the age of Twitter, Facebook, and Facebook Fan pages, and constantly focusing on your two-way conversations, we’ve forgotten the important basics.

This is a revised excerpt from my book, Music Success in Nine Weeks, (which, btw 65 artists are blogging their way through I’m proud to say) and it talks about an asset that no matter what we all face with new digital solutions, new platforms and apps that we’re going to be forced to learn, we should always remember: Your press kit.

It’s up to you to post your press information clearly and succinctly, so that you’re easy to find and write about. Posting an accessible press kit to share with journalists and new media makers( bloggers, podcasters, etc.)  is good common sense.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct182010

10 Things Bands Can Do to Book More Live Shows

Assuming that you have strong songs and an kickass live show, here are ten (10) simple things you can do to get more gigs:

1. Create a YouTube channel for your band.

Upload a live performance video on YouTube that represents your band at its best. Include a phone number and e-mail address too, so that anyone who wants to book you can contact you easily. Say something like “Contact ________ to book us for a live show.” To show professionalism and interest, try your best to respond to every inquiry within 48 hours.

2. Print up nice business cards

…with your band name, links to your music, live videos, and a phone number and e-mail address that can be reached for booking purposes. Also, include a link to your website so they can learn more about you. You’d be surprised how many bands STILL write down their phone numbers on dirty napkins and torn pieces of paper. Wherever you go, tell people who you are, how good you are, where you are playing next, and how easy it is for them to book you directly.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct182010

Music & Social Shifts (a personal account)

I remember as a kid in the late 1970s that where I lived there were three television stations & no cable or VCRs or home video games.  My oldest brother is seven years older than me & the big thing with him & his friends was coming over to the house & playing whatever new vinyl record loud enough to rattle the paneling on the wall.  It was a social event.  New albums & a decent stereo were the center of the social world & what made you the coolest kid in school & my family’s house was a center for cool.  Every new Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, or Kiss release meant a week of non-stop rocking.

A couple of years later my other brother hit high school, the center of things in teenage social events had shifted from music to a couple of things; the Atari gaming system & the VCR.  This time around our family wasn’t at the center of a social circle & my brother spent most afternoons at some other family’s house. Until my dad broke down & got us the Atari & VCR so that thirty years later I can still close my eyes & pretend I’m playing Yars’ Revenge & still have dreams inspired by watching Dawn of the Dead when I was eight.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct162010

New In MTT Open: Publishing, T Bone Burnett vs. the Internet, & OK Go

With over 40 years of experience in the music and entertainment industry, T Bone Burnett surprised the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit at Georgetown University when he said that the future of music is analog. This was shocking because most of the music industry conference has been focused on the Internet and digitization. David D has posted about T Bone Burnett’s concern about the quality of recorded music such as the MP3. What do you think about the quality of recorded music? Do you care more about convenience or about better quality? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

“To someone starting out at as an artist today, his advice would be “stay completely away from the Internet.” (Read on and watch the video)

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct152010

A Fragmented Music Community: The Sum of the Parts Equals Less than the Whole

Music is so spread out online these days. Why? And why do artists not get paid for all the free plays they give away on these websites? These are two huge questions that I’ve been studying, and the answers are well worth addressing.

Part of music being so spread out has to do with the fact that the internet is still fragmented itself. The web is still set up like our real world - you have “sites” with their own “addresses” and you have to physically go to them. This is part of the problem for sure, and it turns out that it is actually easily solvable. With the software, you can pretty much make up your own rules, which means you could make everything just come to the user instead, almost like the iphone model, where every app is in one spot waiting for you at all times. That’s another topic though.

The rest of the problem really seems to be about preference. There are hundreds of music sites out there, and certain fans, or fan-bases, like to stick to certain ones for certain reasons. It could be the difference in interfaces or the difference in people in the network, but it usually has to do with simple preference.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct142010

The Music Manipulation Curve (theory)

As the effort (time and cost) required to create a highly-personalized listening session of music (see blue bars below) decreases, the per-person rate of music consumption will proportionately increase (see green bars below).

If there has been one constant in the music industry over the last one hundred years, it has been the constant migration to listening formats (easier formats) that reduce the effort required to create highly-personalized listening sessions. You can’t play a phonograph on the bus or clip it to your shorts at the gym.

Moreover, easier formats that can be summoned on-demand (for any given situation) will displace any format that requires more effort to produce the same result.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct132010

Ask The Readers: Do Music Fans Today Have Too Much Control?

The other day, Click Track, a blog at The Washington Post, posed this rather interesting question, “Does the 21st century music fan have too much control?”

In the advent of a world where fans can make global superstars out of rubbish on American Idol, fund artist’s careers using platforms like PledgeMusic and Kickstarter, and band together in an attempt to get Weezer to stop making records, the editors feared that fans today have too much control. They didn’t seem to have the audience needed to get answers to that question. So I thought I would put it open for discussion here.

Do fans today have too much control and what are the implications of this?

Tuesday
Oct122010

Does Your Music Always Come Out the Way You Want It To?

Creativity is as much a sickness as it is a gift.

On the one hand, creators are blessed with a lifetime of opportunities to bring their visions into the real world. On the other, most of them are tormented by insecurity, doubts, and the never-ending struggle of trying to create the ideal things their imaginations conjure up. The latter is one of the subjects in an editorial, “Found in Translation,” that the Pulitzer Prize (and PEN/Faulkner Award)-winning author Michael Cunningham published in this past Sunday’s New York Times.

“Found in Translation” begins by discussing the mechanics and challenges of translating a novel from one language to another, before moving on to the more personal challenge of turning one’s vision into a piece of art. The transfer of instincts, ideas, images, and emotions to words on a page or computer screen is, after all, basically just several layers of translation, and midway through Cunningham’s editorial, an unusually honest passage can be found:

Here’s a secret. Many novelists, if they are pressed and if they are being honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they’d intended to write.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct112010

7 Best WordPress Plugins for Passive Promotion

I’m convinced that WordPress is the most powerful and easily implemented website platform for musicians. Most of my social networking efforts are aimed at directing traffic to my band site, which serves as my base of operations. Countless free plugins allow me to add new features and customize to my heart’s content.

I recently overhauled both of my WordPress sites (colortheory.com and passivepromotion.com are functionally identical), exploring all the popular plugins from each category. Despite my best efforts to keep things lean and mean, I ended up installing 23. All are free, as is WordPress. The only thing I’ve paid for is the Thesis theme, which handles the look and feel of the site, search engine optimization, and other behind-the-scenes details I don’t care to figure out on my own.

I don’t have time to babysit my sites every day, so I’m always on the lookout for new ways to “set it and forget it.”

Here are my seven best WordPress plugins for passive promotion:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct082010

4 Reasons Why Fans Are File-Sharing Your Music (And Why They Can't Be Changed)

Last time, we looked at four reasons why fans are file-sharing an artist’s music—that they can change. These are simple solutions that any artist can act on and ensure that their fans aren’t motivated to file-share their music for reasons such as being unaware of alternative and legal options to consume their music or unable to hear the entire album before they buy it. Furthermore, new fans may not trust the artist because they don’t have enough name recognition or the artist has since changed their sound. Lastly, there may simply be too many “hoops” or clicks to jump through before fans can download or buy their album, so they resort of file-sharing it because it’s a proven, effective, and easy to use interface that works every time and is only a few clicks away; it’s also habitual.

These are all causes of file-sharing that artists can acknowledge and take steps toward preventing. In some cases, it’s simple solutions that matter. Educate your fans on the ways they can legally access your music, for free; allow them to stream albums before they buy them; build trust with your current audience and potential fans; and ensure that buying your music from your website or iTunes is the most quick and easiest way to access paying for music. If these general needs aren’t met, it could lead fans to download music that they may not have otherwise. Trouble is, these aren’t the only reasons why fans file-share. Here’s the four reasons fans file-share that artists can’t change:

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct072010

20 Alternative Ways To Create A Sustainable Career In Music

The idea that any emerging artist can become the next multi-platnum recording artist is null and void. Save for very rare instances, there is just not the level of demand in music that creates the necessary environment for a superstar to develop, and those who do break through at that level either had the connections or the marketing team that was smart enough to mold the musician to look and sound exactly how the labels want them to.  But this is nothing new.

As the DIY Musician movement strengthens, musicians are continually gaining more understanding as to how they can sustain a career in music without the need to sign to a record label and sell over 1 million copies. There is a seemingly limitless way for musicians to use their knowledge of any and all aspects of music to create a sustainable career doing what they love:

Music Licensing

Music licensing is a great opportunity for any aspiring musician to get paid for their recorded works to appear in TV and film. Helen Austin, a musician who has dedicated her career in music to licensing her works has put together a wonderful article on laying out the 4 Steps to Film and TV Placement.

Click to read more ...