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Who Should You Ask to Critique Your Songs?

Posted by Mike McCready | August 24th, 2009 | No responses

Once you’ve decided that getting some expert feedback on your song is a good idea you then need to decide who is the right person to ask and how to access them.

As a rule of thumb, you should try to seek out the services of someone who has been successful in the market with similar music to your own. I would suggest going with a songwriter or a producer. My next choice would be an accomplished A&R person. These are the three kinds of people who have been successful because they write, record or find the best songs. So, they certainly know one when they hear one or are in the business of polishing good songs to make them great.

I find that crowd sourcing (playing the music for a focus group of music fans) and asking your non-songwriting friends and family is not the best idea. Fans tend to hear good production and can imagine hearing your song on the radio but they aren’t objective when it comes to whether or not the song is compelling. Friends and family are invested (at least emotionally) in you and they cannot be objective.

Furthermore, keep in mind that songs catch fire in the market by a lot of people hearing the song in situations when they aren’t actively listening (while shopping, driving, during ads, in the background at restaurants etc). You can’t easily re-create those situations but professionals who have been successful time and time again really know what a hit song is all about. Of course, my company is in the business of enabling artists to interact directly with music industry professionals so I’d be remiss not to point you here for some of the best in the business.

Why You Should Have Your Songs Professionally Critiqued

Posted by Mike McCready | August 19th, 2009 | No responses

When seeking commercial success, the best, most experienced songwriters have their songs critiqued by their peers and others in their networks they respect and trust. They know they are too close to their work to be objective about it. What’s more, when you pour long hours and hard work into anything you are less willing to admit to its flaws than you should be. You become emotionally invested in the song and have certainly lost the ability to judge the impression it will make on a listener the first time they hear it. Melodies start sounding too familiar and love for your own creation begins to become unconditional.

It takes a certain level of wisdom and sophistication on the part of the artist to seek out critiques. It’s hard to hear you need to go back to the drawing board, or that your song isn’t all you thought it was. It’s even harder if you’ve already poured a lot of money and other resources into getting a good production done only to be told you’ll likely have to do it again. This is all part of paying your dues. It also leads to learning that you might want to start getting feedback earlier in the process, i.e. before you have a song produced and mastered. Are your lyrics compelling? Is the hook catchy? Is it too repetitive? Should the cowbell start in the second verse or should you just bring it in for the bridge? Is the structure right? How could it be improved? These are the things you’ll learn.

You should get multiple opinions.

Another compelling reason to have your song professionally critiqued is that by doing so, you are likely engaging someone who has been successful in the music industry. Perhaps even someone who could know where your song should be placed or someone who has an opportunity for your song. Often times, engaging someone’s professional song critiquing services can lead to developing a broader relationship, songwriting partnerships and professional opportunities.

Should You Spend More Time Creating Music Or Promoting Yourself?

Posted by Mike McCready | August 8th, 2009 | No responses

I get this question from time to time from bands and musicians who are seeking their big break.

The world of social media is so new and is changing so quickly that it’s hard to give an answer and it’s even harder to know if any answer will hold true tomorrow. At any rate, I had an email exchange this morning with a very talented artist who asked this question.

I told him that being an artist is hard enough without having to be the best self-promoter. In an ideal world, you would have a manager who is good at leveraging social media. But, since many artists have to do this on their own, I’d advise to do it in spurts. When you’re in creative mode you need to keep the network you’ve built active, but you should allow yourself to disconnect from making it grow while you work artistically. Then, when you have good material and you’re ready to push again, spend your time networking, promoting and growing your fan base.

In the end, you’ll attract fans because you have great music. That’s your goose that lays the golden eggs so don’t ever neglect that. Your ultimate goal is to leverage your social media efforts. You have to push really hard to get your fan base to a level where your fans are evangelizing your music and spreading it around, so your fan base grows when you’re not pushing it personally. It’s like a rocket. It takes 90% of the fuel to get it out of the pull of earth’s gravity, but then it can go to the moon and back on the 10% of the fuel it has left. If your music has what it takes you’ll get there sooner rather than later. Extremely compelling media (and that includes songs) will spread virally. Keep lighting matches and sooner or later one will light the forest on fire.

The Future of Music Promotion

Posted by Mike McCready | November 23rd, 2008 | No responses

Less Push and More Pull

Does the future of music promotion really involve promotion? At Music Xray, we believe promotion (push) is going to take a back seat to powerful music discovery and filtering solutions (pull).

Music Experience Interfaces (MEIs) will be game changing.

We are positive that new music experience interfaces (MEIs) are going to change the way music industry professionals locate artists/songs, and MEIs will change the way consumers discover and interact with music.

Radical MEIs described – we know this stuff is coming!

Visual – thousands of songs visualized on the screen, color-coded, easy to manipulate, fast as hell. Tactile – reach in and divide a screen filled with ten thousands songs. Auditory – hear overlapping song clips as fast as you move your hand across the screen. Fiction? We doubt it. Music industry professionals will be using these tools in 2009.

2,000,000 songs in two minutes…

Not only do consumers need far better ways to filter the ocean of new and existing music, professionals that work with artists and songs need to be able to slice, dice and filter through millions of songs in minutes to find exactly what they are looking for. This is not a luxury; at 99 cents a track, it’s a necessity for everyone in the industry to be more efficient.

About Music Xray

Music Xray is dedicated to changing the way music is promoted within the music industry. There are millions of songs in existence and almost a million songs a year are being uploaded to the Internet. Music Xray will use music information retrieval science to enable Music Industry Professionals to create dynamic, high-speed music filters where quality metrics, success potential and sounds-alike search criteria are defined by the individual needs of each Music Industry Professional. You could say that Music Xray is the first fully customizable music filter for Music Industry Professionals.

Industry Talks About Music Xray

Posted by Mike McCready | May 21st, 2008 | No responses

More mainstream awareness for Platinum Blue!

On May 9, 2008 Platinum Blue’s Music Xray™ was a central part of the story line on the CBS television series Numb3rs. As we’ve seen before in the NBC series Studio 60: On The Sunset Strip, Platinum Blue makes for good and interesting drama. Music Xray is not always portrayed accurately but that’s part of the dramatization.

In this episode of Numb3rs (called “Pay To Play”), a music label president is paying radio stations to play songs from one of the artists signed to his label in spite of the fact the public isn’t buying while on the other hand he refuses to sign an artist whose Music Xray™ scores are very high. The label owner is even paying the radio stations not to play his songs. It results in murder and intrigue.

Thankfully, in this case fiction is stranger than truth. Click on the video below to see some scenes from the show.

Industry Talks About Music Xray

Posted by Mike McCready | May 30th, 2007 | No responses

A couple of months ago I was interviewed by Peter Day of the BBC about Music Xray. It aired the other day and this is the show. You can stream it by clicking here.

Others interviewed for the segment were Ayappa Biddanda of Vanguard Records, the band Alternate Routes and Mike Smith, President of Columbia Records in London.

In the interview, I plugged a couple of our technology partners but unfortunately that was edited out. That’s unfortunate since a lot of the exciting research in this field is being done not only by us but by our partners and we always like to give credit where credit is due.