The Music Xray Blog
technology enhanced identification of high potential songs & talent
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How music lovers can manually enter their music taste information in their Fan Match profile

Posted by Mike McCready | January 25th, 2013 | 31 Responses

Sometimes Facebook does not have enough information about your music tastes for us to be able to know which music we should send you. When that happens, fans can enter their taste information manually (and change it as often as they please).

To do so, please follow the information in this short instructional video:

Get Ready for Music Xray Diagnostics. It’s Like Having a GPS for Your Songs

Posted by Mike McCready | January 15th, 2013 | 42 Responses

We’re going to be rolling out some new features and we’d like to tell you about them.

 

Our new Music Xray Diagnostics will help you track your progress toward success and if a song is likely to have a tough time getting a deal we’ll let you know right up front because no one wants to just spin their wheels and not get anywhere.

 

In short, we want to insure no one spends more time, effort, and money pursuing deals than is absolutely necessary. At the same time, we wouldn’t want anyone to give up right before they’re likely to see success. Diagnostics is like a GPS for your music because it tells you where the song stands, how many submissions it’s likely to take before a deal is secured, and how powerful a song is in helping you attract fans.

 

Which is your best song? Now you can know. Which one is most compelling to potential fans upon their first listen? Now you can know. How does your song stack up against others? Now you can know.

 

Starting in a few weeks, this is what you’ll see. Read below for an explanation…

 

You will see where the song stands.

 

We’ll show you how your song is perceived by the industry and how its rating compare to all the other songs on the site.

 

Next, we’ll show you the average number of times songs that were rated similar submitted before being selected for an opportunity. From now on, you’ll know what the path to getting a deal for your song looks like.

 

We also show you the song’s fan appeal and whether it’s good, fair, or not so good. You’ll know exactly what new fans are costing you to acquire using this song – and of course you’ll always know how many potential fans we’ve pre-identified for you.

 

Then, we show you an activity chart which is updated daily. Each day you will know if your song is dormant, pacing or if it is advancing your career, based around the attention and activity it is receiving on the site, and you’ll always know what you can do to improve the results for this song.

 

We’ll be back soon with all the details about how this will work and how to access this information in your account.

In the meantime, if you like what we’re doing here at Music Xray, please like this post on Facebook, tweet about it and leave us any feedback (positive or otherwise) below. Here are some current opportunities on the site.

Activate the Music Xray App in the SoundCloud App Gallery between today and December 21st at midnight EST and be considered for an audition for NBC’s The Voice

Posted by Mike McCready | December 11th, 2012 | No responses

Whew… that’s a long headline but it does say what this is.

We’re working with SoundCloud this week to draw attention to the Music Xray App in the SoundCloud App gallery.

Activating the app places you in a pool from which 10 musicians will be chosen for private audition slots for NBC’s The Voice. Upon activation, your SoundCloud track library is analyzed with acoustic analysis software and automatically matched to real industry opportunities. Then, we put you in touch with the decision makers behind each opportunity and we guarantee they listen and respond. Seriously!

Finally, a level playing field where it doesn’t matter who you know. All that matter are your talent, skill, and your artistic appeal.

Starting today and until the 21st of December, everyone who activates the app will be from among those chosen for several slots for private auditions for The Voice in January and February in various cities across the United States.

All you have to do is activate the app to be eligible.

And if by chance you’re a current Music Xray user without a SoundCloud account, what are you waiting for? Music Xray works best with SoundCloud.

Activate the Music Xray App in the SoundCloud App gallery right now.

How to enter your similar artists on Music Xray

Posted by Mike McCready | December 3rd, 2012 | 2 Responses

Every musician / content owner should enter similar artist data for each of their tracks on Music Xray. Doing so helps insure your tracks can be found by industry professionals via Music Xray’s search engine (available only to the industry professionals with accounts on the site). It also insures you can target the fans of the artists you enter as similar to you.

In other words, when you run a Fan Match campaign, you target the fan base of the artists you enter as being similar to you. Plus, as soon as you enter the data, we tell you how many potential fans we have already identified for you.

Recently, we’ve had a few customer service inquiries asking about how to enter this information. Many times, the site simply prompts you, but another way to do it is to edit your tracks and scroll down to the part where it asks you to enter search related data. From there, follow the instructions in the video below.

It’s important that you follow these instructions EXACTLY in order to avoid a database error.

Fan Appeal: How do you stack up against major artists? It’s easy to know.

Posted by Mike McCready | November 29th, 2012 | 2 Responses



Today we looked at a few of the recent singles released this week by major artists and stacked them up against some Music Xray artists. You can compare yourself too, as we’ll explain below.

The major artist songs are ones that are likely to be hits within their genres in the coming weeks but currently haven’t been heard by a massive audience. So, we ran a small Fan Match campaign for each of them to see how potential fans within each target audience will react.

Think of a Fan Match campaign as a highly sophisticated Focus Group. But in this kind of focus group, we’re actually trying to turn the participants into genuine fans of the music we play for them.

We send each song to an audience of 45 to 60 people (a sub group of our large fan pool), different audiences for each song. Each audience is targeted based on their taste. In other words, they like similar artists to the one they are hearing.

After hearing the song, the audience member has the choice to do nothing, in which case they just go away. They heard the song and weren’t impressed enough to engage. Or, they can choose to click a button that indicates they like the song enough to want to join that artist’s mailing list. In that case, they are considered an “acquired fan”.

We calculate the ratio of people who heard the song and did nothing vs people who heard the song and joined the artist as an official fan.

Music Xray charges the artist $0.33 for each potential fan who hears the song.

So, if the artist acquires one of every two potential fans, the cost per fan acquisition would be $0.66. That would be an excellent result, by the way.

In other words, for the 66 cents, the artist is getting the email address of the fan and a link to the fan’s own Facebook profile. The artist’s “cost per fan acquisition” is $0.66.

So, when we play your new song to your intended audience and you acquire fans more cheaply than Toby Keith acquires fans when he plays his new song to his intended audience… that says something.

That information should have weight when artists and labels make decisions about which music to promote. This kind of test enables very different artists to be compared as apples to apples and may provide important information about which songs / artists are able to penetrate their intended markets with less resistance.

In other words, which artist / songs are better investments?

(Learn how to launch your own Fan Match campaign here).

We ran a campaign for the new 50 Cent single that features Adam Levine and Eminem. We targeted already existing fans of 50 Cent, Eminem, and Maroon 5 (in a Fan Match campaign, you get to target fans of other acts – so if you think Barry Manilow’s fans would really dig you, then you can target people who like Barry Manilow). The result? 50 Cent’s name is about 21 cents shy. He should consider changing his name to 71 Cent because that’s what each fan is costing him. That’s a pretty good rate but we’ve seen better.

Then, we ran Toby Keith’s new single, “Hope On The Rocks” and we targeted fans of Toby Keith, Keith Urban, and Garth Brooks. Toby’s new single acquired fans at $0.73 per fan. Not bad at all.


Granted, both of those campaigns are stil in progress so the results are still preliminary but we know from experience that these numbers will likely be very similar when the campaign completes and has been heard by all 60 targeted people. But let’s compare those results that to a few completed campaigns for independent artists. Check this out; this Music Xray artist targeted fans of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones with his song “Shoebox Full of God” which acquired fans at $0.48.

In other words, Paul Turner is more compelling to his target audience than either 50 Cent or Toby Keith are to theirs!

Our Fan Match product is off the hook!

Every few weeks we’ll post the results of some major artist singles so you can calibrate gauge and compare your market appeal against major artists.

Here are some other acts on the site with completed campaigns who have fared quite well compared to the two superstar acts at the top of this post.

The important thing to note; not all of these songs are exceptionally remarkable. But, they resonate with their intended audiences and through Fan Match, you can reach the intended audience and engage the fans.

How to verify if your newly-acquired fans are real people

Posted by Mike McCready | November 27th, 2012 | 1 Response

Today we’re rolling out a new little feature to help you know the identities of your new fans.

Until today, we only showed you the email address of your new fans, and some artists wondered if there were real people behind the addresses. Well, now you can verify for yourself by clicking the Facebook link next to each fan in the results of your Fan Match campaign.

Just click the icon and presto, you land on your new fan’s Facebook profile.

You can “friend” them, engaged them, and develop a relationship with them. Turn them into a true fan. Get enough of them and you can quit your day job.

In fact, click here to see one idea for a pathway to earning a living as a full time musician.

A viable path to making a living as a full-time musician

Posted by Mike McCready | November 27th, 2012 | 1 Response



Many argue that if you have 1,000 true fans who are engaged you could make enough money to earn a modest living and dedicate your full time work to your music. Once you reach that level, you can quit your day job and you’ve got a foundation upon which you can build a music career.

So if that’s true, we thought, let’s build a tool that helps musicians get that done as quickly as possible. We did. It’s been running for a while and the results surpass our most optimistic expectations so it’s time to connect the dots.

Acquiring new fans without a major promotion, a hit, or some other career altering event has always been hard work. Little by little building up a loyal following can take years. In order to short circuit that process and acquire an online fan base, many artists have paid someone to drive in new Twitter followers, YouTube views, Facebook likes and later were disappointed because the quality of relationship they are able to build with these kinds of “fans” couldn’t exactly be defined as “engaged”. Sometimes, many of those fans turned out to not even be real people.

Other musicians have paid to have their music played on one of the streaming radio companies and in return received a few email addresses of people who are supposedly are into them. But then they send them an email and never hear back.

Yeah. We’ve been there.

We created Fan Match to solve that problem; to hook real music fans (whose identity you access) up with independent musicians. So, we started letting music fans who say they want to discover new music, sign up for our site. They tell us what kind of music they like.

Then, when you upload new tracks (or edit existing tracks you already have in Music Xray), you enter the names of three known artists whose fans would likely be your fans too if they only heard your music. As soon as you enter that information, we show you how many fans we have in our database who might be in to you. As our fan pool grows over time, so does the number of fans who are likely to like your music. Every time you log in you can see how that number grows (this is all free on Music Xray and you can go calculate the number of fans we have for you right now).

So let’s say our system says we have 150 potential fans for you. When you run a Fan Match campaign, we send your track to those 150 potential fans and we guarantee they will listen. When they do listen, they decide if they want to become your “direct fan”. If they do, you get their email address and a link to their Facebook profile. Plus, they can even tip you real money.

Speaking of which, that’s a bit of an upgrade we just made.

Fans acquired via a Fan Match campaign now include a link to the fan’s Facebook profile.

If you have already run a Fan Match campaign, go check in on it right now. You will notice that all of your acquired fans now have a Facebook icon beside the new fan’s email address. Now, you can just click through and see who your new fan is.

So, the best way to use Fan Match is to run small campaigns. Learn how the product works, how to launch a campaign and how we calculate your cost per acquired fan. Once you’re confident the product works and that the fans you acquire are by and large engaging, launch a campaign to acquire 1,000. Then, all you have to do is engage your fans once you acquire them. “Friend” them on Facebook, engage them, develop a relationship with them, covert them into true fans. Then, quit your day job. Tell us about it when you do and we’ll feature you on the site.

Click here to learn how to see the number of potential fans we have for you.

Click here to see how we calculate your average cost per acquired fan.

See today’s announcement about the new Facebook profile link to your new fans.

Questions many musicians have after starting to use Music Xray

Posted by Mike McCready | November 20th, 2012 | 10 Responses

We want to take this opportunity on our blog to address some of the frequent questions that people ask when they are first introduced to Music Xray.

We hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to add your comments below. We will do our best to reply and clarify any additional questions.

Thank you for using Music Xray.

Mike McCready

Co-founder

CEO

1. Should musicians pay to submit to the industry?

The most important “ah-ha” moment you can have is realizing that no matter what your opinion is, if you are not embracing all of the new technology-based tools that help you advance your career, you are being out-competed by those who do. No two ways about it. It’s a fact. Before you write off any avenue toward success, make sure you understand the nuances.

Prior to Music Xray, it felt free to get your music to the ears of the decision-makers. But it took a lot of time and it wasn’t easy to find the deals, reach the decision-makers, convince them to listen to your music, follow up, be careful not to be a pest, follow up again, and then finally maybe get an answer.

Additionally, many of the companies on Music Xray had a policy of not accepting unsolicited material, so even if you knew how to reach them, chances are your submission went right into the trash.

The advantage in the music business went to those with the best network of contacts, those with the best access. Even then they weren’t guaranteed that their music would be heard and that they would get a response.

Music Xray has created a level playing field. The fees are low enough that access is not cost-prohibitive and now anyone can reach almost any decision-maker in the business at the click of a mouse. It’s now not about who you know. It’s about your music, your talent, and your market appeal.

If you have the best (or most appropriate) music, you are very likely to get a deal on Music Xray.

Music Xray’s business model has been subject of business school case studies. When you think of Music Xray as enabling you to play on a level field, it makes a lot of sense.

2. How many submissions does it take to get a deal?

Statistically speaking, songs and bands that land deals on Music Xray submit one song an average of 10 to 12 times.

Often songs land deals on their first few submissions. It happens frequently, but it’s not a good idea to count on that.

The important thing is to know how you’re doing. The best practice is to submit each song to at least 5 or 6 different opportunities. Once your song has been rated by 5 industry professionals, you will get to see the ratings. If the ratings average three stars and above, keep submitting. The odds are strongly in your favor. If the ratings are lower, stop submitting that song. The odds are against it landing you a deal.

The saddest thing we see on the site is a song submitted only a couple times, being rejected and not submitted again. In other words, many musicians shoot themselves in the foot by giving up too soon. The song may be getting great ratings by the professionals who heard it but it just didn’t make the final cut. The odds of songs that get high ratings eventually landing a deal on Music Xray are quite high.

Know your ratings. Know your ratings. Know your ratings.

It’s the most reliable indicator af whether or not you’re likely to get a deal. Click here to understand why we wait until you’ve received 5 ratings before showing them to you.

3. How many music submissions do professionals receive? What are your chances?

Professionals receive music from all over. But being selected is not a game of chance. It’s a matter of how good your music is, similar to a job application process. It doesn’t matter how many apply. The best candidate will get the job.

The fact is that friends of industry professionals send them stuff, their industry contacts send them material, and their physical and email inboxes overflow. You are always competing with others. But that’s not new.

Music Xray doesn’t limit the competition you face. We guarantee that you are among those who are considered for the deal. Whereas in the past you had very little chance of being considered for so many deals, we now put you at the front of the line. That’s a guarantee and a service you can’t get anywhere else.

Keep in mind, Music Xray does not allow industry professionals to have inactive accounts on the site. In order to maintain a profile on Music Xray, they must agree to attend to and reply to every submission they receive.

A common misperception is that having a personal relationship with an industry professional increases your chances of getting a deal. That’s only true when all else is equal, meaning the professional has found two perfect songs or bands they want to sign but they have a relationship with one of the managers. Yes, it’s likely the deal will go to the one with the relationship. But that doesn’t happen often.

Most of the time, a professional will do business with the band or song that best fits their business needs, regardless of a pre-existing relationship. So, it is not a game of chance. It is not a lottery.

Success is based on you being at the table and having the best song or band.

4. Should you concentrate on getting fans or getting a deal?

Your ultimate quest is to get enough fans to support yourself and upon which to build a career. Getting a deal is simply an accelerator to getting mass exposure to fans.

A deal can get you in front of such a large number of potential fans that you will save lots of time and money by taking a deal that gets you both mass exposure and engaged fans who spend money with you.

So, you should always be pursuing deals you think will help your career and while you are doing that, you should be doing everything you can to cultivate your fan base.

Many allege that with a fan base of 1,000 true fans you can make enough of a living to dedicate your full time work to your music. From there, you can build an amazing career.

That is why we launched Fan Match within Music Xray. We knew that in today’s hyper-connected world it’s hard to get potential fans to pay attention. Fan Match guarantees the attention of people who are likely to like your music. You should give it a shot.

Click here to learn how to calculate the number of fans we have for you and to learn how to launch a Fan Match campaign.

Click here to learn how we calculate your cost per acquired fan.

These are not like fake Twitter followers or ghost Facebook “likes”. These are real fans with real email addresses who listen to your music and decide whether or not to give you their email address.

Fan Match is incredible and is generating amazing results for many artists. They are acquiring new fans at a very low cost per acquired fan.

5. What should musicians spend money on?

You should invest in anything that advances your career.

In the past, the music industry invested a lot in artist development. That’s not as true any more because so many producers, managers, and DIY artists don’t wait around for someone to come along and invest in them. They do it themselves.

Being a musician is a profession with a lot of competition. But a spark of creativity that’s well-performed can trump any odds you may face.

The important thing is to not get hung up on what used to be free, what someone else used to not have to pay for, etc. The important thing is to take responsibility for your career and for getting it to the next level.

You should work with and pay money to any reputable company or professional who helps you get that done for less time and/or less money than it would cost you via any other method.

The primary services you need are digital distribution, lessons / feedback from those who have gone before you in the business, getting deals, getting fans, managing your fans base, collaborating with other musicians, having a professional online presence, touring, recording, producing, mixing, mastering, PR etc. You get the point.

Research the companies you’re going to work with. Don’t get scammed. Music is a highly aspirational business and there is always someone ready to help separate you from your money without providing value.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at support@musicxray.com if we can help.

The Business School Case Studies on Music Xray

Posted by Mike McCready | November 18th, 2012 | 1 Response

The team behind Music Xray has been involved in making the music and talent discovery process for industry professionals more efficient, less risky, and more accurate for over a decade, with many years of experience in entrepreneurship and the music industry prior to that.

Music Xray co-founders Mike McCready and Tracie Reed led a music tech start-up called Polyphonic HMI in the early 2000’s and introduced a revolutionary hit prediction technology called Hit Song Science. The technology was credited with detecting the success potential of Norah Jones well before she was on anyone’s radar and helped determine the release order of singles by the then-struggling band, Maroon 5, among many other successes.

In 2005, Harvard Business School published a case study on the company’s challenge of introducing technology-based solutions within an industry that had long relied on golden ears and gut instinct alone to make million-dollar decisions. The case was called Polyphonic HMI – Mixing Music & Math. It remains one of the most popular case studies taught in business school marketing classes all over the world, including at Wharton, IESE, Kellogg, UCLA, Columbia, NYU’s Stern School of Business, The London School of Economics, INSEAD, and many others.

In early 2012, IESE, a sister school of Harvard Business School and the highest ranked business school in the world outside the United States published a follow-on case study called “Mike McCready and Music Xray: Business Model Innovation in the Music Industry“.

This case study has been taught at IESE and around the world at top business schools.

The reason Music Xray is worthy of this most recent study is that the company has taken a non-intuitive business model and made it part of the formula that makes the business effective. That is, by asking musicians to pay a few dollars to make a submission to the industry’s decision-makers, the artist is put in the position of having to filter themselves. They therefore submit only their best material to opportunities they feel they have a reasonable chance of securing. This system reduces the listening load on the industry professionals and also raises the quality of music professionals consistently hear on Music Xray.

That, combined with other tricks and technology-based tools that help professionals separate the wheat from the chaff make Music Xray the very best set of song and talent discovery for industry professionals that has ever been developed. In fact, Music Xray has practically a 0% attrition rate among industry pros. Once they begin using the platform, they tend to stay engaged.

Music Xray strives to be the very best in the field of first discovery for the music industry. That means a continuous dedication to excellence and to results that are far and away indispensable for the professionals in the industry who make their living by selected the best music and talent for their markets. It also makes the company a source of innovation that drives what’s being taught in the world’s top business classrooms.

Should musicians pay to submit music to the industry? That may be the wrong question.

Posted by Mike McCready | November 14th, 2012 | 8 Responses

It’s ironic we receive this question because Music Xray has created something musicians have been requesting forever, a level playing field, but that isn’t always immediately apparent. As soon as it becomes apparent, the real question follows.

The real question: Should musicians pay for the convenience of playing on a level field?

The answer to that question is probably “yes”, but it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. You can probably do for free what we charge you for. People have been doing it successfully the hard way for a long time. Just like you can get most places by walking. Why spend money on a car or an airline ticket? Because doing so saves you time and money. It’s the same with Music Xray.

How? You can spend all your time on LinkedIn networking with industry professionals, finding out where the opportunities are, finagling your way in, cashing in favors to get people to listen to your tracks, being the person following up, hoping you don’t become a nuisance, following up again and then maybe getting an answer. While you do that you have to feed yourself and pay rent. It can be time-consuming and cumbersome. What’s more, it doesn’t really increase your odds of getting a deal because the industry professional with whom you’re in touch won’t do a deal with you if they find music or talent elsewhere that fits better with their opportunity.

That’s where Music Xray comes in. We’ve harnessed new technologies and the Internet to build a set of tools that the industry is increasingly adopting to help identify high potential songs and talent. In our model, artists pay a small fee to make a submission. In exchange for that small fee, you essentially jump to the front of the line. Your song is heard by the industry professional on the other end and you receive a response within a limited timeframe. If the response is that your song or band has been selected, a relationship begins and Music Xray steps away. We do not take a cut of any deal that results from that introduction. If the response is that your song or band is placed on hold or rejected, you learn that too. After a few submissions, we even tell you how the professionals are rating your track in private, which may not be what they tell you to your face. That’s information you probably can’t get anywhere else at any price.

There’s nothing else to it.

It is what it seems.

Music Xray saves you time and money by finding the opportunities and ensuring the decision-makers behind the opportunities are available to anyone.

How can we do that when no one else can? We make the best tools that have ever been built for helping industry professionals manage their submissions, attract the type and quality of submissions they seek, identify high-potential tracks, leverage the ears of 1400 other industry professionals and much more. We make Music Xray a tool they can’t live without.

Isn’t paying to submit kind of like buying a lottery ticket?

A lottery is a game of chance in which winners are randomly drawn from a hat. A decision to license a song or sign a band is based on the music, the talent, the market appeal, and skill. Your submission is always going to have to compete against other songs and bands under consideration. The existence of Music Xray doesn’t alter that one way or another. Music Xray is simply able to guarantee that you and your music are among those that do receive consideration.

Click here if you’ve ever wondered how many submissions industry professionals receive.

How do you know Music Xray is real and not too good to be true?

We’re asked that a lot too.

But keep in mind that we’re not promising success to anyone. We only promise to get you into the conversation. We ensure that you and your music are considered. After that, it’s up to what you bring to the table.

Music Xray is backed by serious investors who only invest in real companies. Music Xray leads the industry in providing tools for song and talent discovery for professionals and backs it up with recent achievements and a number of industry endorsements.

Additionally, Harvard Business School did a case study on our founders’ previous company when they first began introducing technolog-based solutions to talent discovery for the industry. It was called Polyphonic HMI: Mixing music and math. IESE is a sister school of Harvard and this case study is a follow-on to the original case study. Both are currently taught at top business schools around the world like Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, UCLA, IESE, Columbia, and London School of Economics.