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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).

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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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