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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.


The Best in the World

You need to be the best in the world. How else will you earn the work and opportunities desired? But come on, do you really think you have a shot of becoming the top musician out there? For most of us, the answer is obvious: NO! Can you have a successful artistic life even if you’re not the best? Absolutely. But that’s fodder for another post. My message today: become the best in the world! (Huh? But you just said…)

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75% Want a Record Deal

On the back of the Reverbnation survey of over 1,800 artists, 75% of whom would like to sign a record deal, it has to be asked: what’s happened to the DIY digital pop revolution?

What amazed me, in particular, about the survey was the record companies listed as Most Wanted: the majors…  Sony, Universal, Warner etc

Is it the innate stupidity of hundreds of music artists?  Or are they recognising the basic flaw in the DIY argument: to promote a group successfully you need money and resources beyond those possessed by most bands and soloists?

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The Music Biz Weekly Podcast Episode 3 – ReverbNation Survey, Do You Want to be Signed

Welcome to the third episode of The Music Biz Weekly, a weekly podcast co-hosted by Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson.

Each week Michael and Brian will discuss the latest events in the music business and music marketing events and techniques.

This week’s episode, April 1, 2011 – ReverbNation Survey, Do You Want to be Signed

Listen using SoundCloud.

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What I Learned From Justin Bieber


Baby, baby, baby oh…Ok I’ll stop right there.  So the story goes that Justin Bieber and his mom uploaded videos of Justin singing at a talent competition on YouTube in 2007.  The next thing you know he’s having a meeting with Usher and on his way to stardom.  Wow!  That is one crazy story!  So anyone can do the same thing and just wait for that major record label to call them,right? Lets just say the odds are not good!

Instead of kids getting their new favorite artists from pop radio, kids discover music on the web. We live in a fast instant gratification world and there is a vast amount of information.  Which means for artists that your 15 minutes of fame (AKA Vanilla Ice) is now 15 seconds of fame.  So as artists, how do we use internet marketing in a way to get real results?

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Interview with Brian Thompson of Thorny Bleeder Records

If this were a bio on Twitter, it would be short and sweet: “Music biz entrepreneur, artist manager, marketing guru, strategist, consultant, speaker, blogger & web designer.”

“Today, my goal is to find the best unsigned, independent artists and deliver their music to the world. I develop careers, facilitate business connections, negotiate deals, present opportunities, and consult on marketing and branding initiatives. I distribute music to record stores and digital download sites, chase down radio stations for airplay, and execute press and publicity campaigns. I preach about the power of the blog, social media marketing, and how new technologies can make your music heard. I understand the music business, the needs of an artist, the desires of a music fan, and the essential tools needed to help artists realize their goals.

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The album is dead, long live the album

Before you take on the expense of recording a full-length album as an indie musician, you need to decide if you should even be doing it in the first place. Consider these questions:

-Where am I recording this, and how much money am I spending?

-Do I need to hire an engineer, a mixer, and a mastering studio?

-If I hire people, am I choosing the most talented people possible at the best prices possible?

-If I’m going to do this on my own without hiring anyone, am I experienced and talented enough to produce a professional recording?

-Am I sacrificing the quality of the final product by trying to skimp on money?

-What is the goal of this album?

-Will I give it away or am I hoping to sell it?

-If I want to sell it, how many can I realistically sell?

-Will I earn back the money I’m spending studio?

-Is the money I’m spending on an album going to make it impossible to fund touring, promotion, or other merchandising?

Depending on how you answer these questions, recording an album might not sound so appealing anymore.

In some cases, it just doesn’t make sense for an indie musician to record a full album. You might not have the finances, resources, or fan base to justify it. But don’t fret. The album is not the monolithic accomplishment of a musical career anymore. You don’t have to record an album.

Maybe you only have enough money record a single. Don’t bitch about not being able to go further, build a strategy around that instead. Sell the single (or give it away for exposure to support merchandise sales, touring, etc.) and raise enough money to record another single. Keep going until you’ve recorded 10 great songs. Then create something unique for fans to purchase. You’ll be making progress without a ton of debt and pressure. Or maybe you choose to record a 3-song or 5-song EP. Sell it at a great price, give it away, or bundle it for free with the purchase of a merchandise item. Put on your thinking cap!

On the other hand, let’s say you do have the money to record a full album, and your fan base is chomping at the bit to get it. What are you waiting for? Go record your album and let them have it! 

You see, this post isn’t about slamming the album format. It’s about realizing that you have options. There is a never-ending list of ways to approach recording and releasing music if you get creative. It’s in this sense that the album is dead. So don’t limit yourself. What matters is exposing the world to your music.

Band 101 is run by Jimmy Brunetti. He has sold upwards of 2 million records independently, and has overseen marketing operations for several independent labels. Band 101 helps independent musicians learn the business and marketing fundamentals that are often overlooked by beginners.


Now, If I Owned A Record Company…

… I would first weigh my wants and needs, my strengths and weaknesses, leave my sanity at the door, and it would go something like this…

My Aim [Musically]:

1.    My Main Criteria: Grrreat Songs that grab you and take you away to another land… That always has been, and always will be #1 in my book!!!

2.    Broadcast-Ready Masters with Great Artists & Great Accompanying Musicians with Great Arrangements & Productions.

3.    Genre: Open – But I would lean toward Rock, Classic R&B, Classic Soul [not neo], Rock-Dance, Techno, & Rock’n Country.

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Your Next Album Release Party Live On Your Website

A big part of planning an album release is throwing a release party on the night of street date. Pulling this together can often be stressful and expensive. In a perfect world, most bands want their release party to be a live event at a good venue in their hometown. Bring everybody out to a huge show on a monday or tuesday night, play to a big crowd of fans, friends and family and hopefully a few key record execs who are there to “check you out”. Everybody has fun, you sell a bunch of albums and you get some good press from the event to boot.

The problem is that this can be extremely difficult to pull off for most artists. Without the help of a PR company or a well-connected manager, it can be nearly impossible. But more to the point, is this event really something you should be spending so much time, money and resources on? For the ever growing number of artists who are selling their music direct-to-fan through their website it probably makes more sense all the way around to host your next album release party right from the comfort of your own home, studio or whatever location you have easy access to, and broadcast it live online.

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So, You Want Be a Successful Struggling Musician . . . Part 1

Over the 20 years that I’ve been a working musician, I have gleemed many an insight into what it takes to be able to do this for the long haul.  With my current band, Fishtank Ensemble, we just released our 3rd album, ‘Woman in Sin’ and are currently touring about half of the year.  We are an almost completely do-it-yourself band.

So what does it mean to be a successful struggling musician?  It means that you are pursuing your passion, music, while still able to pay to your bills and live a reasonably good life (and hopefully save a little).  There are so many trade-offs in choosing to pursue your dreams.  Non-artistic people think it’s an easy decision to ‘not get a real job’.  Tthat might be true when you’re young.  But the older you get the harder it gets.  These following tips are knowledge that I’ve learned from my experience that will help you down your path becoming a successful struggling musician, and eventually, just a successful musician.

In part 1 of this 3 part series, I will be outlining the more practical aspects of what this entails.

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New Podcast, The Music Biz Weekly with Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson

Welcome to debut episode of The Music Biz Weekly, a weekly podcast co-hosted by Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson. Each week Michael and Brian will discuss the latest events in the music business and music marketing events and techniques.

This week’s episode, March 18, 2011 – Topics: Introductions to Michael and Brian, Jon Bon Jovi blames Steve Jobs for killing the music business.

Click here to Listen!

Please leave feedback and comments, we want to hear what you think.

Tune in every week for the latest discussions and comments on the music business 

Be sure to follow both Michael and Brian on Twitter for updates on each week’s podcast.

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Music Promotion Tip: Create An Encyclopedia of Your Music Niche

In the past I have touched on the idea that you need to be a great source of information for your fans to have them coming back day after day. But recently I’ve come up with a new way to think about this idea to make things a bit more clear for you.

This is where the “Encyclopedia” concept comes in, because that word conjures up positive images in the mind of your fans right away.

Setting this up is simple…

You would have your own website with information about what you are up to, and then have another section called something like…

“The Death Metal Encyclopedia – Everything Your Need to Know About Everything!”

…or whatever kind of music that you play.

In this section you would make it your business to create the definitive guide to your music niche, and in the process you will start to build up a loyal following of aficionados who find your site through multiple google rankings. They will start to rely on you to keep them up to date with all the latest information.

You can keep track of your music news using the Google Music Alerts method that I talked about in a recent post.

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Maximize Your Dead Myspace Profile (For Artists)

Nearly every active band/artist/musician today has a profile on Myspace and they’ve spent years building up their friend count trying to impress labels and radio stations. Now it’s 2011, everyone has moved on to Facebook or Twitter and these acts are left with thousands of fan connections on a dead social network. What a waste. It doesn’t have to be this way! Here are some tips on how to make the most of your fan connections on Myspace.

Myspace is still a popular music destination. It’s high domain authority lets Myspace rank well for many search keywords, which means lots of targeted traffic to your profile. Visitors to this page are probably not a “fan” yet and it’s unlikely that many visitors will “friend” you. So, make sure you’re leading potential fans to where they will make a connection, whether its Facebook or your mailing list. 

Myspace isn’t totally dead yet, it still has 28 million users a month according to Quantcast. You should spend a little time updating the few fans who still use it. Use a service or artistdata to save time if you must.

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What Motivates Fans To Support Independent Artists? Or, Help Me Finish My Dissertation!

My name’s Jimmy Richards, and I’m a final year student at the University of the West of Scotland, studying for a BA (Hons) in Commercial Music. In order to finish my course, I am currently writing my dissertation on what motivates the average music fan to support an independent artist or band.

To this end, I’ve produced a short online questionnaire, asking a few questions about to what extent music fans, on average, support their favourite artists. It would be a great help to my study if the readers here at MTT would be willing to take a minute to fill in this questionnaire, and perhaps share it amongst their fans/colleagues.

The questionnaire can be found here. Please note that by filling in this questionnaire, you are granting me permission to use your answers in my research. No personal data is required.

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SXSW - Long On Experience, Short On Years

My name is David Jacobs and I consider myself somewhat of a veteran of SXSW. As a matter of fact, people tell me often they remember me there15 years ago, but these memories are quite hazy to me. Was I drunk? No. Actually, I was 8 years old. Now, at 23 years old, I find myself as the youngest person to ever appear as a panelist at SXSW.

I was born into the music industry, and have attended SXSW every year for the last 15 years. My father worked in the business and SXSW became a common family vacation. My earliest memories of SXSW are (what I now have been told to be) of epic parties my Dad threw at the Driskill Hotel, loud shows at Stubbs and bars that I was way too young to be in, playing cards and kick the can with drunken bands backstage, and perusing the swag bags for free toys.

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