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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).


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.


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


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 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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3 Timeless Steps to Music Business Success

There’s a simple truth at the heart of the music business. It’s the key to success in music marketing and retail as well as to gig promotion, media coverage, buzz and, most importantly, the sale of music online and off.

It has been true since the beginning of the recorded music business and it is still true today. It stands, unscathed by the world wide web, impervious to the sands of time.

It’s a simple 3-step principle, and it is at the heart of all music business success.

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The 1st Musician to Make Amazing Use of Chat Roulette

Have you heard of Chat Roulette? It’s the latest web site to create a major buzz in a very short period of time.

In a nutshell, Chat Roulette allows anyone with a webcam to log on and randomly be connected live with other people on the site one by one. If you don’t like who you’re connected to, you click “Next” and get another random paring.

It’s been widely covered (and made fun of) in the media. But I, along with a lot of online marketing people, thought it was a flash-in-the-pan novelty site with no possible self-promotion value. How could you possibly make use of such random connections?

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No, do it NOW

If there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty about using your computer it’s this: IT WILL FAIL.

Duplicate all of your files and put them somewhere safe. Off-site backup is an ideal solution. Homes and offices get burgled, damaged or burned to the ground. Your insurance company will not be helpful in this regard. Get all of your music files, all of your business documents and all of your photos and make sure that if the worst happened to your computer(s)… you would at least be able to cope.

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The Indie Maximum 100 Goes To Texas ...Industry Experts & Musicians Dish Out Their Best SXSW Tips - Part 2: While You Are There

Now that you know what to do to prepare before you get on the road, you need to know what to do while you’re there! Here’s what the indie Maximum 100 experts have to say:


Go With The Flow
Don’t bother jotting down the bands you want to see because chances are, you will not make it to most of them. You’ll be on your way to see the band you “must see,” and you will absolutely run into someone you know on the street, then one thing leads to another, and you missed the show.

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The Indie Maximum 100 Goes To Texas ...Industry Experts & Musicians Dish Out Their Best SXSW Tips

As a follow up to last week’s The SXSW Survival Guide, I’ve decided to take some of the best tips from some of the experts of today’s music industry and provide them for you here! I took the time to talk to some of the contributors from our 2009 Indie Maximum Exposure list to see what they had to say.

Over the next several days, I will be posting all-new tips that you can use to maximize your South by Southwest experience.

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In Defense Of 1,000 True Fans - Part VII - Ellis Paul - 300 Fans = $100,000 in Contributions The Ultimate Testament to Fan Loyalty

When I first heard that Ellis Paul an artist I have know about for years and seen one a few occasions raised $100,000 I was amazed…I had to get the story.  Here it is.

Ellis Paul is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. To date, he has released 16 albums and has been the recipient of 14 Boston Music Awards.  He has published a book of original lyrics, poems, and drawings, and released a DVD that includes a live performance, guitar instruction, and a road-trip documentary.  As a touring musician, Ellis plays close to 150 dates each year and his extensive club and coffeehouse touring, together with radio airplay, has brought him a solid national following.

Rachael Klien from Ellis’s management team answered these questions for Ellis while chatting with him on the phone while he drove from Virginia to Atlanta

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Three Steps To Inexpensively Winning The Search Engine Game

Sites that are interlinked together are subwebs (subsets) within the World Wide Web.  Search engines rank and score websites by measuring the authority and the authenticity of every subweb on the Internet.
The stronger your subweb is, the higher your site will rank against keywords, phrases and concepts (as categorized and tagged) that occur on both your site and within your site’s ENTIRE subweb.
Authority and authenticity are weighed and measured by search engines that use complex and evolving algorithms that size (metaphorically speaking) the entire width, height, depth, complexity and the population density of your entire subweb.

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Some good, old-fashioned advice

Last night, I had a really good Skype chat with Bruce Warila, and along the way, we started talking about some of our old blog posts. I hadn’t read any of my old stuff in ages. Pretty much since I wrote it actually, and I thought I’d have a flick through and see if there was anything interesting there.

I’ve been blogging since 2002, but I started specifically blogging about independent music business online back in August 2006 when I started New Music Strategies.

This was the first post I wrote - and while it’s a little dated (three and a half years is a long time on the internet), I think there’s some value in having another look at it. It’s essentially about looking for people that might be interested in your music, but in contexts that are not music-focused.

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Ariel’s Tips On How To Advance Your Career at SXSW

I can not believe that March is upon us that means only one thing… It’s SXSW time again! Undoubtedly it will be just as full-on as last year with over 100,000 attendees expected to flood the venues and streets of Austin downing (free) Dixie and (free) BBQ and soaking up the music and the mayhem….

 If you are packing your bags for Austin Here are my tips for you (This guide is not just for SXSW; it’s also for any music conference out there!)

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Rock Band Network authoring best left to the pros

After 45 hours of work over six weeks, my song is one of the 118 approved to be in the RBN Store when it launches. My last article laid out what it takes to get your song in the game, namely a deep skill set and lots of time. While I managed to clock in well under my 60-80 hour estimate, I had a considerable head start. Knowing what I know now, would I do it again?

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Do you have conference advice for musicians? Want to be in my SxSW talk?

Have you had some success at a music conference?

Could you distill a lesson from that success that you could share as advice to other musicians in under 2 minutes?

I’m doing the opening keynote-style one-hour talk at the South by Southwest Music Conference in three weeks, and I’d like to include you, if so.

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3 Music Biz Mindsets I Learned From My 3 Year Old

The other day I had the pleasure to spend the afternoon with my son Elijah.

After hanging out and playing with him for a while, the scene turned pretty nasty when the talk of a lollipop surfaced.

Now, anyone who has kids knows very well that when the discussion around candy hit’s the table, you know you’re in for a tough negotiation. They usually nag until that sugar stick is firmly wedged in their mouth without interruption.

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