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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
Mar242011

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar232011

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar162011

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar162011

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 likeping.fm or artistdata to save time if you must.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar142011

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.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar112011

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.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar102011

Don't Play The Lotto

Many people (more than you realize) have a distorted view of the entertainment business. Sure, everyone knows it’s tough in the beginning. But once you catch your break, once you’re discovered by the right gatekeepers, it’s nothing but groupies, parties, and private jets…right?  Wrong. Those lifestyle trappings are out of reach for the vast majority of people that make the pilgrimage to New York, LA, and Nashville in search of stardom. And of those who can attain that level of success, there are even fewer who are able to maintain it for more than a relatively brief period of time. 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar102011

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?

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar042011

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).

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar042011

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:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar042011

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

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar022011

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”

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar022011

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.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb252011

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.

Click to read more ...