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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).

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).

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Wednesday
Apr282010

Musicians on the Internet - Strategy Vs Tactics My Interview with CD Baby's Brian Felsen

Watch the video…

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Wednesday
Apr282010

The Top Ten Reasons Fans Don’t Buy Your Merch

I thought I would follow up Jed’s post titled The Four Reasons Fans Buy Your Products with this quick post on ten reasons why they don’t (assuming your live show is dialed in):  

10.  You never create anything different.  It’s the same merch you were pushing two years ago, but you tried to change 2008 to 2010 with a Sharpie.

09.  Your merch looks like your little sister drew it…using crayons.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr282010

The Death of the Bridge

Many of my all-time favorite songs are “growers” - album tracks that don’t really grab you the first few spins, but eventually dig their hooks in and don’t let go. Few artists these days have the luxury of writing growers, because listeners aren’t willing to invest that kind of time. Unless the artist is proven to deliver, the listener will tune out and move on. While I’m a huge fan of the album format, it’s hard to deny the shifting focus from albums to individual songs. Every one of those songs needs to grab the listener’s attention and hold it until the last note - preferably longer! In order for your songs to be grabbers rather than growers, they must have clear and familiar structures.

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Tuesday
Apr272010

The Bricks With Which You Will Build Your Palace...

There are an awful lot of bands out there who spend their time thinking about the future. They imagine everything they’ve ever wanted, but fail to give themselves fully to what’s already in front of them. It’s like the minimum wage worker who says to himself that he’ll start to care when he gets paid more. Meanwhile, the fact that he doesn’t commit himself to his work will keep him stuck where he is.

I see it out here in L.A. a lot. Bands will play clubs like the Whisky and the Roxy before they’re ready to. They call on every last one of their fans to do them a favor and come out to the show to help make them look good for whomever they think may be watching. What ends up happening is that their fans fight through traffic to spend $15 to park, $15 to get in and $7 for a beer. For that kind of money, you’d better put on a show. Generally what happens though is that the club doesn’t care about the band, the sound guy doesn’t know who they are and there are 5 other bands on the bill, so they end up going on late and/or getting their set cut short and playing a show that’s worth $5 in front of people who payed a lot more.

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Tuesday
Apr272010

The 4 Reasons Fans Buy Your Products

I was on a recent panel in Memphis, TN, for The Recording Academy called “Grammy GPS: A Roadmap for Today’s Music Business.” The topic of my panel was Direct-to-Fan (DTF) commerce. In preparation, I pored over data (anecdotal and empirical) from the last 3+ years of working with Artists, Labels and Managers, including recent data from our online DTF product Reverb Store that launched in January of this year.

The first thing that dawned on me was how much DTF commerce is already taking place, offline, in the form of the ubiquitous merch table at virtually every concert on the planet. The Artist Revenue Survey we conducted in 2008 revealed that more than 50% of our Artists total revenue came from playing live shows and selling merch and music at those shows.

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Monday
Apr262010

Loren Weisman Launches Site, Service and Book

Many MTT readers know Loren Weisman from his articles on this site.  Based in the Seattle area, Loren runs a music enterprise for independent musicians that specializes in production, promotion, marketing and branding.  Loren just finished his book titled The Artist’s Guide To Success In The Music Business.

I have not read the book, but if you have a minute check out Loren’s website.  The site is excellent and the pictures put a trusted face behind the author and his services.

 

Tuesday
Apr202010

Interview: Twitter Millionaire Zoe Keating on the Value of True Fan Connections

What unsigned artist wouldn’t kill to have 1.4 million Twitter followers?

As the old channels die out, social media is where music fans are gathering. Yet musical artists who aren’t celebrities have little choice but to grow their online fanbases much in the same way that they build audiences on tour: by working hard, being there and showing individual fans that they value their support on a personal level.

The story is no different for Zoe Keating. The classically trained, experimental cellist even has it a bit tougher, given her chosen medium: one-woman instrumental composition with cello and computerized loops.

Yet here she sits with 1,376,265 Twitter followers and counting. And that massive follower base was arrived at in large part by luck. But many of them have stuck around because Keating gives them reasons to.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr192010

Never Underestimate The Value Of Respect.

In 2000 I was at the Impact Urban Music conference in Nashville, Tennessee being held at Opryland. I was working for the VP of Marketing and Promotion at Def Jam running his independent record promotion company. I was always looking for something new. I was invited to many showcases. One of them was for a small North Carolina independent label called Soulife Records. I went. It was in a big room and it was only me, a few guys from the label and 8 stuff shirted Indian doctors from the pharmaceutical business who had backed the label. No one else had shown up. It was kind of depressing. So

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Thursday
Apr152010

Idol Thoughts… the 4 Key Factors That Michael Lynche Posseses That Make Him A Great American Idol & A Lifelong Artist

Yesterday, I guest lectured at NYU for a group of Music Business students. One of them asked me an excellent question:

Is there a formula for success in today’s music business?

I told him that if I had the answer I’d be a lot richer! But then I stopped to think about it. Artists that have success are the ones who know what they want. They have a clear vision of what they see for themselves, and that vision is different for everyone. They may not even know how exactly they are going to get there but there are 4 key elements.

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Wednesday
Apr142010

Information Is Dangerous

Recently, a blog that I subscribe to (and respect) called Information Is Beautiful published a post titled How Much Do Music Artists Earn Online.

The title of post and the data within the accompanying chart is accurate enough to be interesting.  However I vehemently disagree with the premise, which seems to (unintentionally?) imply that somehow streaming, Last.FM or Spotify spins (or any new music technology) equate to something negative.  Bullshit.

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Thursday
Apr012010

Have you ridden a windhorse?

Thanks to my first true friend Grasmaand, for the last twenty years; as I have moved from industry to industry, I have carried the image of a Tibetan windhorse with me from one venture to another.

Hard work, relationships and creative output have never gotten me where I wanted to go; it’s always been a windhorse that carried me someplace else.   

Strangely enough, the destination was never a place where I intended a go; it’s just a place I ended up.  

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Monday
Mar292010

Dave Kusek on The Cloud, Topspin, Hype Machine, SoundCloud, and the death of MySpace

Dave Kusek, the author of The Future of Music, is a man who needs no introduction but just in case you don’t already know him he’s Vice President at Berklee College of Music and he is responsible for managing the online music school, Berkleemusic.com.  He also  recently launched a  new service that helps musicians empower themselves called, Music Power Network.

Since he is a prolific blogger, futurist and strategist, I wanted to ask him his opinion about some of the hottest buzzwords in the Music Business Today: The Cloud, Topspin, Hype Machine, SoundCloud the death of MySpace,

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar292010

Music and merch. Bands over-think design. Fans want big loud logos.

If you think fans will buy obscure, under-branded and highly unique items, think again…

I just read another great interview from Rick Goetz (Musician Coaching).  This interview was with John Mathiason from Cinder Block.  Cinder Block handles merch for artists like Kid Rock, the Dixie Chicks, the Pixies and many others. 

It’s probably safe to say that John knows what he’s talking about when he claims fans prefer big logos.  Here’s a quote:

I discovered something early on in terms of how product development works, and it was really interesting. Bands would over-think designs and what they wanted to present to their fan base, and it would always be something cool and indie and something somebody in the band would wear. The problem was, nobody would ever buy it. It looked cool, and it would be something somebody in the band would wear, but the fans weren’t interested in it. They wanted something that had a big giant logo on it and is some sort of statement about, “I’m a member of this club.”  If you’re walking in with some t-shirt that doesn’t say the band’s name on it and is hidden someplace, you’re not really expressing that. What always ends up selling is a band’s logo.

The entire post is informative and worthwhile reading for any artist.