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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
How To Make Your SXSW Sticky! Advice From The Indie Max 100 Experts on How To Keep Your Conference Alive
So you FINALLY went to SXSW, and now after days of music, food, panels and networking (*phew*), you’re back home. So what can you do now to maximize your time spent in Austin? Here are a few pieces of advice. Plus a few photos I took at SXSW 2010 - Full album on Facebook
AFTER YOU GET HOME
Create Your Own Lasting Media
So, no blog covered your performance? No photographer snapped your photo for Rolling Stone? That’s OK! Make your own media around your experience at SXSW. Write up a blog about what you did, and who you met, and post it on your MySpace, Facbook and Last.fm. Snap photos and post them on Facebook and Flickr with tags, or record some videos for your YouTube Channel! Let your experience live online for years to come!
- Ariel Hyatt
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(Updated Feb 25, 2014)