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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
Dec292010

Music Industry Secret to Success #4 – Have Integrity

I have developed a set of music industry “secrets.” These “secrets” are designed to develop positive behavior, so do not expect a ton of tactical talk. Strategy will be the ultimate takeaway. In each shared “secret,” I am going to give ideas that should help you make the right changes toward a substantial music career. Be sure you check out the previous “secrets” of “Be Yourself”, “Reach Out”, “Listen” and “Have Humility” on FryinginVein.com before reading this.

By definition, there are two ways you can interpret integrity. Regardless of whether we are talking unfettered completeness or moral soundness, having integrity is crucial to succeeding in life - period. In this piece, I will list key actions you can do to increase your level of integrity in your music career.

When you are a person with integrity, you are a person that people can trust. You are someone that can be depended upon to do what you say you are going to do. That is where the “completeness” ties into the definition, so for the first key action:

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Thursday
Dec232010

Musicians: Get Your Facebook Page Done Right

Today artists, bands, labels, even promoters do their marketing on Facebook. Technology has become “social” and social media can create unforeseen opportunities as a communication, distribution and sales channel. It is not easy to figure out how all this works despite there being millions of social media “consultants” and wanna-be gurus. A lot of knowledge is needed, especially in technology, design (not decoration), psychology and social science. If this expertise is lacking, misunderstandings can happen easily and the potential is wasted.

Tip: in a hurry? Skip to “Let’s get to work”

Facebook and Pages

Facebook is the dominant social network in today’s world; the site allows musicians to fully harness the power of the social graph. What? Well, I mean Facebook friends. Why? Because music is a very social vertical. You would rarely go to a concert alone. If you like a song, it is very likely you will share this experience.

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Wednesday
Dec222010

Managing Your Band Bank Account

So you’ve reached the point of making money from your band’s music and merchandise. Most likely a majority of this money will be poured back into your gas tank or will be put toward new merch items. An initial reaction would be to entrust a member of the band to hold on to any extra money in a personal bank account or in a merch booth money drawer. This method of accounting lacks transparency and can easily cause tension among band members. Even if you don’t have extra funds floating around it’s a good idea to create a bank account that keeps all band money separate of personal funds.

Opening a band bank account can be a sure-fire method of keeping money safe, well accounted for, and organized, but can still cause headaches if not managed properly. Poor organization and money management skills will almost always lead to uncomfortable conversations and cause tension within most bands. To provide some advice to get you started we’ve put together this list of tips for anyone interested in setting up and managing a band bank account. 

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Monday
Dec202010

Global Music Ecosystem & Cultural Implications

I recently did an interview of this young mash-up artist that turned out to be a really good exemple of how technologies are changing the way music is being produced and promoted. He is 22, comes from the North East of Brazil and rules the Asian Mash-up remix scene. Leaving on his first tour to South America in early 2011, DJ Masa is living proof that the new music ecosystem is emerging and that its cultural implications are real.

You are getting close to 100,000 downloads on official.fm alone. I saw that you have 12 Million + views on your You Tube profile … This is quite significant, can you tell us a little bit of your story?

100.000 downloads already? Wow!! I hope it didn’t make your servers busy! Well, I’m a 22 years old journalist and I’m from Brazil. I’ve been following the Asian Pop scene since 2003, when I discovered J-pop and K-pop through the Internet. That time I joined a lot of forums and fan sites to keep me updated and to contribute with that community anyway that I could. I started to learn about music production software in 2005, when I released my first mashup and shared it with my online friends.

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Monday
Dec202010

Mobile Connect-with-Fans For DIY Artists – Why, And How? 

Recently, on ContentSphere.de I argued about how highly required it is for DIY artists to get mobile – to find a way for mobile communication with fans. Actually, it is key to truely connect with fans. Apparently, there’s a solution to that. Finally.

I know, it’s beaten to death… but – there is an app for that. Of course, the main issue in CwF (Connect-with-Fans) is authenticity. You can’t buy that, same with the quality of your music. Yet it is required to have something to grow that on. A medium like an app.

That’s why I was curious to see if there’s anything like that available for the common DIY artist. But first off, why is it necessary at all?

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Friday
Dec172010

Think For Yourself & Question Authority

I have found myself commenting (ranting?) on various posts on Music Think Tank a lot recently, normally versions of one theme, which can be summed up by a phrase borrowed from Timothy Leary, the psychedelic guru/grass, who nevertheless had a way with a catchphrase: ‘think for yourself and question authority’.

What bugs me are the posts that state or imply that there are routes to success available to any artist who follows certain rules.

Hardly any provide proof of any kind.

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Wednesday
Dec152010

One Artist’s Saga of Getting Added to Apple Ping

I have been assisting my good friend, legendary blues harmonica and sax player Jimmy Z, with his online presence and marketing for him and his band, ZTribe. Though he has recorded and toured with Rod Stewart, Eurythmics, Tom Petty, Etta James and others, and has worked in nearly 1000 sessions, he still struggles to make a living as an independent musician. So I help him any way I can. Right now, he has a presence on MySpace, Facebook, Reverbnation, Soundcloud and we’re building our Amazon page as well as a page on the sixtyone.com.

I have worked with Apple and it’s reps over the years and have learned that their only interest is self-interest. So when iTunes Ping was announced last September, I treated it with great suspicion, but also realized that I should get Jimmy on it, because you have to explore every opportunity that seems worthwhile. And having any leverage on iTunes is an opportunity that should not be missed.

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Wednesday
Dec152010

What Do You Do For Your Band?

Besides your instrument. Any musician can do that. What makes you irreplaceable in your band?

This is important.

Music is a highly competitive industry, and it’s no secret band lineups change all the time. Unless you happen to be a prophet of the guitar like Hendrix, being “good” isn’t enough to ensure you stay in a band. Youtube practicly has a dedicated channel called “12 Year Olds Who Are Better At Your Instrument Than You Will Ever Be”. A Total musician, the kind of person you always want in your band, contributes something that can’t be replaced by someone who can read guitar tabs.

What would qualify as something making you more valuable to the band?

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Tuesday
Dec142010

Share And Earn

Today, thinking about ways of selling content online, especially music, demands to take a close look at even distribution channels you didn’t bother to think of before.

You simply can’t afford to miss any options for sales any more. As album sales still drop and single downloads do not compensate for the loss of physical sales diversification of revenues is gaining more and more relevance.

The crux of diversification is that new revenue models must not cannibalize existing products.

So let’s think of revenue channels that do not concern physical media or downloads but opening revenues without loosing channels you already have.

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Tuesday
Dec142010

The Real Reason You Fail To Make Money From Your Music

I’m going to keep this one short and straight to the point. The music industry is a hard one to make money from, we all know that. When it’s all said and done however, if you’re talented, have been making music for a while and don’t make any money from it, you’re doing the wrong things!

For a lot of people, their idea of promotion is adding people on Facebook and Reverb Nation and messaging them about their music. In all honesty, this is doing next to nothing for your music career. How much money do you ever make from doing this? My guess is none, at most you’ll get a small ego boost when the odd person replies saying your music’s good.

The thing is, this type of marketing is very short term and a big waste of your time. While social media should be a part of your strategy, looking for fans one by one isn’t the best use of your time. If you stop and analyse your results in terms of sales from this promotion, I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion.

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Friday
Dec102010

Promotional Tool Idea

With street marketing being one of our most popular services, we’re continually asked for new promotional tools which grab the attention of potential fans here at The Syndicate. The item needs to be eye-catching,  pocket or purse-friendly, needs to make people act, and ideally, is trackable. Not many physical promo items have all of these aspects, but one has solutions to address all of these, and because of that, we end up using and recommending Dropcards. Often.

For example, we’ve used them in many street marketing campaigns, such as Tropicana’s “Rescue the Rainforest” campaign with Cool Earth, where we used FSC- and SFI-certified cards and had Dropcards print unique codes on them for people to redeem to save their own area of the rainforest.  Twin Atlantic, a band from Scotland on Red Bull Records, also used the seeded cards to promote their album “Vivarium” with a code to redeem a free song, unique videos, and other information about the band.

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Friday
Dec102010

10,000 Hours of Practice Makes Perfect?

How much should you practice? In This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, Daniel Levitan writes about the ten-thousand-hours theory, which proposes that 10,000 hours of practice is required to become a world-class expert in any field: basketball, ice skating, chess, or the viola.

This idea was further popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success. Gladwell points to examples including Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and the Beatles, while Levitan counts up the hours to Mozart’s Symphony No. 1, which he composed at age 8.

Is there such a thing as “talent”?

In a study cited by Gladwell, violinists at Berlin’s Academy of Music were divided into three groups: the “stars”, who had the potential to become world-class soloists; the students who were merely “good”; and a third group who did not intend to ever play professionally, the “teachers.”

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Wednesday
Dec082010

Bad Music Can Be Good

So I saw this video today that’s going around:

I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it. I mean clearly it is pretty awful in a certain way. But it makes me think that maybe all of the horrible singer-songwriter stuff you see on an open-mic night might be the performers & not the songwriting. & also it reminds me that when the music & lyrics are thoroughly separated that most lyrics are pretty freaking awful (as I’m sure mine are). & it reminds me that I was never impressed with the music on The Wall. & that if you are going to do a cover song & don’t have the chops or equipment to pull it off, you should alter it into something thoroughly your own.

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Wednesday
Dec082010

The Science of Becoming a Rock Star

Working with both well-known and unsigned artists for over a decade, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering why some people succeed in music while others fail. And though this might sound strange, there are a few physics ideas that can help you think differently about how great music careers are made.

Rule #1: Quantum Events = Music Success

Building a music career is different than learning how to sing or play an instrument. Practice makes you slightly better with your voice or instrument every day – over years, as you put in your 10,000 hours of work, you steadily move from novice to pro (see Figure 1). To be a truly great and lasting artist, you must master your voice or instrument – a lot of this work is done alone or with bandmates. But mastering an instrument isn’t the same as building a music career, and understanding the difference will improve your chance of success.

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