The Key to Success is Failure

One of my favorite mantras, which can and should be applied to an indie musician’s music pursuits, is “Fail Faster“. I came across this idea in a book by Robert Kiyosaki, the well-known author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. In his book “Before You Quit Your Job” he explains that starting a business entails doing a lot of things wrong and learning from your mistakes along the way. Given that mistakes are an intrinsic part of the growth process, the faster you make mistakes, the more quickly you will find the correct path to success.

The idea of “failing faster” has direct implications for the indie musician, who is in effect starting a small business:

  • Get used to rejection, and develop a thicker skin
  • Learn which songs move people and which ones fall flat
  • Improve your skills as a musician and performer faster
  • Get quick feedback on how well your marketing efforts are going

To me, the most important promise of “failing faster” is that you will get used to rejection and develop a thicker skin. It’s often said that the most persistent, not the most talented, succeeds. The music industry is proof of this: how many mediocre bands do you see selling music and getting gigs, while you sit in your basement refining your masterpiece tracks, which a total of one person will hear?

It’s hard to be persistent in the face of criticism and indifference, but the better you can adapt to these, the better shot you have. For me personally, I have at times been way too afraid of people’s reactions, and thus avoided performance situations and telling people about my music. The more I accept that there will be poor performances, under-attended gigs, and a lot of rejection, the easier it is to handle. And when it doesn’t hurt so bad, the more energy I will put into finding success.

Some artists seem born this way: I can’t imagine Axl Rose or Shakira, for example, ever feeling less than 100% confident in what they do. Perhaps their strong personalities were what carried them to the limelight. For the rest of it, it’s trial and error, building our resistance to rejection.

Graph of the Week

And finally, I think we all need to take a break from the dollars and cents once in a while and focus on what really matters, which is HAVING FUN. The following may or may not be part of a soon-to-be regular feature of

Graph of the Week

Recent experiments in laboratory conditions indicate that humans are capable of simultaneous interest and uninterest. From the graph we see that, at a zero interest level, the human also experiences zero uninterest, rendering the specimen essentially catatonic. As the interest level increases, so does the potential for greater uninterest.

The Britney Spears Effect

This helps explain the Britney Spears phenomenon: How millions of people can view photos of her without underwear on the internet (a novel viral marketing technique), but fail to be converted to actual Britany music listeners. In fact, statistics show that as interest in Britney increased, interest in her music simultaneously decreased. Marketing theorists are now referring to this as the “Viral Marketing Syndrome”.

Join the Fun

If you would like the scienticians at to represent graphically a real or fictional relationship between real or fictional entities, please contact us at

Guilty Pleasures

In keeping with Friday’s “casual dress policy,” I’m injecting some spontaneity and humor into the mix here. Don’t worry, our cutting and dry editorial style will return on Monday morning.

Goodbye MySpace

I took great joy moments ago in canceling my MySpace account for TheMusicSnob. I wasn’t interested in spending ANY time on their site, and so I wasn’t making any human connections there at all. A total waste of time.

Now I can focus my efforts on composing Twitter haikus about the Olympic games.

You May Already Be Famous in Japan

Have you ever dreamed of achieving super-stardom in Japan? Then go to YouMusic, where foreigners can look at pictures and stare puzzled at Japanese text. Or click on the “English” link to have the site magically transform, and add a profile of your own. I’m curious to see how it’s done on the other side of the world, and will be creating a profile later today. I also want to hear what indie Japanese music sounds like!


What I love about Facebook is that it is actually useful. For connecting with people I actually know.

Given that, I’m not sure how useful adding a TheMusicSnob page to my profile will be, but here it is anyway.

Sidenote: It will be great when Google owns EVERY tech company in the world, that way we’ll only have to upload our videos, photos, blog posts, songs, etc. once.


This weekend I’m leaving the comfort of the quiet Manhattan streets for the big city lights of Philadelphia. Going to see a friend play some live music, hang out, and hopefully gather with some musicians and bang on pots and pans.

If you have any suggestions related to Philly, let’s have them.

Licensing Music with Music Gorilla

Today’s installment of our ongoing look at avenues for licensing music brings us to Music Gorilla. This Austin-based company’s model is to charge an annual fee of $299 and let the artist keep all earnings from any licensing, publishing or other deals that arise.

How it Works

When you sign up and upload your tracks, your music is kept in their database and accessible by music industry reps that have signed up with the company. New relevant song additions are displayed to reps automatically. Music Gorilla also sends out a few opportunities via email each month, where users can respond by submitting specific songs if the project seems appropriate.

Music Gorilla markets its services more as a way to get heard by record labels than a way to have your music licensed. But they do send out regular licensing opportunities, mostly for indie projects.


Music Gorilla also puts on about three showcases a year, where bands can perform for major label reps in Austin and NYC.

Click here for a full list of Music Gorilla services.


  • The site’s co-founders are very accessible and always willing to talk with artists.
  • The graphical design and user interface are not the best, but hopefully this will change soon…

Interview with Co-Founder Alexia Erlichman

We posed some questions for Alexia, one of Music Gorilla’s co-founders, on how to use Music Gorilla to maximize your chances of music licensing success:

Continue reading “Licensing Music with Music Gorilla”

License Music with

One of today’s many web-based licensing options is Song Catalog. Started about eight years ago in Nashville, the company now has offices in the US, Canada and, most recently, Japan. Users upload their tracks into an online database, which is then accessed by clients looking for music and Song Catalog staff that actively facilitate music searches for clients. Song Catalog also sends out additional projects each week, which are exclusive opportunities for Song Catalog members to submit tracks specifically for the latest Film, TV and Commercial placement opportunities

Membership Costs
$199 for ten tracks in their database for one year ($99 annual renewal)
$349 for twenty-five tracks ($99 annual renewal)
$500 for unlimited tracks ($199 annual renewal)
*Note that there are no additional fees for pitching your music for the weekly projects

The Music That’s Selling
Genres that are currently popular for licensing through Song Catalog are electronica, jazz, world, urban, pop, alternative, folk and 60’s and 70’s retro etc..

They only work with music that is broadcast ready. That means no rough demos only completed tracks.

Their Selling Points
Song Catalog prides itself on the personalization of service that they provide artists. A conversation with Brian Richy, VP of Membership Services makes clear that Song Catalog believes in quality of relationships, not quantity:

  • They interact directly with each artist on each deal, and give them the right to approve any licensing opportunity
  • Staff regularly make presentations / pitches to clients on behalf of artists
  • Staff will give feedback to artists and are always reachable by phone to deal with any questions that arise.

Continue reading “License Music with”

Use a Blog to Interact with Your Listeners

My new music has been out for under two weeks, and I’ve had great responses so far. The most rewarding part has been using social networking sites and my music blog to reach out to people I haven’t talked to in a while and let them know what I’ve been up to, and to create some dialogue about my music.

Don’t Assume Your Listeners Have Any Idea What You’ve Been Up To…

As a music creator absorbed with the minutia of my creations, I often make assumptions about what listeners will know or hear as they experience my music for the first time. As if the countless hours I put into the project, song lyrics, thought processes, etc. have somehow been broadcast to each and every person that may ever listen to the results.

So this time around, I’m trying to “lift the veil” so to speak and give people some insight into my creative process; by using a blog, I can write installments addressing different aspects of the music: lyrics, themes, art work, recording process,  musicians, performance videos.

Don’t Waste Time and Money Building Your Own Site from Scratch

I’m finding that standard blog software is so well-developed that it has made it entirely unnecessary to put together my own website. Obviously some design customization is required, but wonderful programs like WordPress, which I use, have so much back-end functionality, which I could never program on my own. Online documentation and user communities are so extensive, that any answers to my development questions are found easily on Google or WordPress’ documentation site.

Continue reading “Use a Blog to Interact with Your Listeners” – An Interview with CEO Barry Coffing

In our ongoing attempt to figure out music licensing and evaluate what services have some real potential, we asked Barry Coffing, CEO of, about his company and the licensing biz.

What is
Based in Los Angeles, CA, runs an online system where those involved in the selection of music for film and TV can quickly access a wide selection of music. Their online platform is clean and simple. Barry emphasizes that it’s for professionals only. Artists interested in submitting their music must have their recordings pass a sound-quality screening first, and they also make sure you understand the business of licensing, too. Quick Stats:

  • 1,700 Labels and Composers have their music in the system with an average of 4 new ones added a day.
  • 3000+ tracks are listened to every month on the site by music supervisors looking for music
  • A full tracking system tells each artist every time a track is listened to, downloaded, licensed and how much money is due, in real time.
  • Over 20% of every project listed licenses at least one track

Here’s what Barry had to say…
Continue reading “ – An Interview with CEO Barry Coffing”

Share the Wealth with Trendsetters – POPCUTS

There was a post yesterday on Techcrunch about a new site for selling your music online. Yay, we’ve all been hoping another would come along, right? Well, this one introduces a different model.

What is It?

Popcuts, as it’s called, shares revenue from each download with both artists AND fans. Fans who spot a hit song first stand to make more money, which in effect rewards music listeners for their taste in up-and-coming hits. The idea is to capitalize on the tendency of hipsters and generally cool people, who love to find trendy music before everyone else and rub it in their faces.

Too Cool for School?

It’s an interesting idea, but I’m wondering if their target demographic is too cool to have their coolness institutionalized and commoditized on a website. Perhaps. And the site’s look doesn’t encourage great trendsetting or stylishness. Some people in the Techcrunch comments section pointed out that it’s similar to a pyramid scheme. Hmmm…..

I posted my music here, and we’ll see how things go. Since it’s a relatively new site, perhaps it will offer more visibility than the older ones already flooded with content.

Empires of Dreams

Do Companies Selling Services to Musicians Target Mediocre Artists? And if so, so what?

The rise in tools for making independent music has created a booming target market for music biz “how-to” gurus, books, websites, etc. Including this blog. But the abundance of people that will never achieve “mainstream” popularity as musicians (some music biz people I’ve talked to refer to them as “delusionals”), are creating what another calls “Empires of Dreams,” or very profitable companies that target these hopeless individuals, despite the implicit knowledge that very few of them will ever actually have much success.

To sum up my concern: companies market their goods and services in such a way that appeals to not only those reasonably talented, but especially to those who are entirely delusional. Is it possible that some companies are in fact targeting the “delusionals” specifically, instead of those with higher probability of success? My suspicions arose through my own experiences as a musician, AND by the thought that it doesn’t really matter to these businesses whether you succeed, but only that you perceive a service or good as being able to help you to succeed.

Buy at Your Own Risk

That said, I believe in a free economy where consumers are allowed to buy most of the things they could want, including drugs and other “harmful” stuff. I guess the distinction lies in whether a company markets its goods or services with the knowledge that it is “faulty,” or basically not going to help you out at all. Drug dealers don’t tell customers that drugs are good for them…

Real Life Scenarios vis-a-vis Music Licensing Companies

While reviewing various companies that help musicians license their music, I’ve seen a wide variety of business models. Some are pay-up-front, we’ll take whatever you’ve got, and others are very selective, and have a multi-stage screening process for the music that they actually enter into their database, and only get paid when they get you a deal. In my mind, the latter type of company is going to have motives more aligned with those of the artists themselves. They need deals to make money. The former, however, make money by signing people up, not necessarily by getting them licensed. Obviously, the more successful a company is in securing licensing deals, the more people will want to sign up, so they do have a similar, but weaker, motivation to get deals. Just some thoughts. What do you think about it?

Take the “Test”

Have a look at these main marketing images for two well-known music services, the Indie Bible and Taxi.

Are these designed to attract seriously talented people, or “delusionals”? Just a question…

Caveat: I have used both of them, and the Indie Bible has been pretty useful to me on occasion, as was a critique I received from Taxi…So are my suspicions unfounded? Am I too delusional? or what?

Indie Bible
Indie Bible
Taxi's homepage
Taxi's homepage