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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.


Moving Beyond The Age of Narcissism

At this point we’ve been glorifying musicians for a long time. Since Elvis and The Beatles (or you could argue Mozart and Beethoven) certain musicians have been elevated to the mantle of genius, star, and that ubiquitous term of musical achievement, “Idol”. But any professional musician who has had his feet in the biz for a while has stories of the absurdities and excess that goes along with the success. More importantly, for most working musicians the idea of becoming a star is not at the top of the list. The larger question is, how do I make a sustainable living from the years of practice, performance, recording and schlepping gear? As the perception of the “successful” musician continues to come into sharper contrast with the realities of making a living in music it seems a good time to rethink the larger question what is the role of musician in our culture today?

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The Music Success Formula - Rough Cut

So I got the idea of creating a “back of the envelope” formula that will be a quick way to determine a band’s potential of “breaking through” to the next level, however they define it. This is the potential to be very useful to many musicians, but I need your help refining the idea. Please, poke holes in this so we can strengthen the idea!

What I’ve developed so far is based off the simple equation for force (force = mass X acceleration) except replacing the variables with things related to bands. It would measure, on a scale of 1 to 10, the band’s potential to reach their “fan goal” (which goes into the equation).

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A Lesson in Music Industry Success Prevention.

If your ship came in, would you be smart and frugal enough to ship out on it or simply shit on it? Let’s keep in mind how hard it is to monetize music these days…

If a recording artist could invest $1000 to make between $10K and $70K in 4 months, would he turn it down? Even if you could invest $1000 for the following exposure for your debut CD, with no real guesstimates on download sales, would you turn it down?

Here’s one recording artist who did.

What would you have done if such an offer, like the one briefly described above, dropped out of the sky nine months after you:

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Swiss Cheese And Toilet Paper

At least once a week I get a CD of an aspiring artist handed to me. I’m convinced Starbucks is the music and business hub of Nashville. I really try to make an effort to listen to everything that I receive. After all, I know first hand from the last fifteen years how hard being an independent musician can be.  You never know, that blank disc with the band name scribbled in mint green marker just might be the next Coldplay.

Ninety-nine percent of the time the CD is sonically not up to par (this is my nice way of saying absolutely freaking terrible!) and there are always basic song writing mistakes spread through out. Now if you had stopped reading here you would walk away thinking there is no hope and that Blake guy is a total jerk. But wait, there is hope! This is the point where we all sit back, take a deep breath, take a sip of our favorite coffee, and address the issue of why working with a producer is so important.

A friend of mine once told me about when he fell into an opportunity to work at a small

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Time To Find An Alternative To Facebook?

A week or so ago, I started to notice a steep decline in response to updates and general postings on my Facebook fan page. Then, like the great Sherlock Holmes, I followed the clues and stumbled upon another link in the chain, my posts were getting about 50% less impressions than before. Elementary my dear Watson. I was still puzzled until one day I saw one of my friends had posted this next clue:

 Have you noticed that you are seeing updates or getting comments only from the same people lately? That’s because Facebook made a change. You only see posts from people you interact with regularly. To change this, scroll down to the bottom of the newsfeed on the homepage and click on ‘Edit Options’, click on ‘Show Post…s From’ and change the setting to ‘All of Your Friends and Pages’.REPOST AND LET EVERYONE KNOW”

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TrueDIY Tech: How To Build Your Own Subkick™

Welcome to the first installment of TrueDIY Tech! In this do-it-yourself technology series, we will be providing details on how to create your own tools in the studio and explaining the most commonly practiced studio techniques. We’ll also be reviewing new equipment that is priced for aspiring engineers and how to use it to best suit your project.

In the video below, Chris Thomas of Strewnshank Productions explains how to build your own Subkick™ featuring audio examples showing the difference in a drum sound with and without the speaker microphone mixed in.

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Industry Benchmarks: Why the Music Industry Finishes Last

1. We are spoiled. Our fans are so passionate about music that we are used to them coming to us and spreading the word. It is simply not good enough to just flier for your shows or treat every fan in the same way.

2. Whose job is it? In most industries, there is a CMO or a Marketing Operations Manager. In the music industry, there are still unclear roles about who should do interactive marketing. Is it the band, the manager, the promoter, the label?

3. Who owns the fan? Who owns the lists? Is is the band, the label, the promoter ?

4. Bright Shiny Objects. We are always trying to be one step ahead of the curve. We have to have a facebook, a twitter, 4square, a great music video, awesome tour dates. ooo and whats that?! We are distracted! We have a ton on our plate and really need to focus on a cohesive multi-channel marketing strategy.

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5 Game-Changing Music Industry Philosophies 

If you work in or around the music industry it’s obvious things are changing drastically. The way people perceive and find their music has completely changed. New technology has turned the music industry on it’s head. How do we keep up? and why hasn’t the industry’s platform of doing things completely flipped as well?

Over the course of the last year I’ve been researching and developing a new platform, at least for my company to operate under. Instead of traipsing around complaining about the demise of the record business (like many of the major label execs spend most of their time doing now) I figured, something’s gotta change and fast! Being the owner of a young company, I’m not going to operate by the old platform’s standards and jump aboard a sinking ship.

More people than ever before are listening to music. It’s great! They have it coming at them from all angles, it’s just fantastic. This should be a very prosperous time for the music industry. Music is everywhere - embedded in their phones, tv, public spaces etc. So much room to make money from music. So where do we start…

Here’s my top 5 game changing philosophies. I think with an outlook shift we will actually be able to sustain ourselves. Well, I hope so at least…

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The Third Ring: How To Measure Success

So just how good do you have to be to make a career out of your music?

Damn good.

Any advice that I, or anyone else, give out on how to advance your career will only help you do so if the music is amazing.  That’s why it’s important to beware of any books or courses that guarantee success, because without outstanding music, the advice won’t do you much good. You may see minimal success, sure, but it probably won’t last or grow.

So how do you measure outstanding? I was discussing my theory on this topic over the weekend with a talented local songwriter, and I thought I’d share it with the rest of you. I know, ‘theories’ can be boring, but stick with me…

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Musicians Take Note: 3D Is Not Just For Movies!

Remember getting those red and green 3D glasses with comic books back in the day? Now, 3D movies in theatres (and in people’s living rooms!) are the next big thing, and they make the old 3D specs look like antiques.

Likewise, most people with a home theatre setup have their speakers set for 5.1 surround sound, but very few people are savvy to the most immersive, ear-tingling 3D audio format that’s actually even more accessible.

Binaural audio is the sonic equivalent to today’s ultra-immersive 3D movies, and it’s actually been around for ages!

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Your Band Is Building a Name For Itself. So Where's The Money?

I was reading a New Rockstar Philosophy blog post this morning and it got me thinking.

The post was suggesting that major web media could theoretically perform the role previously performed by the major record labels. They are well-placed to get your band exposure, and have pockets filled with gold, in the same sort of way that the majors used to.

At the same time, there are a number of blog posts and tweets out today questioning whether downloading is dead, and suggesting that people can’t even be bothered to steal music anymore, let alone buy it!

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CTRL - How Much Are You Willing To Give Up? 

Control. It’s not an easy thing. Everyone wants it in one way or another, and it can do strange things to people. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to know how much to seek, and when.

Take, for example, the relationship between artist and the other players in the recording process.  If we look at it from an “assembly line” point of view, the musicians come into the studio, play their parts, and leave.  The mix engineer is responsible for capturing those sounds properly and mixing them.  Then, he/she hands it off to the producer, who plays with the sounds captured and potentially adds new ones.  Once that’s done, it’s handed off to the mastering engineer, and the final product is ready for press.

Of course, this is far from a real world scenario.  Along the way, the artists want to give input into how the record is mixed, produced, and even mastered.  As a guitar/bass/keyboard/percussion player, your expertise may lie primarily in playing your instrument, but as a musician or member of a band, musicianship extends to artistic expression on a larger scale.

This can lead to disagreements, and when it comes time to figuring out who has the ‘final say,’ it’s a matter of role definition and – you guessed it – control.

So how do you tackle this?

It’s important to remember that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.  Identifying your strengths is often much easier, but it’s the latter that is often more important.  The main role of a producer is to take the songs he or she is presented with, work out an overall ‘vision’ for the album, and make the two meet.  That’s a difficult task that not everyone can achieve, and even MORE difficult to define.

However, if you recognize someone who has experience or expertise in this specific, it’s vital that you allow them creative space to work.  This doesn’t mean allowing them ‘free reign,’ but it does mean that they’re the experts who’s ‘say’ should hold more weight.

That may sound scary, but in reality, it all comes down to trust.  If you chose a producer whose work you respect and trust, you should feel comfortable letting them take the lead.  If you don’t, you might want to re-evaluate your choice.

This applies to other aspects of your career, too.  In general, you should be the leader of your career at all times.  Just make sure that you leave room for others to be in control from time to time, in the areas where THEY shine, and you’ll find that everyone will benefit.

This article originally published here on Your Band’s Best Friend

Learn more about the author here


Festival Sponsorship Extremes

It’s rare that you go to a festival in this day and age that isn’t presented by some corporate sponsor who proudly drapes their brand on every imaginable piece of the festival. That’s not all, you can of course count on there being a number of other sponsors handing out free swag and creating these larger than life experiences for you to be a part of. It’s all become part of the festival experience . But at what cost?

The bigger the festival, the more extravagant the sponsorship partners. After attending Budweiser’s Lollapalooza in 2008 in Chicago and many years of Van’s Warped Tours, Virgin Festivals, Sirius Satellite Radio’s North by Northeast, Molson Canadian’s Canadian Music Weeks etc. etc. I’ve become accustomed (if not a bit obsessed) at watching how these corporate partners continue to out-do one another with their on-site presence and forward thinking campaigns.

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Kings Of Flow On The Come Up: Rising Stars!

So, Kings Of Flow got more terrestrial radio spins than any other emerging artist at last year’s Spanish due to their aggressive expansion with the addition of their “Rumba Callejera” to the music-on-demand unsigned latin chart service to their IHeartRadio app for iPhones, prompted yet more gasps over their latin hood type choice outfits. 

Amid such hoo-ha it would be easy to forget the scale of their victory over us - their supporting fans - these past 12 months. 

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