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Music Think Tank Open

Anybody (no really anybody) can contribute anything relevant to this page…All mp3s should be posted on the MTT radio page. If you cannot find your post here, your article may have been moved to the MTT homepage.

If you would like Music Think Tank to publish your contribution, please read our posting guidelines and our posting advice.

Wednesday
Oct132010

Hot Links! How Hyperlinks Can Make Your Music Easier to Find Online

Did you know that the hyperlinks you create can boost your search engine ranking and improve your web presence? It’s true! Using relevant link text when you link back to your website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. will boost and broaden the search ranking of the page you are linking to. These keyword-studded “backlinks” will make it easier for your fans to find your web pages in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing because these pages will rank better in search results. And it only takes a few seconds to turn a boring “click here” link into a search engine optimized one. Now most musicians are at least somewhat experienced in authoring text links (also known as anchor links, hot links or hyperlinks). Often these links read something like:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct122010

OK Go Goes 3D - An Economic History of OK Go Videos

After appearing at the Dear New Orleans Benefit Concert Tuesday night, DC native and OKGo front-man Damian Kulash was interviewed by NPR’s Neda Ulaby to close out the summit on Wednesday. In an amiable conversation, Damian covered the history of OK Go videos, the embedding controversy, and the split with EMI.

An Economic History of OK Go Music Videos

The band first started choreographing dance moves in preparation for their appearance on a Chicagoland cable access show: Chica-go-go. The show couldn’t handle live performances, but “we didn’t want to lip-sync unless we were really swinging for the fences.”

So they rented some N’Sync and cheerleading videotapes to come up with a dance routine, which they used to end their live shows for a few years. The first video, for “A Million Ways” was filmed in Damian’s backyard, with choreography by his sister, a ballroom dancer. Budget: $5 (plus Starbucks runs).

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Wednesday
Oct062010

T Bone Burnett vs. the Internet

T Bone Burnett shook up the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit at Georgetown University on Monday by boldly declaring at the beginning of his segment: “The future of music is…” wait for it, here it comes…”analog”.

While much of the conference focused on digitization as slayer or savior, and the Internet as love child of the universe and musical cash register, T Bone turned the conversation towards the quality of recorded music. Portions of the audience seemed stunned by some of T Bone’s thoughts, here are a few highlights:

  • He finds it shocking that artists allow their music to be distributed in such a degraded form as MP3s.
  • MP3s should be free, because they’re not worth anything.
  • The Internet is a broadcast medium, not the omega point.
  • Any musician who uses the word “monetize” should be ashamed of themselves.
  • Musicians should not spend time marketing and analyzing data, they should be focused on making great music.
  • To someone starting out at as an artist today, his advice would be “stay completely away from the Internet.”

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct062010

7 Words Every Artist NEEDS To Know: Publishing

If you’re serious about making this business of music your full time career, then one of the first things you need to understand is the lingo of the business! Today we will discuss, in plain English, the top 7 terms you need to understand about publishing. Something important to remember about publishing is, this is how songwriters earn their living. If you are an artist who only records other peoples music, you are usually not entitled to the publishing income. However, if you are an artist who rights some or all of your own material, or a writer/ composer (beat-maker for the rap producers), this is where ALL of your money is coming from! So without any more chatter, here is:

7 Words Every Artist NEEDS To Know: Publishing

1. Copyright
- Copyrights are the rights given to you under US law that states, once you create an original work (known as Intellectual Property), you are the only one who is allowed to profit from it for a specified amount of time (for most of you, that would be the rest of your life, plus 70 years). Now, by law, as soon as you put the song in a form that anyone else can hear it or read it, it is considered copywritten. The question is, how do you prove you did it first? Although there are a lot of suggested ideas out there on how this can be done (ie. mail it to yourself and don’t open it, upload it to a website so the date is saved, etc…) they are ALL wrong. The ONLY way to ensure that your music is protected and will stand up in court when you sue someone for stealing your song, is to register the song with the US Library of Congress. Once submitted, your copyright is secure, and you can rest assured that your music is safe.

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Tuesday
Oct052010

Making It In One Year - Part II

A little over one month in and we’ve played 7 shows and distributed about 600 CDs. It’s already been a learning experience, as we expected, and we’ve already had some ups and downs. Here’s a brief overview of the good stuff and some of the things we’re learning along the way.

The Good Stuff

-    As a result of winning a local talent contest, I’m being sponsored to represent my town at the America’s Got Talent Auditions in Chicago in November(airfare and hotel paid), and I will be headlining a local show to promote it.

-    After playing a concert for an influential colleague, the host offered to have a dinner party featuring the band to local businessmen and women as well as to some of Branson, Missouri’s most respected musical acts

-    Received our first “Album Review”  for our EP here

-    To receive week-long front page feature on LikeZebra.com*

-    Figured out how and where to distribute 250CD’s per week consistently until we hit 5000. (We also got a CD duplicator that’s making things a lot easier:)  

The Learning Stuff

-    We learned a bit about sound mechanics while playing in various venues of different sizes. Our second gig was at a huge Baseball Stadium, so we were really happy we were prepared with a good sized PA, but when there was only 6 square feet of room to perform from we had to learn to cut down a little. I was a little surprised at how well people responded to our PA-less performances, but it just goes to show that it’s not the size of the boat that matters… 

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Tuesday
Oct052010

SOCIAL NETWORKING SPAGHETTI TOSS

Originally I was going to classify this post in the Dear Christian Music Industry section but the more I thought about it, I realized, I think it goes way beyond that.  While I primarily work in the ‘Christian Music Industry’, I think when it comes to “Social Networking” there is so much going on that to pin-point it to one section of one industry doesn’t seem fair.

The bigger SkörInc gets and the more client promotion things we are behind, the more I get asked about different aspects of the web.  I was asked the other day, when it comes to Social Networking, how do I know when something will work.  How do I know that this campaign will be more effective than that campaign?  How do I know where to lay my ‘chips’ that day?  I thought it was a pretty interesting question considering things are so new and it seems like we are in a stage of the game where there’s a crazy amount of options for promoting things.

If I’m honest, I don’t.

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Wednesday
Sep292010

Andrew Heringer "Under California Skies" Interview

One of the great perks of being a touring musician is the number of other artists you get to meet along the way. One such artist I had the pleasure of meeting on the road this year was Andrew Heringer (from Sacramento). We were both playing a show in Redding, CA, and I was immediately impressed by both Andrew and his band’s music and professionalism. The Andrew Heringer Band just recently released their latest album, “Under California Skies,” a beautiful record combining elements of folk, pop and rock. You can download the album for free here.

Andrew was gracious enough to talk with me about the new album, art, songwriting and what lies ahead for himself and the band.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep292010

Todd Clouser's A Love Electric Releases Debut Record

Recent winners of Ropeadope Records’ “emerging artist” competition, A Love Electric, led by guitarist Todd Clouser, a young jazz guitarist boasting a resume of performances with artists from Keb Mo to Steven Bernstein, have released their debut self titled record. Released at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis , MN on September 27th, the energetic jazz rock quintet will be touring internationally into the new year behind the album. More information, and recent press can be found at www.toddclouser.com, with tunes from A Love Electric streaming at myspace.com/toddclouser.

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Tuesday
Sep282010

Why the RIAA needs to be put down

I agree heavy downloaders and especially uploaders of copyrighted content should be punished. I agree drastic measures need to happen. But the RIAA, with the wonderful aid of the majors, got us in to this mess with no evident progressive steps since.

Its an old governing dog incapable of learning any new tricks. RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is that stereotypical Chinese mother smacking her child round the head every time a hand goes in to that cookie jar. There is one way of educating and one way only. Punishment.

I understand why they have to do this. Music is dependent on money from its intellectual property. Artists need to eat. Royalties put food (and often coke) on the table. It’s how the music industry has always functioned. And it always will be - surely?

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Tuesday
Sep282010

The Virtual Tour, Part I (OR: How Your Band Can Tour the World from Your Living Room)

A virtual music tour is similar to a traditional tour in that the band/musicians make several appearances, and in several locations, in an attempt to promote and sell their music. On a traditional tour, musicians make contact with clubs, bars or other suitable venues (suitable venues: house parties, small music festivals, state fairs, and Geri’s Bat Mitzvah) to book live shows. They then travel to each city, spend time at each location playing their music and possibly spending time with the audience in an effort to sell their music and merchandise. Many musicians will agree, for the effort and expense involved, touring and playing live doesn’t sell many CD’s or music downloads. (Although it can be a heck of a lot of fun, if you have the money.)

A virtual tour is very similar to the traditional live tour. The biggest difference being, there are no extensive travel, no travel related expenses, no need to try to figure out how to take 2, 6, or 12 weeks off work. Virtual tours are accomplished 100 percent over the Internet.

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Monday
Sep272010

Music isn't Falling (But The Industry Is Failing)

A few weeks ago I read an article in the Huffington post by columnist Jeff Pollack called Music in Free Fall. In it he argues against illegal downloading of music and that artists and labels should be compensated for their risk and financial investment. He also argues that by downloading music illegally, fans “rob the artists and those who work with them”. While the article is well intentioned, Pollacks argument is outdated and fundamentally flawed. Music is not in free fall, more people are listening to more music than ever before. What is falling is the Industries ability to exert control over the musicians themselves. Moreover his article is indicative of the Music Industries inability to recognize its true role as service providers to artists and their fans.

Simply put, the role of the emerging music industry is to find innovative ways to connect music to the local and global community. Like the rest of us, you are becoming a service worker.

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Sunday
Sep262010

Are Paid Subscriptions the Future for Fan to Artist Relationships?

With musicians scrambling for new ways to monetize their content, some companies and artists are creating new ways to interact with their fans and make music a viable career. A subscription plan for fans to build relationships with their favorite artists is an interesting concept for future business models in the music industry. As more and more artists decide to go this route, we will see if it becomes an efficient way for artists to make a living.

Last year I came across a website called MyBandStock that promises exclusive access to your favorite artists. Fans become shareholders in the artists of their choosing and are then given perks and preferred access to exclusive media, meet and greets, mobile apps, pre-sale concert tickets, and more. Although they have not yet finished developing the entire site or making deals with some of their first artists, the MyBandStock team have secured an undisclosed amount of funding for their project and opened up a Los Angeles office. One question that comes to mind is whether this is something the fans actually want to participate in.

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Wednesday
Sep222010

Of Unicycles and Songwriting

Unicycles seem magic. Somehow a stick with a wheel on it being used as a means of transportation seems inefficient. But it works. A good friend of mine decided to take up unicycling as a hobby (?) a year back and now regularly commutes to work on it. He wants to start a unicycle crew and roll around town clowning on those with two or more wheels.

Yeah.

To an outsider, unicycles seem magic. But really it doesn’t take anything more than practice and strong knee pads. It’s a skill. Sure, you can read articles on unicycling, watch youtube videos of professionals in action, or purchase “super high-quality” unicycle accessories to try and get better. But it’s a skill. You get better at unicycling by unicycling.

The same goes for songwriting.

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Wednesday
Sep222010

Electric Vans And Touring: Can You Afford 2 Cents Per Mile?

There are many large businesses taking advantage of 2 cents per mile with the use of electric vehicles, that is not a typo, one of the electric vehicle industries greatest bonuses is price per mile. The new electric vehicle industry will endevour to help bands of the future, but why are they not ready for us independents just yet? Simply put, due to the huge upfront costs of an electric van, you actually can not afford 2 cents per mile.

 

You may or may not as a musician have thought about these new propulsion methods. I am talking about electric vehicles, which are actually not so ‘new’. In the early 1900’s there were more electric cars registered on the roads of America then there were petrol cars. What does this mean today? Well with technology being trickled out to the possible consumers as slowly as possible it could mean a resurgence of the electric vehicle 100 years after they where first driven on the roads of America and beyond. What does this have to do with you your probably thinking. Electric vans are a part of this not so new technology which your band could utilize.

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