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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.

Thursday
Oct282010

How to Get Endorsements or Sponsors for your band, tour, record, etc.

While conducting music business industry panels across the country, I’m often asked one question more than anything else: “How do I get an endorsement?” Other variations include “How do I get a sponsor?” or “How do I get free stuff?”

My philosophy is that if this is your point of view, you’re probably already doomed. Sponsors (whether music instrument companies, beer, or clothes, etc.) don’t care about what they can do for you. They care about what you can do for them – or rather, what you can do together. So to begin with, you have to switch the mentality from “What can I gain from this?” to “What can we gain from this relationship?” Below are a few things that I recommend in your approach:

Ask, straight up: There’s a saying that “the answer is always no until you ask.” In the music industry, there are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who wait for things to happen, and those who wonder “what the heck just happened?” Don’t wait for an opportunity. Create it by initiating contact, networking, or asking the right questions that will get you a lead, information on how to get a sponsor, etc. Don’t be afraid in emailing, calling, or scheduling an appointment to do an in-person presentation on why they should sponsor you. That being said…

The Approach: Find a way to be unique, succinct, and intriguing with your ini

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct192010

Are You Really Selling Music?

It is critical in any business to ask yourself several questions before starting. As a performing artist (or songwriter, composer, producer…), one question you must ask yourself at some point is, “What am I selling?”.

One of the biggest ‘light bulb’ moments I ever had was as a senior in high-school, when I learned the story of Ray Kroc. For those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, let me explain….

Ray Kroc is the man milkshake machine salesman who took McDonalds from being a small,  innovative, fast food restaurant, into the largest restaurant chain the world has ever seen. Before he died, he was asked what was his secret to selling burgers. His reply was simply, “I’m not in the burger business, I’m in the real estate business…”

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct182010

Face the Interface

Designers often tend to talk about the pre- and the post-iPod era. Touch sensitive controllers, minimized into one jog wheel that intuitively allows all control you need to use a mobile music device became the role model. A blueprint of how content has to be accessible to the user on a slick device (even though the iPod has some control bugs). 

Tomorrow you will not see many keyboard or knob based interfaces any more. It’s all becoming gestures, multitouch, intuitive, customizability.

The crucial question is, how will content like music be consumed and ‘handled’ in a touchscreen environment?

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct152010

Is “Pay to Play” Okay?

When our band, “Control the Chaos” decided to hit the highway in June 2010, it was with the intention to spread our branded style of “Vegas Molten Metal” to the masses. After all, what better way to do that than literally go from city to city on tour? Besides, we’d been pretty aggressive in Vegas so we figured it was time to give the venues and our fans some needed time to miss us. We mapped the routes, did our own booking, loaded up our equipment, said our prayers and decided to go for it.

A couple observations: Each city definitely had its own unique vibe and style – no surprise there, but we also started to see a strong pattern of pay-to-play requirements especially as we got into the larger shows and bigger venues. We also found that more places up North were willing to negotiate a guarantee based on success of the show, where many Southwest venues wanted more assurance ($$). Mind you, nobody called it “pay to play”. Rather it was wrapped around the pre-sale ticket requirement policy that many clubs and venues have adopted.

Click to read more ...

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).

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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… 

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...

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?

Click to read more ...

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.

Click to read more ...