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Asking “Is my song good?” and Confirmation Bias

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Asking “Is my song good?” and Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias – the tendency for people to look for what confirms their beliefs and ignore what contradicts their beliefs – may be getting in the way of finding the real answer to the question “is my song good?“. This goes well beyond the positive thinking trap you might find yourself in when asking friends and family for feedback on your music. It’s a tested psychological concept that can trick you into thinking your perception of your own songs is representative of what others hear. Confirmation Bias & Art An article in the Scientific American asks what happens when you look at confirmation bias and its effects on our view of art, including music: Its ubiquity is observed in both academia and our everyday lives: Republicans watch Fox while Democrats watch MSNBC; creationists see fossils as evidence of God, evolutionary biologists see fossils as evidence of evolution. Simply put, our ideologies and personal dogmas dictate our realities…it strikes me as ironic to think that it is almost exclusively discussed as a hindrance to knowledge and better decision-making. With such a broad definition, I think it also explains our aesthetic judgments. Of course confirmation bias comes into play heavily in the art world; it’s such a subjective concept in the first place. There is no “good” or “bad” music, there’s just music. Is my song good? Hell yes! Also, hell no! The problem arises when you don’t even realize that as you seek feedback, you subconsciously gravitate towards information that supports your desire for positive encouragement. Going another level deeper, neuroscientists believe that instinctual feelings race to the top of our minds faster than rational thought. In other words, even when faced with black-and-white facts many people continue on with their biased thinking. Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It’s a “basic human survival skill,” explains political scientists Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself. So where does that leave a musician looking to improve his craft? Is my song good…to you? Let’s bring this back to what we know best here at Audiokite – unbiased consumer feedback on your music. Here’s how you can beat confirmation bias before it even happens. 1. Burst the bubble of biased feedback by asking people outside your support system and social circle what they think about your tracks. Whether that’s through Audiokite, on Twitter, or at live shows, focus on music fans who are most likely to be honest. 2. Avoid participating in narrowcasting by expanding your feedback audience. If you play particularly well with college...


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Get Music Feedback From Twitter Like Brian Hazard

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Get Music Feedback From Twitter Like Brian Hazard

By Dave Marcello, Head of Artist Growth Though I’d reaaaallllly like to say we’re the only way to obtain music feedback from consumers, that’s not necessarily the truth. Brian Hazard, he of the ten-album Color Theory and head mastering engineer at Resonance Mastering, put this belief into play just this week when he took to Twitter to solicit some lyrical recommendations from his followers. "The Timekeeper" possibly final lyrics, in two images. Does it make sense? What throws you off? #songwriting pic.twitter.com/NSwNTgQLBv — Brian Hazard (@colortheory) August 29, 2016 The Rationale My first thought was, “Brian, you are out of your mind.” Twitter is becoming more and more known for trolling, not for something like music feedback. But he understands the participatory nature of the platform and he has a very engaged follower base there. “Lately I’m making an effort to include my fans in the creation process, so I shared my lyrics on Twitter in the form of two images (bypassing the 140 character limit). To my surprise, I received several helpful pointers and zero snarky comments.”   @colortheory I like – and better understand – the one on the right. — Karen Lee Gamble (@KarenLeeGamble) August 29, 2016 @colortheory it sounded odd and out of context with the rest of the lyrics. For me x — Newt (@Newt_Cromo) August 29, 2016 Music Feedback is Everywhere Turns out music consumers are pretty open to being welcomed into the creative process, especially superfans, and some have ideas worth considering. “[My followers’] feedback, including a two-word substitution that I accepted outright, had a huge impact on the final product.” I've taken (some of) your advice and rewritten "The Timekeeper" lyrics, mainly the first verse. Better? #songwriting pic.twitter.com/t2kmYYukYe — Brian Hazard (@colortheory) August 29, 2016   Will your fans help you write the next hit song? Who knows – it’s a possibility. Regardless of the end result, we salute Brian for taking a chance to get his fans involved with not only music feedback, but music creation from the ground up.   @colortheory Its my pleasure to be helpful.Thank you for saying Thanks, it means a lot to me. — Ahda (@Ahdahann) August 30, 2016...


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Finding Your Voice: A Conversation With Artist & Businessman Jonathan Singletary

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Finding Your Voice: A Conversation With Artist & Businessman Jonathan Singletary

By Dave Marcello, Head of Artist Growth As a singer, songwriter, classically-trained pianist, and Silicon Valley tech veteran, Jonathan Singletary has a lot to share with DIY musicians and music business professionals alike. Our team often meets up with Jonathan for coffee to talk music biz, and this time we decided to make our chat a bit more official with a blog post. I think you’ll find some inspiring and insightful words from Jonathan below, particularly regarding how to find a unique niche and connect with your superfans. There are infinite parallels between startups and indie musicians, none more clear than the need to identify and engage your most hardcore followers before even attempting to attract the general masses. The truth is that if you want to make a great product (read: song), you can’t think about making it great for everyone. You have to make it great for someone. Not every person, but some people. Scroll on down for more…   1) Tell us a bit about yourself, as an artist and music business guy. I grew up in a family with a persistent musical soundtrack. Saturday morning house cleaning featured Michael Jackson, Isley Brothers and Whitney Houston, my parents worked out to the soulful DeBarge “In A Special Way”, and on Sundays, gospel music emanated from my Dad’s oversized speakers. Music was as much a part of the world I was born into as breathing itself. I started playing piano and singing at age 4, and was trained classically until 11. At that point I began writing and composing original music, but academics were always my focus, hence my late start in seriously pursuing music. After exploring the offerings of “a real job,” including Google, and Shazam, I’ve spent the last era of my career working more directly with artists and pursuing a career as an artist myself. As an independent consultant I’ve executed social and digital marketing campaigns for indie to label-signed and grammy nominated performing artists. I worked with a partner to successfully raise funds for an artist’s album via Kickstarter and launched a number of digital-to-live campaigns as well. As an artist, I’ve released a solo EP, and had the opportunity to perform in Atlanta, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles in the first 9 months of my career. As an artist I am just getting started, but I have learned a ton thus far and my work on the business side of things has given me valuable perspective on the journey. 2) What are your biggest challenges as an artist and music business professional? By far my biggest challenge within music and business has been finding my unique...


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Study: Music Tastes of Trump and Clinton Voters

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Study: Music Tastes of Trump and Clinton Voters

By Dave Marcello, Head of Artist Growth Like most of the country, political intrigue has infiltrated the Audiokite office as of late, and we can’t help but view the world through the lens of the music industry. While we generally don’t do political polling, this election cycle is just too interesting not to explore. So last week, we did a poll of 1,308 likely U.S. voters (we actually polled 1,700 and excluded 392 who indicated they were not planning to vote) and cross-referenced the results with our existing music preference data about those voters. The results are revealing, to say the least. What began as an office curiosity turned out to be one of the more interesting demographic studies on the election we’ve seen yet. While some of the genre associations and favorite artists make sense, we also discovered some surprising trends about which type of voter was more likely to negatively react to new music. Take a look at our findings in the infographic below. Looking for more? Check out our music advice to both campaigns in this Forbes article.  ...


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Bookmark This: The Best Music Stock Photo Sites

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Bookmark This: The Best Music Stock Photo Sites

by Dave Marcello, Head of Artist Growth “Free” may not be the ideal situation for music, but not all artistic endeavors follow that path. Under the Creative Commons movement, many photographers and visual artists offer their images free for public – and often times commercial – use through terms of their own choosing. In honor of our partnership with Bandzoogle, the easy and sleek website builder for musicians, we’ve listed some of the absolute best sites that provide free music-themed imagery. Now you can go ahead and spruce up that website or bedazzle your latest promo posters with the coolest pics on the nets. Image hack #1: Find an image you dig but you want to know who else might be using it? Simply upload it to Google Reverse Image Search and scope the results. Image hack #2: Ok, fine, this isn’t really a hack but it is useful. For those of you who don’t have much time to spend adding filters and effects to your photos, give Canva a try. It’s basically a drag-and-drop Photoshop for dummies. Unsplash The 411: My go-to source of high-res, cool-looking imagery for a few years now, it never disappoints. Downside is that its popularity means I’ve started seeing the same images on multiple sites. Music Pics: https://unsplash.com/search?keyword=music&button=  License Info: https://unsplash.com/license   Stock Snap The 411: Nearly 175 photos make this one of the deepest catalogs we’ve seen. Music Pics: https://stocksnap.io/search/music/sort/relevance/desc License Info: https://stocksnap.io/license   Free Stocks The 411: Small but quality library with some images I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Music Pics: http://freestocks.org/?s=music&cat=0 License Info: http://freestocks.org/terms-of-use/   PicJumbo The 411: Very small library, for some reason most images involve white headphones. Music Pics: https://picjumbo.com/?s=music  License Info: https://picjumbo.com/photo-redistribution/   Little Visuals The 411: Small library but super sleek images. Music Pics: http://littlevisuals.co/search/music  License Info: “Use them anyway you want.”   Gratisography The 411: Decent sized library but no search option meaning lots of scrolling and loading. Music Pics: http://www.gratisography.com/  License Info: http://www.gratisography.com/terms.html   Getrefe The 411: Very small library (like 6 total pics small) and even for the free images you need to sign up with a new account and “check out” to download them. Music Pics: http://getrefe.com/?s=music&post_type=download  License Info: http://getrefe.com/license/   IM Free The 411: Another pretty small library, but a few gems mixed in there. Music Pics: HERE (URL is too damn long to post)  License Info: “Free for commercial use, attribution to the creator is required.” (this pic is by Joi!–>)   ISO Republic The 411: Only 3 useful images, but they are pretty slick. Music Pics: http://isorepublic.com/?s=music  License Info: http://isorepublic.com/terms/   Negative Space The 411: Very small library with mostly outdoor performer images. Music Pics: http://negativespace.co/?post_type=product&s=music  License Info: http://negativespace.co/license/  ...


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Music Feedback: How We Improved Survey Strategy

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Music Feedback: How We Improved Survey Strategy

Pretend for a minute that you’re a chef and restaurant owner who is experimenting with a new menu (I swear this has plenty to do with music feedback!). You just spent the last four months in Chile learning the ins and outs of South American cuisine – your specialty – and you’re excited to showcase these new skills to your loyal patrons, though a wee bit nervous as to what their reactions will be. So, to test the waters you hold a private tasting event, a sort of culinary focus group. The joint is packed, you have comment cards and sharpened pencils at every seat, and your dishes are being served nice and hot. At the end of the night, you and the kitchen staff sit down to review the cards with the goal of using that customer feedback to fine-tune the menu. You pop open the first card and read aloud what is written: “The food was good.” Okay, thanks for that, guy. Move on to the next one: “I didn’t like it.” Um, alright. The next: “I had to park across the street…the walk to the restaurant sucked.” What the…? You asked for feedback and you got it. But not all feedback is created equal. At worst, it can include misguided sentiment that completely misses the goal of the original question. Slightly better, yet still problematic, is when it’s just a bunch of garbled up information. No direction. No clarity. No path to improvement. Music feedback, in particular, is subject to this good/bad paradigm that plagues the industry. To set the stage for useful music insights, you first have to ask the right questions. As a music creator, your inquiry should be less “is my song good?” and more “why is my song good?” And that’s exactly where we started when redesigning and adding brand new Audiokite reports. Here’s a look behind the scenes at our strategy and approach to better music feedback. From Information to Insights After recording over 400,000 music feedback surveys, analyzing millions of data points, and fielding questions and suggestions from hundreds of our most loyal customers, we set out to improve Audiokite’s services with one goal in mind: move further away from information and closer to insights. Are we asking the right questions in our consumer sentiment surveys? Is the existing survey too general? Could we be collecting more pertinent information from our tens of thousands of reviewers? Are the reports structured in a way that makes them easy to read? And, most important, are we doing all we can to empower music creators to make better-informed decisions with their careers? While we’re certainly...


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Case Study: Dotted Music Marketing Agency

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Case Study: Dotted Music Marketing Agency

By Dave Marcello, Head of Artist Growth Dotted Music, an international music marketing agency and growth training platform, relies on Audiokite consumer research reports to regularly evaluate clients and to better inform their fan acquisition efforts. Andrew Apanov, Dotted’s CEO, dropped by to share some of his insights and tips on how to use music feedback research to advance your career.   Simple & Effective “Market research with Audiokite is so simple and so effective that making it an essential part of our agency’s toolbox has been a no-brainer.” As an all-encompassing music marketing agency, Dotted Music’s first move with any new artist client is to unpack the product – their songs. This is when Audiokite is first employed by Andrew’s team. From there, the focus is on using this music feedback data to identify areas of improvement they can work on together. Once the product is polished, the Dotted Music crew looks at Audiokite reports to determine commercial potential, which singles should be released first, and how best to market each artist overall.   Knowing When The Time Is Right “Running those reports was one of the most powerful and sobering moments of his career.” Answering this question by relying on unbiased insights from actual music consumers helps Andrew and his clients get on the same page and move closer to releasing the best music possible. One particular client assumed his songs were ready to market, which means putting money, time, and staff resources behind the effort. He came to Dotted Music with plans of immediate album production and expensive marketing campaigns. After running a few reports, the artist learned his voice was not as strong as he had assumed, so the team collectively decided to hold off on marketing plans for the time being. Instead, they gave him intensive vocal coaching and put him on the right track to a successful performance.   Making Better Decisions When you spend most of your time on your craft, it’s not easy to step back and evaluate progress objectively. One of Dotted Music’s clients, a charismatic guitarist, received surprisingly below-average ratings on a few of his Audiokite research reports. The crew got together and reviewed the data to find out why, and this is when they noticed that the mastering quality of his tracks did not match what the listeners expected. This was the push he needed; a professional engineer was called in the next day and they began working together immediately.   An Insider’s Tip When we asked Andrew to share the single most useful tip he’d recommend to Audiokite customers, he brought up the importance of having a benchmark: “Audiokite reports are particularly useful when...


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3 Steps to Find New Music Insights Through Business Intelligence

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3 Steps to Find New Music Insights Through Business Intelligence

By Dave Marcello, Head of Artist Growth [this post was originally published on SonicBids blog] Quick thought exercise – what first comes to mind when you hear “big data and music”? Let me take a guess: song recommendation algorithms, per-stream-royalty-rates, maybe even the number of SoundCloud plays your last upload received. Chances are “business intelligence” didn’t leap out at you, not by a long shot, even though it has the potential to drastically impact the trajectory of your music creating endeavors. Music and technology are ongoing bedfellows, from instrument and gear innovations to the evolution of easily accessible recording and collaboration software. As a DIY musician, you’re probably doing some level of data gathering for your business already. You might capture fan emails, monitor how your songs perform differently with males and females on Spotify, or check your Facebook page for which posts get the most likes. But is any of this information actually helping you to advance your career? Are you able to turn that raw information into real music insights? Here’s a quick primer on how the basics of business intelligence can help you being to make more informed decisions.   Business Intelligence Defined   Business intelligence can be defined as “techniques and tools employed to analyze data in order to uncover actionable information.” Assuming you don’t have your own in-house team of data scientists just itching to plot new correlation graphs, you’ll have to take a true DIY approach, like independent artist and entrepreneur Charlie Mars did. “As the industry crumbled, people like me had to figure out how to move forward. I knew, at that point, no one would do it for me, there was no shoulder to cry on. Either I would have to do it myself or be a tumbleweed on the music-industry highway.” To wrap your head around business intelligence for musicians, first break it down into three conceptual pieces.   1) Techniques and tools…   Here’s the good news: many online music hosting and fan engagement services have some sort of built-in analytics element. You can collect follower information from Facebook and Twitter with a little digging. Pandora recently unveiled its Artist Marketing Platform, Spotify has Fan Insights, and SoundCloud offers deeper views into who is playing your music and from where with its Pro membership. Then there’s website traffic exploration tools like Google Analytics, email marketing measurement like Mailchimp, and sales tracking via your preferred distribution vendor. Spend some time getting to know how to use these analytics tools and putting that knowledge into practice. Gathering as much information as possible is the right first step in setting up an effective...


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Finding Music Insights In Your Research Reports

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Finding Music Insights In Your Research Reports

By Dave Marcello, Head of Artist Growth   Now that you’ve jumped into the music feedback world by asking our listeners to review your song, the biggest question on your mind is probably, “Now what?” We analyzed your report and sent you the results, but what does all that information actually mean for your career as a music creator? In this post, I’m going to walk you through each section of a General Report, explaining how each piece of data can help you make it in the music industry.   Report Header I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you understand what’s going on in the report header. We’re starting off strong here! Insider Tip: In the name of validating assumptions, check out the Commercial Potential Report, in which our reviewers tell you what genre in which they believe your song belongs.   Insights Summary An at-a-glance highlight of your complete research results, this is what you read if you only have two minutes to spend. Insider Tip: When you have more than one report, analyzing the summaries for each one is the easiest way to quickly compare and contrast.   Listener Responses One of the first things most people notice in the report view are the Listener Responses vertically lining the right side of the screen. For our General Reports, the open-ended question we ask listeners is “What did you like or dislike about this song?” Responses are optional because we view this as yet another important data point; if very few listeners choose to leave a response, they were not moved to do so by your song. When they do answer this question, we include all responses along with the age and gender of the respondent. Each response expands when you click on it to unveil how that listener answered all other questions in this survey. Insider Tip: Want to ask a custom question? Audiokite Pro members have the ability to replace our standard question with one of their own choosing.   General Rating Listeners were asked to rate your song on a scale of 1-10, 1 indicating very low enjoyment and 10 indicating serious love. This section of the report shows your average rating compared to thousands of other Audiokite reviewed songs, along with how many listeners picked each rating point. Check out the “Percentile” measurement to determine where your song stands amongst your peers. The General Rating is a great indicator of progress over time, particularly if you make adjustments to your recording and resubmit the same song multiple times, or upload several songs at the same time. Insider Tip: Your General Rating can unlock free and discounted...


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