As a former struggling musician who saved up every time I had to buy guitar strings, I get that the term “starving artist” didn’t coin itself. So, that begs the question; why would I start a business that requires artists to pay for yet one more thing?
The truth is, we tried making the service completely free and figured we’d find one way or another to keep the lights on like so many web based businesses. But early on, we realized it wasn’t working. The industry professionals were overwhelmed, couldn’t keep up with their submissions and stopped logging in. Without the professionals on the site taking submissions all we had was another artist-facing website that couldn’t fulfill its promises.
I’d rather eat poo than be the operator of one of those sites!
We soon figured out that charging a small fee ($4) tended to keep the riff raff out. Those who were unwilling to invest a little bit of change in getting their music heard by industry decision-makers also seemed to be the ones jamming up the system for everyone else. Suddenly, the industry professionals were engaged again. Yes, they were getting fewer submissions but the quality of the submissions was higher. We then enabled the industry professionals to increase or decrease the fee as needed to regulate the inflow of submissions. If they were receiving too many songs, they could increase the fee to slow things down.
The fees are usually pretty reasonable. Not unlike the amount you’d spend sending a CD and presentation kit through the mail in the old days (and never hearing back or even knowing that it arrived). On Music Xray, in exchange for your coin you are guaranteed that the professional listens and provides feedback. Even in the case of rejection you are told why.
Our job here at Music Xray is to keep the industry professionals engaged and interested so that the doors of opportunity remain open and the business is more about how good you are and less about who you know. Charities
The fees collected on Music Xray keep our lights on and perhaps enable some of the professionals to afford an extra drink or two (and who wouldn’t buy someone a drink in exchange for some professional attention to their music?). None of the professionals sees Music Xray submission fees as a primary source of income. It’s extra pocket change at best and many of them funnel the money to various charities we have on the site like Save The Children Fund, Musicares, Songs of Love and others. I bet you didn’t know that.
This isn’t new. We’ve been enabling industry professionals to divert their money to charity for over a year. Honestly, not all of them send their money to charities. In fact, a lot don’t but we’re seeing increasing numbers of them do it. At some point we may display a badge on the profile pages of those that send their fees to charity. For now, we just quietly suggest it as an option and it seems to be working.
I just thought this was all worth explaining.
If you have an account of any type on Music Xray, you have an affiliate code. Log in, go to your account settings and you will see your affiliate code on the right side of the page.
If you add your affiliate code to the end of any Music Xray URL, anyone who clicks on it will be tracked as having reached Music Xray through you. Even if they leave the site without signing up and then come back a month later, they will still be tagged as someone you referred. You get paid 15% of our margin for every transaction the person you referred conducts on Music Xray – FOREVER. Not just the first transaction but rather every transaction for as long as they have an account on the site.
Your earnings are reflected in your account balance which you’ll see on your dashboard when logged in.
If you don’t want to bother customizing an email and tacking your affiliate ID on the end of URLs, you can just click one of the buttons within your account to invite artists, fans or industry professionals and an email is automatically sent to them with your affiliate ID already included. BUT, if you want to do it, it works like this (see below for ideas on how to most effectively use affiliate ID’s):
Grab any URL from the site that you think someone might be interested in. For example, let’s say you know someone who might have a perfect song for Trace Adkins. At the time of this writing, Torrez Music Group is conducting a search for such a song and the drop box is found at this URL: http://www.musicxray.com/profiles/626. HOWEVER, if you want to get credit for sending someone to that URL, you should tack your affiliate code onto the end of it and instead send them a URL that looks like this:
Be sure to use your own affiliate code and not mine or I’ll get the credit instead of you. Also, notice that between the end of the URL and your affiliate code you have to put “?afid=”. That’s just telling our system that the numbers that follow are the affiliate code and not something else. You can see how that’s explained on your settings page and in the image above.
Also, note that you do not have to send people long ugly URLs. You can simply embed that long URL into a link like in the following example:
Hey Bill, I saw that Trace Adkins is seeking music and I thought you might want to send him one of your songs. Click here.
You will notice that the link I embedded in the words “click here” includes my affiliate code.
Here are some other ideas for how you can make this work for you.
If you’d just like to get people started on Music Xray you can simply send them to the special offer page located here: http://www.musicxray.com/new-artist-account (just be sure to tack your affiliate code on the end of that URL and you’re good to go. You’ll notice that we have a no-brainer deal for anyone considering starting with Music Xray. All new accounts get:
Feel free to start your own weekly (monthly, daily, whatever) music opportunity newsletter and send it to musicians you know, post to your MySpace or Facebook accounts and whatnot.
If you have a site with decent traffic and you’d like us to curate a special rss feed of opportunities with your affiliate link already embedded, we can do so. Just contact us at email@example.com and we’ll get you started.
If you have more than 500 contacts you’d like to tell about Music Xray, we can create a special and very professional email for you with a selection of some of the most attractive opportunities together with a special offer for those just creating new accounts now. That email might look something like this (but it would have your affiliate code embedded into all the links).
Get started using your affiliate codes now!
Music Xray has given everyone the ability to conduct a free focus group on your music. We pay 25 randomly selected music fans to listen to your song and provide some feedback.
You can also interact with other Music Xray users to exchange information and experiences to help you use Music Xray to its full potential.
Visit our Facebook page click the “Like” button once you’re there..
Just log in to your artist account and click the button that invites fans. Enter the email address (or import the addresses) of those you’d like to invite and click the button.
In the 90 days from February 1st to April 30th over 1550 songs and acts were signed or placed via Music Xray. And we’re just getting started!
The truth about the current music business is that there are more opportunities at the fingertips of independent artists/musicians than there has ever been in the past. Companies like Music Xray are making it easier for music industry professionals and their companies to tap into the talent pool of independent acts without becoming overwhelmed. Still, it can feel to an artist like they’re roaming around in the dark, unsure if they will find a deal and unsure of how to get it done.
While there is no one formulaic way to success, we’re starting to see an increasing number of success stories emerge on Music Xray and I’d like to share the stories of two artists and how they each got it done differently.
Mary Sarah is a talented teenager from Texas. She began submitting on Music Xray about 7 months ago. She submitted to some of the top producers who were offering detailed feedback, song critiques and career coaching. Each of these people were impressed with what they heard. Some of them passed the music on to people they knew. All of them wrote stellar critiques and as always, the industry professionals on the site rated the music for Music Xray’s back-end statistics (keep reading. You’ll see why that’s important).
Then, once she knew that the music she had recorded was standing up to tough scrutiny, she began submitting her songs to all sorts of opportunities: label deals, management deals, sync license deals, exposure opportunities on blogs and more.
Finally, she was spotted by Nan Cassidy on Music Xray, an artist developer based in Nashville together with Sharon Dennis of Dennis Management. When they heard Mary Sarah they knew there was something there. Right on Music Xray, they were able to see Mary Sarah’s stats via statistics from Next Big Sound. They could see that Mary Sarah’s Twitter, Myspace and Facebook followings were growing. Lastly, they were able to look at Music Xray’s back end statistics and that’s when they knew.
One of Mary Sarah’s songs had been submitted to industry professionals on the site 38 times and it had received an average of a 4 star (out of five) rating on every measured attribute (composition, arrangement, performance, production & hit potential).
That is the power of collective A&R!! Thirty-eight industry professionals had heard and LOVED Mary Sarah’s music but none of them had opted to (or been able to) offer her a deal. But they had taken the time to listen and rate her music because Music Xray had made that possible and due to that, Nan and Sharon were able to feel even more confident that their instincts were spot on. Nan and Sharon signed Mary Sarah to a management deal and now she’s on her way in Nashville. Subsequently, Maray Sarah won a $50,000 promotional marketing campaign from Musicati based on yet another submission.
Grand$un is a hip hop artist from the New York area who has written and produced a couple yet-to-be hit songs. They are really good. He doesn’t have a big budget to invest so he watches Music Xray’s opportunities closely and instead of taking the shotgun approach that Mary Sarah did, he sits back and makes sure each opportunity is as close a match as possible for his songs. He submits only when he reads of an appropriate opportunity or if his songs are matched to an opportunity via Music Xray’s song to opportunity matching system (S2O).
He has secured a few opportunities but nothing that blew the doors off the hinges for him. But then, it happened and he was signed to a one-album deal at Orpheus/Fontana (Universal). You just never know when it’s going to happen. Grand$sun added, “I couldn’t have done it without Music Xray”.
In both cases, both artists were given a lot of validation by professionals on the site who told them they had what it takes to make it. That’s why, if you’re not getting deals on Music Xray, you should be getting as much professional feedback as possible. It could lead directly to a deal but at the very least you will learn how close to a deal you are, your song will accumulate data within Music Xray’s statistics back end that other professionals can see (as in the case of Mary Sarah) and you will learn what you need to do to make it happen.
Music Xray is where thousands of music industry professionals conduct A&R in complete transparency.
We had some extra marketing money this week so we just thought we’d give it directly to you. So, for a limited time, when you open an artist account on Music Xray, this is what you get:
Starting RIGHT THIS INSTANT at Music Xray, everyone gets a free focus group to get real fan feedback on their music.
1. Log in to your artist account.
2. Navigate to “Focus Groups” and then to “start new focus group”.
3. Choose the song you want to test in your focus group.
4. Check the box at the bottom of the page that says, “Free focus group of 25 participants”.
5. Click the PayPal button. YOU WON’T BE CHARGED.
Check in on the results each day to see them arrive (you will get an email once the all results are in).
If you don’t yet have an account, just click the sign-up button to the left to get started for free. Keep all your rights. Keep all your revenue on deals you get. No strings! No catches!
Download the full Musicians’ User Guide here