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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
May202010

10 Ideas For Recording Amazing Guitars

Recording guitars, although easy at first can be a challenge when you really want to achieve a great sound. Here are some helpful tips to improve your guitar recording chops.

1. Set Up Your Guitar
Amazing guitar tones start with the player. Recording a great song with a good player is always key. Beyond the player, the instrument must be in top shape as well. Sending your guitar to be professionally set up is a great way to ensure your guitar tracks are properly in tune and there are no buzzes, squeaks or hums coming from the instrument. A professional set up will also allow the guitar to play easier and feel better, which will help to create a better performance.

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Wednesday
May192010

Musicians: SIGN UP FOR SQUARE RIGHT NOW

This post originally appeared on Brenden Mulligan’s blog on May 11, 2010. Brenden is the founder of ArtistData and can be found on twitter @bmull. He is in no way associated with the company Square.

Musicians have a lot to deal with while on the road. One of those things is the organization and sale of CDs, T-Shirts, and other merch. These days, it’s the ticket and merch sales that pay for the gas, the new drumsticks and guitar strings, the food and drinks, and every other expense on tour. So musicians have to be smart about making as much money on the road as possible.

Today, an exciting startup exited private beta that I believe every musician who tours should sign up for immediately. It’s called Square, and I’ve been publicly excited about it for a while now. At the helm is the guy who invented Twitter, which turned out to be a pretty good idea. The goal of the company is to make accepting credit cards dead simple.

Let me break it down. Download the app, create an account, order a free card reader, start accepting payments. Yep. That simple. And the rates are incredibly fair with no contract or monthly fee. That means if you don’t like it, you can just stop using it. There’s no reason not to try it.

So back to the musicians: By allowing your fans to pay with credit cards, you’ll sell more merch. Yes, you’ll have to pay a fee that isn’t present when only accepting cash, but you’ll sell more merch. So let’s update the process I posted before. Download the app, create an account, order a free card reader, start accepting payments, sell more merch than before.

The YouTube video is below. Watch it and then go download the app. Seriously.

Unfortunately, Square is only currently available in the US.

Thursday
May132010

If a Tree Falls in the Woods Can You Call It Music?

Anybody who wants to do anything in the world of art or music that affirms life and living is fine by me. Where our paths diverge however, is when that one begins to propagate the idea that the only requirement to fall under the definition of music is for there to be a sound or a collection of sounds.

Definitions are important; without the boundaries necessary for something to be defined, anything could be called anything and nonsense would result. So it is important to require some exclusivity in the definition of music. To be so inclusive as to merely require the presence of sound is to redefine music and consequently collapse it’s meaning.  There is obviously nothing wrong with sound for the sake of sound, but for the love of art –please don’t put it in the same category as Beethoven’s 9th or the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May112010

In Defense of 1,000 True Fans - Jerry Joseph: How Does The Theory Work When You Already HAVE 1,000 True Fans? - Part VIII

I was having coffee and catch-up with manager and publicist extraordinaire Patrice Fehlen a few months ago and we started talking about my “In Defense of 1,000 True Fans” series on MusicThinkTank. She mentioned something that I think makes an interesting angle:

Jerry Joseph  (who she manages) already has a fanbase of 1,000 true fans who sustain and support him.  So his challenge is not to “get” to 1,000 fans but to keep them actively engaged and inspired to stay in his fan family as he continues to release albums and tour. I asked him how he does that and he generously dished the details.

Before we dive in: Jerry Joseph is an artist who in my humble opinion needs no introduction.  In case you don’t know who he is (and you should, he is fantastic) here’s a brief overview:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May112010

The measurable music industry, as described by Britain's Chief Measurer of Music Industry

Last month, I recorded a video of PRS Chief Economist Will Page delivering his State of the Music Industry address at a Born to Be Wide event in Edinburgh. This is a video that has done the rounds, and Will has been somewhat floored by the response it has received.

This video has been shown in the corporate boardrooms of major record labels, Google, the collection societies - and has been republished by Techdirt, Hypebot and Digital Media Wire.

Click to read more ...

Monday
May102010

The measurable music world peaked a long time ago. The immeasurable music world has a long way to go.

Since the year 2000, the WORLD has gained almost a billion people, 100 million blogs and websites, 100 million films and short videos, millions of hours of television programming, millions of square feet of public performance space, hundreds of thousands of artists, millions of songs - and it all comes on top of what already existed. Expansion is cumulative.

Click to read more ...

Monday
May102010

5 Ideas For Creating a Rabid Online Fan Base

I’m a sucker for infographics. Yesterday during my morning ritual of combing through RSS feeds, I stumbled across this little ditty which detailed the 5 steps a consumer brand should take in order to gain “social currency” – which is essentially convoluted marketing speak  for “online fans”.

I thought I’d take a moment to make a cross-post that explains how what artists and aspiring rock stars can take away from these steps.  So here we go – five round-about suggestions for creating a rabid online fan base:

Click to read more ...

Friday
May072010

The music industry is financially healthy. I will pay you to prove me wrong…

Since I am pressed for time these days, here’s a financial incentive to do my work for me:  The first person to definitively prove, with a verifiable fact, the statement I make in the next paragraph, I will PayPal you $100.  This offer will never expire.

Globally, over the last 365 days, for all genres combined, for all artists that started performing live in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90, and 00s, cumulatively, there is more revenue being generated from live performances, combined with selling stuff (merch, music, apps, advertising slots, streams, licensing, publishing, etc.), than any other year in the history of the world.  Moreover the graph of this number is sloping up and not down.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May062010

The Free Music Mirage

Some music for free, certainly; all music for free, no. The time has come to put an end to the persistent illusion that recorded music in the 21st century “must” be free.

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Thursday
May062010

How To Deliver Remarkable Value

This is a post I wrote for a non-music related site.  Since so many people are contributing value to artists these days, I thought I would post it here.  Additional suggestions are welcome.

Unless your PR / marketing person thoroughly (underlined ten times) understands your products and customers, don’t turn over the task of delivering remarkable value to him or her.

To inexpensively win the search engine game (to rank near the top on the left side of Google), you have to be capable of creating something that is uncommon, remarkable and extraordinary.  You have to try to create something that the community wants to share and promote for you…

A gentle warning: If you expend too much energy promoting your company and brand, your effort to deliver remarkable value will come across as a disguised advertisement.  Be subtle when promoting your brand, services and products.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May062010

Future Now: At The Coalface

Here’s the next interview in an ongoing series with music industry people who can help give perspective to the changes and predictions for the future of the business.  I’ve included the whole interview as it’s pretty short, but go to my blog (Timothy London) to read it in context and for my own tuppence-worth.

Someone who does both like and understand (music) is Pascal Gabriel, a Belgian born producer/songwriter who first had hits with S’Express and Bomb The Bass in the late 80s.  Since then, he has worked with a huge selection of top pop artists, from New Order, Kylie, Erasure, Ladyhawke, Little Boots, Goldfrapp and Marina And The Diamonds and many more.

How different are the budgets now from ten or fifteen years ago when recording major label artists?

They have been much much reduced. You used to make an album for, on average 100-150k, now if you have 50k that’s not bad.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May042010

Barking Up The Wrong Chart

Why is it that sites like underjams.com, mudcat.org, museum.tv, and twenty thousand other sites are more popular than the websites run by U2, DMB or Coldplay?

It certainly has very little to do with momentary entertainment value of the content.  You would be hard pressed to find someone that would not enjoy U2’s or Coldplay’s content over the content presented by most of the top 20,000 sites on the Quantcast list.

Click to read more ...

Monday
May032010

On My Mind: The State of the Music Business

I finally got around to reading John Mellencamp’s post of the same title (above) on The Huffington Post.  After 618 comments, John’s post was closed to further comments, so I am leaving my comments below.

When well-known artists (or their managers) pen something, I usually find a bit of a rant, some tired history, minimal solutions, a big audience, lots of fan comments, and very little substance.  This post did not surprise me.   However, there are a couple of things I want to selectively respond to:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Apr302010

Your Three Communities, Part 1

I’m just back from an amazing trip to Los Angeles where I attended and spoke at the ASCAP Expo. I also hosted a networking mixer at the house for 50 musicians from my community in Brooklyn and so I have been thinking a lot about community lately, and I have some thoughts:

Every artist has three separate communities.

Community #1: Your Super Fans
These are fans who are primarily Your Live Audience.You know them by name. If you play out live, they attend your shows regularly, and buy many things you offer (not just music). If you have a street team they are on it and they evangelize strongly on your behalf.

Community #2: Engaged Fans
These fans are your Active Online Audience. They are newsletter subscribers, blog readers, video watchers, RSS subscribers, active Social Media engagers who frequently comment & engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Community #3: Ambient Fans
These fans are your Passive Online Audience and they are your social media friends who are aware of you via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm, etc. but don’t actively communicate with you and may not have ever even heard your music (yet).

Click to read more ...