Artists News Uncategorized

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.


Mike McCready is an entrepreneur at the crossroads of music and technology. He pioneered the introduction of Hit Song Science into the music industry and followed up with Music Xray, the company he co-founded and serves as CEO. His companies have been the subject of case studies at Harvard Business School, IESE and he frequently guest speaks at many of the top business schools around the world. He helps the music industry identify high potential songs and talent and helps musicians get deals, get fans, & get better:

  • Michael Lashaune Haywood

    Yea I wouldn’t trust it. I need to know who these industry professionals are that rate my songs. Until I know that information these ratings are invalid, irrelevant, redundant… Quite vague

  • Geri L

    I’m not sure why I am posting a comment here. I was reading several and felt I needed to express my feelings on music x-ray. I am an independent writer/singer/recorder. I have been doing this on my own for 30 years. Music X-ray seemed so promising when I was introduced to it a few years ago. It is very tempting as a “starving artist” to spend what little money you have on music x-ray with the hopes of “making it”. I did not, fortunately, spend as much on this as I am reading others have. It seems to me this is a way for music x-ray to make a guaranteed $10 from someone who probably can’t afford to spend the money in an effort to have a song heard that they wrote and are very excited about. The more I interact with music x-ray, the more it seems to me that actually “making it” using this site is a dream which probably will not be accomplished, just one we spend quite a bit of money trying to achieve. I, like probably everyone submitting on music x-ray, would like a chance to be heard and have something happen, but I am afraid at this point that this is not very likely to happen and I currently believe it is probably not worth my money to pursue this dream which will likely never be achieved. I am apologetic for my comment, but it is the way it is.

  • Krystal Pistol Holmes

    If anything, the diagnostics and submission set up has forced me to see the importance of serious stand points I’ve often fluttered passed in creation mode that will matter in any forum based on song submissions to the Giants, as I refer to Label Companies. I also refer to Music Xray as the Music Pimps because whether we like it or not all of us know some whoring will be a part of the process. I think it’s like with anything important to the Artistic process, a balance of promotion vanity with a natural modesty involving creative integrity can be reached in small steps made daily by gaining fans and followers which in return, drives us to edit and produce more with them in mind. It’s critical to remember even if a few people admire our work, eventually it will reach the masses left behind as a contribution to this world that will outlive us and as long as the people that don’t do anything but criticize don’t discourage us to stop creating or trying to reach fans, followers and the Giants is what really matters to us as an Artist. The squeaky wheel gets greased and if I had a song selected I’d be writing a letter a day until I was appeased. Or the offer may wait you out and outlive you.

  • Hi Jim. Pardon the delayed response.

    Music Xray is primarily a filter for the music industry. While no system that uses humans to do filtering (which will always have subjective elements) is perfect, our system has shown to be about 92% accurate in knowing whether a song or band is likely to be selected for an opportunity on Music Xray. So yes, if your song gets 1 or 2 stars, chances are it will not be seen in the search engine as you mention. But you’re not paying to be in the search engine. You’re paying so that Music Xray can be much more efficient and effective in finding the needles in the haystack. If your song is a needle, we’re 92% likely to identify it. If it’s not, we’re 8% likely to be mistaken:

    As a filter, our job is to filter out the stuff that doesn’t belong. So in another sense, you’re paying for a decongested highway so that the deserving music gets heard by the right people. If your song gets one and two stars and gets a low Selection Prediction score, and is getting consistently rejected, then you’re forced into a decision to either continue to pay for those results or to leave the site. That’s sort of the point.

    Music Xray is where the real opportunities are and as with anything, there’s a lot of tough competition for the best opportunities. We can’t change the nature of the music business. It’s still heard to break into, but we have been able to make it a lot more about pure talent and skill and a lot less about who you know.

    The industry professionals that rate songs for Diagnostics are volunteers from among the professionals with accounts on the site (invested or approved but all publicly listed. We just don’t indicate which ones are doing some initial screening. And yes, they rotate but your song always goes to someone specialized in your song’s genre.

    Hope this helps.

  • jimcintire

    All – I’ve made a few comments and asked a few questions on how Music X-Ray works. I’ve seen Mike McCready’s responses and they’re about what I would have expected from him. Here is my summation of what you can expect from this site. These are my impressions based on reading other users comments and my experiences. I don’t claim it to be gospel:

    1 – Diagnostics is how they generate most of their revenue for the site. Without it, there would probably be no Music X-Ray. So – accept it and get over it or move on to another site. This is the “pimping” or “whoring” that Krystal mentioned in her comment. I wouldn’t worry about the ratings you receive on Diagnostics. To me they mean nothing because the process is shrouded in mystery and I have no idea who is rating my song, nor do I care.

    2 – Fan matching process – eh, forget it. Mike himself said it needed major re-tooling. That was a while back and I don’t know if it ever happened.

    3 – The real value (IMO) is submitting your song to the drop boxes. Why? Because with that you are getting access to a REAL MIP. I hate that I have to pay another $5 to X-Ray + the drop box fee, but again this is how they make their money. I have had feedback from these guys that sounds genuine and I’m pretty much convinced that IF you have a hit and it’s what they’re looking for, they’ll pick it up. That’s a big IF. At any rate, my guess is you would have a hard time getting this kind of access on your own.

    4 – What happens after your song is “selected” is unknown because it’s never happened to me. I have had quite a few songs put on “hold” by an MIP, which is encouraging, but nothing was ultimately selected. I wouldn’t count on making any money until you see it all laid out in writing and signatures are on the line.

    Most song writers that have been doing this for a while know that this is a TOUGH nut to crack. I mean TOUGH because there is so much competition out there and if you are not right on target with what is selling TODAY, forget it. Don’t mean to sound discouraging, stay true to yourself and good material will always float to the top as long as you have the right person’s attention.

    Good Luck!

    Jim McIntire

  • Shannon Skidmore

    Agreed. I would like to know what song got picked when mine did not.

  • Shannon Skidmore

    Curious what happened with both you on songs accepted.

  • Chaptabois

    Hey guys, in Music Xrays defense. Music Xray is a great platform for musicians. The problem that we are faced with is “Greed”. Most of the “MIPS” are either washed up with fabricated opportunities. Or they are acting on behalf of another company with no deciding power!! I know this because I am very active behind the scenes of Film and TV. I even tried to sign up as a professional to offer some of my “REAL OPPORTUNITIES” to you guys, but guess what. Music Xray declined me. They said I didn’t have enough experience lol!! Google me(chaptabois). My songs have been featured in the brand new movie “southpaw” we did the promotional song for Floyd Mayweathers last fight. We did songs on the hit series “POWER” airing on Starz, and the list goes on and on. Think about it. If you where a hot executive when you joined Music Xray, but then you got fired. What is the best thing to do to keep a steady income!! Fabricate opportunities!! There are thousands of artist here. Do the math lol!! You guys are asking the wrong question in regards to the “diagnostics”money engine. What you should be asking is. Who has been selected for an opportunity solely on diagnostics. My answer would be zero!!! See how that works. Mike is a very smart business man, but you have to keep in mind, that this is a “business” “man” and whats the number one rule in business… “protect the money” Mike, in all honesty the diagnostic program should be refunded and optional. If it’s as good as you say it is, then artist will opt into it.

  • Thanks for this valuable information.. I understand everything you just mention and as you say: He’s a Businessman … If you was looking to join and looking for Artist and give opportunity , for them not to except you is strange.. Your songs have been featured in the movie “southpaw” you did the promotional for Floyd Mayweathers, Songs on the hit series “POWER” , and no entry … Hmmmmm !! I’m thinking about it. I got one crazy track ima try and see what happens .. Ima plug it to the right people and be dead on to give what their looking for, lol … Musicxray Here I come .. Five Star across !! Thank you and Blessings, Chaptabois … Im digging your soundcloud … HARD !!!

  • Paddy Crunden

    Wish you all the best of luck with whatever you’re doing. Don’t take it too seriously it’s only music.. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged I think of these immortal words ………Hot Dog, Jumping Frog, Albuquerque

  • Paddy Crunden

    Hi all good luck with whatever it is you’re doing…remember it’s only music…whenever I feel discouraged I think of these immortal words …………………Hot Dog, Jumping Frog, Albuquerque

  • Well this has been very enlightening for me because even though I’ve been a member here for a few years, I’ve only started submitting songs here and there and most of those have been very recently. My opportunities are limited because my music are Contemporary/Christian/Gospel mostly….that’s just the way it is.
    But I have to say that one recent song submission to a Commercial ad placement was not accepted, but I got a good review on the song itself and he even advised me to submit songs for another opportunity that my fit my genre of songs.
    I too would very much like to license my songs and don’t have much money to spend, but I plan to stick with Musicxray and do what I can when I can…..I’m very hopeful.

    Minister Glenda

  • Paddy Crunden

    OK, was given a “free submission” as I am a new member. I did have some positive feedback from 5 out of the 20 fans which was nice. The real telling point here though is that had I paid 10 dollars for “constructive feedback” from 5 “industry professionals” I would have been very disappointed, as although the responses were very positive only two out of the five could be bothered to engage. Despite this, I have been encouraged to keep submitting songs. Hmmm.
    If all you want is to get your music “out there” and heard by potential fans then perhaps a service such as Radio Airplay may suit you better as you get a lot more plays for your buck, plus can interact via email with your fans. As a disclaimer here I must stress that I don’t subscribe to Radio airplay either but do get a few free plays via my CD’s that are distributed by CD Baby. All the Best, Paddy.

  • jimmywestra

    Yeah I got 1/2 month of submitting songs- not finished
    productions ) zero responses. If I had finished productions i certainly wouldn’t be paying a
    diagnostic for an algorithm to see if my production costs’ were good enough to
    give to another producer to remake
    the entire production for a so called professional artist with writers already on their payroll and I don’t pay a fee to give away finished productions for free. Algorithm odds are better if you are
    trying to SOUND LIKE E V E R Y T H I N G (IN THE BOX)
    Phrase thrown around way too much around here for the amount of works’ being
    turned down because you don’t sound like Minnie Pearl. I sound like Jimmy
    Westra. Yet I don’t do anything inside the box and I can play like any of my
    favorites Artists any time I want. So why am I asked to be original yet asked
    who I sound like in the same sentence. If you want Minnie Pearl Go talk to her
    relatives and see if you can take some of the 52,000 to 72 million 10 to 25
    Dollar diagnostic fees and go buy it from them. Here is a place to get your own
    diagnostic algorithms materials.. It’s in the big box of CD’s at wallmart in
    the center aisle at 2 dollars a pop.. Or K-tell Records from the Original
    Artist Collection. ALL HITS of this day backwards. and nothing in the future as
    an algorithm actually can not predict. These machines (I mean help the artists
    machines) are popping up all over the place rapidly. I would suggest b4 you
    spend all your royalty’s from PAY2PLAY Roster Menus, that your asked to play at
    >even on this sight for= a fee. That you might be better off buying a hit
    song from one of the already famous musicians for $30,000.00 which is cheap for
    a hit song. Or buy your own (help the musician money making machine app)
    franchise for $40,000.00. And jump on the bandwagon thats a
    punn because the market will be flooded with these sites
    within one year and you’ll still be getting promises for a fee as long as you
    PAY2 PLAY for free. And for a fee I promise this will make you famous Like Me.
    For $25.00 I will get you the information to buy an online Franchise guaranteed
    to make you so rich you will hire famous artists to play at your parties in
    your mansions. Or on your yachts. and leave a note on_contact us_
    page .it’s a shit site to show you what you’re submitting yourself to for a fee
    if you insist on being a part of the PAY TO PLAY MARKET the jackals of the industry have
    perfected to sell you a dream. SORRY this is just a song on the flip side of Death
    Destruction on the TV TUNED record I’m selling on itunes. Oh you thought this wasn’t lyrics? Think your five professionals would have acknowledge something OUT OF THE BOX in an instant.

  • jimmywestra

    52,000 I think, or 71 million $10 to $20 dollar diagnostic fees is more than a sanction dude… do the math. I’d hire Katy Perry to do a private party if I made $1,420,000,000.00 in the first 8 months or at least several million a year. sending automatic digital form letters with one sentence. for 20 bucks.

  • I have been on music x-ray for years. I have 7 songs in diagnostics and have submitted in about 25 different oppurtunities and although i have gotten good ratings, some good feedbacks and put on hold multiple times i am starting to believe they care more about the money than helping artists/producers. Plus you’re lucky if you get any feedback from a MIP because most of the time its a generic reply “Good submission- not quite what were seeking” “Good submission but regretfully doesn’t make the final cut” “Good submission- not right for oppurtunity but we will keep in mind for future”

  • Plus i have given feedback to them on the many emails, they responded. They even said eventually they had made changes in the emails, so i was hopeful but as time as proven still same emails and still just as many.

  • Elmer Crampton

    yeah it’s an incredible massive ripoff. you could enter the next Stairway to Heaven and it would be completely ignored. I CANNOT BELIEVE I fell for it and gave them money I HATE MYSELF !! I notice that the fans i got were the same ones you get if you pay for likes on facebook: bots from russian click farms.

  • Elmer Crampton

    i don’t think the industry needs or wants music xray.

  • Elmer Crampton

    “have i got all excited about having a song accepted…is nothing more going to happen now?”

    precisely, you weren’t given any phone numbers, names or emails of the person you are “accepted” by .. you have gained nothing. ZERO.

  • Elmer Crampton

    explain how it is a major step .. ?

  • Elmer Crampton

    Music Xray when giving them money gives me about as much satisfaction as paying a parking ticket.

  • Elmer Crampton

    after you paid the money what did you think of the GOT NOTHIN FOR YA message?

    lol right then i knew i had been TOTALLY RIPPED OFF. I bet this McCready guy laughs his butt off at all us easy marks damn

  • Elmer Crampton

    Music Xray got me a fan. A fan from Jakara, Indonesia .. i’m sorry but that is click farm that is not a real person in Indonesia liking my music. I want a fan from INDIANA or FLORIDA .. seriously you are selling us fans from Indonesia ?? INDONESIA?!?

  • Hi Mike, I am very skeptical by nature especially about computer generated diagnostics and those working within Any industry bubble to feel the pulse of regular folks – especially the germaphobes. Who has the magik to know what’s next in anything? Computers can’t feel or tap their feet, Giggle, or deal with anomalies! However, I am also curious through nature and was excited about testing some of my songs on your site. So, I am happy to report (at no charge to you) that you passed my first diagnostic test.
    My first paid diagnostics for a song (which i took advantage of via one of your email offers), failed to live up to your pros. It was like musical roadkill. Clearly, you didn’t want my money that badly. But the PPF ratio (I already know some stuff about my music ) was right on target. So, I spent much more. Congratulations. I have decided to invest my stash in your music tree. I worry about some of the strength of the limbs you offer but I am gonna trust that they have the integrity I seek for my climb. I still don’t believe in pros unless I write them. Hoping for the best, Ric

  • Diagnostics is pseudo-science, a nerdy scheme sold as a scientific way of getting heard. Ultimately, however, all selections are made on a subjective basis. So despite all good intentions, the diagnostics scheme works more like a scam than science.

  • Tyra Amirah Goldstein

    Hello @Mike! I’m so confused. The agreement I paid for was a $10 diagnostics to send to 5 professionals FREE. However, after the fee I am being asked to pay $15 to send to one professional? Can you please explain what I’m missing here?