The Key To Understanding Music Xray is Understanding “Diagnostics”

Posted by Mike McCready | June 27th, 2015 | 27 Responses


Music Xray’s primary job is to find the needles in the haystack. A needle is any song or act deserving of being selected for any opportunity throughout the industry. Diagnostics insures we gather the information to enable us to do our best.

What is Diagnostics? Diagnostics is a one-time per song purchase that costs $10 and must be purchased for each song that is submitted directly to any opportunity or any industry professional on the site. Once Diagnostics has been purchased for a song it becomes “Diagnostics Exempt” and may be submitted to an unlimited number of opportunities without ever being required to purchase Diagnostics again.

Diagnostics serves two purposes:

1. It tells you where your music stands compared to other music that may be competing for similar opportunities. It generates recommended next steps based on the industry and fan reaction. And perhaps most importantly, it shows you the likelihood your music will be selected for an opportunity via the site, assuming you employ a best-practices submission strategy.

2. It tells the industry where your music stands and how to find it. Because Diagnostics enables us to gather enough information about your music to make it easily searchable for industry professionals in our industry-only search & discovery engine called Needlestack. This increases the chances your music has of being discovered by industry professionals who conduct searches for music with specific characteristics, such as high production quality, interesting hooks, mood, topic, etc.

We cover both purposes in detail below.

Purpose 1: To tell you where your music stands…

See the key for each item below the graphic:

A. The number of professionals who have heard and rated this song (at least 5 professionals rate the song upon your first submission – serious professionals from among our over 1500 professional users currently seeking songs and talent, so if the song blows one of them away, a deal or relationship may ensue and often does).

B. The average of the ratings received from industry professionals.

C. Where the song stands among all other songs that have been rated on Music Xray (hundreds of thousands).

D. The percentage of potential fans who after hearing the song for the first time became a direct fan (which provides that fan’s email address and Facebook profile link to the musician). As part of your first transaction with us, we send the song to a pool of 20 potential fans we’ve identified based on the fan’s music taste. We have a pool of tens of thousands of fans (and growing fast) who have signed up on Music Xray to discover new bands and songs.

E. Typically, we target potential fans from that pool for you (when there’s a match between the song and the fan’s taste profile) for $0.33 per fan. If 100% of those fans convert to direct fans of yours, the cost per acquired fan would be $0.33, but at a 35% conversion rate, that cost is $0.92 per acquired fan. A 35% conversion rate is not bad at all! The cost reflected here is what real contactable fans will likely cost you if you were to continue targeting fans on Music Xray. It’s up to you to decide what is acceptable to pay per acquired fan, based on your ability to monetize their fan base.

F. Based on the information in A. B. C. D. & E., we tell you the likelihood your song will be selected for an opportunity on the site. To reach this result, Music Xray uses machine learning algorithms and statistical probability calculations. It also requires the artist to employ a “best practices submission strategy”. To learn what that is and how we calculate the results, click here.

G. Based on the information in A. B. C. D. & E., we provide recommended next steps for submissions to opportunities and the industry professionals behind them. If the results are not encouraging, we recommend not to submit the song to further opportunities and sometimes we recommend you get song help improving the song. We make many top industry professionals on the site available to offer song critiques and career coaching.

H. Based on the information in A. B. C. D. & E., we provide recommended next steps for fan acquisition. If the data is not encouraging, we often recommend not continuing using the song to acquire fans.

I. This is the song activity chart that tells you what is happening with your song on the site at any time. Did you acquire a new fan? Was your song heard by an industry professional? Was your song displayed in a search result etc.

Purpose 2: To make your music searchable for the industry…

Music Xray offers industry professionals access to a sophisticated search engine called Needlestack Music Search.

Every day professionals use this search engine to find the best new music on the site. They usually do this by first seeking certain characteristics such as mood or a certain lyric phrase, or bpm – which are things you enter as meta data for your song. But then they filter for quality, so they look for songs that at least a few industry professionals have heard and that obtain good ratings on things like composition, productions, and hit potential. Each professional can decide which attributes are important and adjust the filters accordingly to find they songs that match their criteria.

Most professionals set the filters in Needlestack to display only the songs that have been heard by at least 5 industry professionals.

In other words, if your song hasn’t been heard by at least 5 professionals, it is unlikely to be found. That’s why Diagnostics obtains 5 industry ratings immediately for your song, upon your first transaction on the site. And this is showing results. About half the deals between artists and the industry on Music Xray occur due to Needlestack music search.

Below is an image of Needlestack. Notice the search criteria settings. This particular search is showing:

All the energetic pop songs sung by females with a BPM range between 10 and 300 that in the past month have been heard by at least 5 industry professionals and that have received average ratings of at least 4 out of 5 stars on all criteria (composition, production, arrangement, performance, and hit potential.

Show me all the energetic pop songs sung by females with a BPM range between 10 and 300 that have been heard by at least 5 industry professionals in the past week and that get an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars on all criteria.

Show me all the energetic pop songs sung by females with a BPM range between 10 and 300 that have been heard by at least 5 industry professionals in the past week and that get an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars on all criteria.


Selection Prediction On Music Xray

Posted by Mike McCready | June 26th, 2015 | 3 Responses

See the video announcement!

We’ve come up with predictive data model that is over 90% accurate. That is to say, if we tell you your song is 84% likely to be selected for an opportunity on Music Xray, we say that with over 92% confidence.

Explained briefly, the Selection Prediction calculation presumes a song will be submitted to at least 20 opportunities on Music Xray and that the submissions will be done intelligently and realistically. That means, our calculations presume, for example, that rock songs will not be submitted to opportunities seeking EDM, female singers won’t be submitted to opportunities seeking male vocalists, etc. It also presumes submissions will go to a variety of opportunity types.

Keep in mind that labels sign only a few bands per year, whereas music supervisors license many songs per month. Submitters shouldn’t make only “long shot” submissions but rather take aim at a variety of opportunity types.

Selection predictions are based on a number of calculations and high scores are not a guarantee of a track to be selected. Low scores do not mean a track will not be selected. In fact, we’ve seen tracks selected for opportunities that according to our data would have only had a 10% chance. Selection Prediction scores are meant to help you decide which of your songs should get more of your time & effort when it comes to pursuing opportunities.

Variables that shift and that depend on the submitter include a ‘best practices’ submission strategy and continuously shifting market variables such as the number of available opportunities that are appropriate for the track.

We re-calculate every few weeks so that the probability of a song being selected reflects the current state of the variables mentioned above.

Continue reading for more information…

Music Xray observes every touch-point between many of the industry’s top
professionals and the songs and acts they react to every day. We’ve been doing it for over 5 years and in that time we’ve accumulated a lot of data.

We’ve observed things such as:

  • The average number of songs each professional tends to hear before selecting one for their opportunities.
  • The minimum ratings on criteria such a composition, production, arrangement, performance, and hit potential that selected songs have received.
  • The correlation between the ratings songs are given by professionals and the likelihood a song will be selected for an opportunity at all.
  • The average number of “intelligent” submissions required for songs receiving specific ratings to be selected for an opportunity.

How we compute the percentage

We’ve plugged our data into Amazon’s Machine Learning platform and we’ve been able to make some very interesting and accurate predictions about a song’s potential performance on Music Xray.

By observing:

  • Your songs ratings
  • Your songs genre
  • Music Industry Professional acceptance and rejection rates

We’ve come up with predictive data model that is over 90% accurate. That is to say, if we tell you your song is 84% likely to be selected for an opportunity on Music Xray, we say that with over 90% confidence.

Maximizing Music Xray

Best Practices Submission Strategy:

Of course, it all depends on the submitter employing a “best practices” submission strategy. Submitters who do this will outcompete those who do not and thereby increase their song’s chances of garnering a selection.

A best practices submission strategy can largely be accomplished by applying common sense:

  • Don’t submit your song to opportunities seeking songs in different genres from your song.
  • Always fill out the meta-data for your songs including lyrics, artist bio, an image, etc…
  • Don’t take unrealistic shots. For example, don’t submit to a major label unless you’re confident you have what it takes to get on their roster – they don’t sign many acts and the ones they do tend to have significant traction.

The best way to make sure you follow a best practices strategy is to buy and read this book, published by former Columbia Records executive and hit song writer, Norman Dolph.

It’s short and to the point and it will save you a lot of time, money, and
frustration. It will help you out-compete those who choose not to read it.

Why might the likelihood change over time?

Music Xray is a dynamic site. These are some of the things that could change the likelihood your song may be selected:

  • New songs entering the site with especially strong ratings or especially weak ratings change the competitive landscape, making it easier or harder for your song to be selected.
  • An increase or decrease in the number of professionals seeking songs like yours. Fewer opportunities will increase the competition for the opportunities.
  • The selection rates of professionals with the opportunities (sync license opportunities tend to select many more songs/acts than record labels, which may only sign a few acts per year.

LA Reid: X Factor ‘destroyed my taste in music’

Posted by Mike McCready | June 7th, 2015 | No responses – 

Legendary record label boss Antonio ‘LA’ Reid used his appearance at MIDEM to dismiss his time as a judge on The X Factor, claiming the show “almost destroyed” his taste in music.

“I adjusted my taste for television,” the Epic Records chairman/CEO told the MIDEM Pepsi breakfast, where he appeared in conversation with Pepsi’s chief marketing officer of global consumer engagement, Frank Cooper, and former X Factor UK host, Kate Thornton. “But, the truth is, I lowered my bar and, as a result, I didn’t have the same level of success. My bar is quite high again but it was damaging. I worked with Simon Cowell who I love and have great respect for, but Simon has a very specific taste and also a very strong presence. So, being around him for that amount of time, I started to take on his taste in music. He’s an expert at it, but I’m an amateur at having Simon’s taste. I’m good at having LA’s taste!”

During the good-natured panel, Reid – who appeared as a judge on the first two series of The X Factor USA – also said taking on the role was “the worst thing I could have ever done”.

“The first season I had a great time,” he said, “Because it was a little bit of a vacation to be honest. The second season I was fully engaged in trying to build a record company and it was a distraction.”

Nonetheless, Reid insisted the US version had actually been a relative success in terms of viewing figures, and was only considered a flop because fellow judge and X Factor creator Simon Cowell had predicted it would attract 20 million viewers, rather than the “14 million” it actually got.

“The truth is The Voice cleaned our clock,” he said. “The Voice came out, they pushed a button and the chair turned around!”

Reid also questioned whether any truly great artists had been discovered on TV talent shows.

“There are some people who become great stars as a result of having a TV platform, but I’m going to go out on a limb, only a certain kind of an artist would even audition for a TV talent show,” he said. “My guess is the great ones never would. I just can’t see Prince on American Idol. I just can’t see Kanye [West] standing waiting for the judges to say yes or no to his career.”

Reid also promised further revelations about his time on the show in a forthcoming book.