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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).


Swami Sivers on Leadership

In case you have not seen this video on leadership lessons by Derek Sivers, have a look.  This video is destined to be a classic, and it’s one of those YouTube videos that parents should consider showing to their children.

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The five most crucial points for any new artist just starting out...

The following was copied from the interview pertaining to Music Think Tank Andrew Dubber and I gave to the BBC.

1) Decontextualize first, promote second. Artists are in love with their songs/music, and they should be. However, prior to throwing a year of your life into promotion, force yourself to get anonymous feedback from at least thirty friends, twenty artists, and from ten industry professionals. If most love your songs, then promote. Otherwise, go back to the classroom/studio and learn how to make “better” music first.

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a Concept for Reinventing MySpace

Most of the people that show up to a band’s MySpace page are not randomly browsing to find unknown music; rather they already have a specific (and rather obvious) purpose in mind (no specific order):

Purpose 1 - To get information or updates:

Fans want to stay updated.  Casual fans want the essentials.  Super fans want updates on everything.

Purpose 2 - To listen to an artist they already know about:

Previously recommended, or previously discovered, or entering your MySpace page via a Google search, fans are often clicking in to have a (another) listen.

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Digital Distributor Math: Choosing the Right Distributor for Your Band

You are a musician and you want to sell your music on digital retail sites.  You are deciding between two digital distributors to deliver your new album to retailers.  The two distributors, Distributor A and Distributor B, have different payment terms and fees.

  • Distributor A charges a one-time album set-up fee of $20, plus an annual “maintenance” fee of $20, and takes no percentage of your sales (Distributor A passes 100% of the sales revenue it collects on to the artist).

  • Distributor B does not charge any set-up or annual maintenance fees, and takes a 10% cut of your sales revenue (you the artist keep 90%).

Assume both distributors will deliver your content to the same stores and offer identical service except for the payment terms. Which distributor do you choose?

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Man wins Grammy award and then racks up seventy-eight plays on MySpace the next day.

Several days ago, Allan Shadow published a colorful tribute post about David “Honeyboy” Edwards and how he received a Lifetime Achievement (Grammy) award last week. 

Here’s a ninety-four year old man that has given his life to songwriting and music.  How could we (humans) not be somewhat interested in this story?  At least that’s what I thought.

I counted seventy-eight plays on MySpace (where Mr. Edwards’ online presence is maintained) - twenty-four hours later.  It’s kind of shocking at first, but I guess it’s not all that surprising when you think about our culture.

If you have fans, an audience, Twitter followers or Facebook friends, please let’s show this man the ATTENTION he deserves. 

Congratulations Mr. Edwards.


The Musician’s Guide to Facebook Fan Pages - Six Apps to make your Artist Fan Page Pop!

Have a Facebook fanpage but still not sure how to make it pop?

Many artists have been asking me about the bext Apps for their Facebook Fan Pages

Here are six Apps that will set you on the right path, help you to stand out from the pack and keep your fans engaged and interested in you on a consistent basis.

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Honeyboy’s Grammy: A Moment for a Great American Voice

The legendary bluesman David “Honeyboy” Edwards received a lifetime achievement award at last night’s Grammy Awards ceremonies. One of the last of the first generation bluesmen, Honeyboy was a close pal of Robert Johnson and a contemporary of Charley Patton and other blues pioneers.

The 94-year-old Honeyboy was instrumental in establishing a unique American voice, one that was born of slavery and struggle, spirit and magic. It’s a rich history that begat rock and roll and even rap. Artists from Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones to Jay Z emanate from those underpinnings, and many more contemporary artists have paid homage to this field of music from which they came.

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The Flat Earth Conundrum

Here’s a Monday morning riddle for you…

Do you believe crowds of humans will ever (or do now) sway as much control over the rate and depth of media dissemination as the established media machine does now?

It’s easier than ever to make studio-quality songs and great looking videos.

You can easily distribute your music and creations worldwide.

Through promotion tools and strategies, you can continually increase the rate and depth in which your media spreads throughout the world.

However, just as there‘s always someone that’s stronger, faster, smarter or wealthier than any one of us, will there always be entities that can push media faster and deeper into the marketplace than ALL of us (humans) networked together?

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The Song/Artist Adoption Formula - 2010 Update

This in an update to a previous post.

To the extent that a recording artist (versus an entertainer) is the sum of his or her songs, I am going to stipulate that song-adoption equates to artist-adoption.

I effectively use this formula when working with industry startups and artists to concisely communicate (usually on a bar napkin) the challenges that artists face as they attempt to obtain marketplace traction for their songs.

I have updated the formula (below) to recognize the importance of placing unknown songs into a series of songs that are familiar to listeners (the Adjacent Song Factor).

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I Fight Dragons: 1 Band, 1 Year, & 10,000 New Fans - In Defense of 1,000 True Fans - Part V

I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at NAMM last week about how to make money in the music business. Normally when I speak on panels it’s me and a few other Social Media,  Marketing, and PR peeps but this panel which was curated by Tony Van Veen of CD Baby / Discmakers was exceptional because it included an artist who is making it right now…  Brian Mazzaferri, the fearles leader of Chicago’s own I Fight Dragons had incredible insights to share about was his band is doing now to make money in the brave new world of “The old model isn’t quite totally dead yet, but the new model isn’t really proven either.”He took some time to really delve into his thoughts on the theroy and I’m delighted that he shared his insight with me and I know you will be too:

Ariel Hyatt: Do you believe that 1,000 true fans is a theory that can work?

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Rock Band Network for Dummies?

A few weeks ago, Kevin English of eleetmusic got me in to the closed beta of Rock Band Network, which provides the necessary tools to get your songs into the game. When it launches, the RBN Store will sell those songs through the game’s interface, with 30% of the purchase price going back to the artist. Now that the beta is public, you may be eager to dive in, but let me warn you - it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be! Authoring your first song requires a deep skill set and 60-80 hours of focused effort.

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Seth Godin on spreading music and selling intimacy

Reading Seth Godin’s new book called Linchpin, I had some lingering questions on behalf of all the musicians I know.

So I asked him. Here are my questions and his answers:

You say, “the winners are the artists who give gifts”, but many artists I know are feeling like the losers. How would you explain your philosophy of the linchpin economy to a musician who’s making great music, giving it away online, but getting only apathy in return?

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Music Think Tank Notes and Etc.

A new design for Music Think Tank
In case you have not noticed, Music Think Tank is sporting a new look and feel.  Thanks to the excellent work of Kynan Griffiths of Sculpt.  Note:  Sorry, we no longer support IE 6 (Not sure if we ever did?).

MTT Post Categories
Chris Collins, MTT’s intern from the University of Massachusetts has just finished up categorizing all the MTT journal posts (see the left column of the site).  Thanks Chris. 

MTT contributors, especially MTT Radio contributors: please tag and categorize your posts going forward!  It’s one of the best ways for readers to find your posts after they have been pushed off the top page.

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Is Your Wireless Mic Being Banned?

Later this year, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is banning the use of wireless microphones that operate in the 700 MHz spectrum. This post describes when and why the ban is being implemented, provides access to a list of prohibited equipment, and briefly weighs the ban’s economic impacts.

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