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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.


Hometaping: Anyone can make music. Record yours this November!

Some people think only the talented or the beautiful can make music. This is rubbish. Anyone can enjoy making music. And everyone has something worth making a noise about. Hometaping is a big effort to get as many people as possible to make an album of music in one month - that month being this November. It’s a celebration of what happens when they do.

Click to read more ...


The Virtual Tour, Parts II and III (OR: Keep Your Studio Slippers On!)

To successfully promote your music you need to be able to influence potential listeners from all across the web. A new and potentially effective method of increasing the recognition of your music, influencing new listeners and spreading the awareness of you, as a band or musician, is to set up a virtual tour.

In this article we look at why you should be setting up a virtual music tour, how to find blogs to host your tour and how to get the most out of the experience. In the final paragraph I share a trick that has proved to be a very powerful way of encouraging listeners to interact and leave blog comments.

What Is A Virtual Tour?

The basic structure of a virtual tour is a collection of different types of web/blog posts, hosted on a number of different sites/blogs, all promoting your band and/or music. A simple example: the tour might be six different blogs to each post about your band/music, each posting on six consecutive days. Another example might be four different blogs, one standard website, and an announced and date specified new video post on your youtube channel, over a one week period.

The idea behind a virtual tour is that the musician/band has a chance to influenc

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There is no money in the music industry: Are we all in it for the money though!?

It is a cold Tuesday morning here in NYC and on the typical walk from LES to Chelsea I notice all the boys and girls in their fancy suits and dresses. Money is evidently a huge motivator for people, the root of all evil some will tell you. It got me sighing - if only music was still swimming in pools of cash. But I am comfortable with that. My motivator is the challenges this industry faces. I love a challenge. So I think, is less money maybe a good thing?

Everyone moans there is no money in the music industry. I am one of them. I understand the problems that come from this; less money to reinvest in new artists, less risk-taking for new music, less money for artists’ creativity and intellectual property etc. Everyone needs a pay cheque and rightly so. How much of a pay cheque do we really need to do our dream jobs though?

This could be a great thing for the industry. A chance to take the trash out. The majors are suffering due to lacking any entrepreneurial intelligence, trying to acknowledge the social movements happening on the ground or having foresight.

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Relationships Are The New Distribution

Social Media superhero Chris Brogan recently wrote a post on the basics – the 4 P’s of marketing(product, price, place, and promotion) and talked about how many people don’t spend enough time on their Product, and try to make up for it in Promotion. If that doesn’t work they try competing on Price. But rarely is much time spent thinking about Place.

This got me thinking about how music is marketed, and how absolutely right he is. A lot of indie musicians tend to spend the majority of their time on Product and Promotion, with Price usually being the standard $0.99 per track. The common mistake is in thinking that Place, which is your distribution, is taken care of once you’ve gotten your music up on iTunes or Bandcamp.

I think we need to start thinking of distribution as more than just where people download or buy your music from, and maybe shuffle a few P’s around in the process.

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Internet Radio Is The Future......Duh

On my site called IntoTheMusic.Biz I wrote a little rant about articles I had been reading:

I run across articles with titles like “Internet Radio is the Future”. This cracks me up. Its like writing a book on the fact that the sky is blue.

But, last night, a friend of mine and I were talking about how I’ve never owned a tv. My friend said “how do you get the news then?”. I didn’t know how to respond. I’m not in Orange County anymore and this person is a little older than me, but really?

Here’s some links to articles like this (I hope they’re written by people who live in the jungle):
Internet Radio A Favourable Choice For All Your Favorite Music

Is Internet Radio The Future?


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

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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…”

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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?

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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.

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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:

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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).

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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.”

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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.

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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*

-    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… 

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