Tuesday, December 16, 2014

These rock bands have the biggest vocabularies

Now, a statistics nut by the name of Brian Chesley has taken Daniels’ original concept and explored a different genre: rock ‘n’ roll. Now, to be honest, Chesley’s data isn’t as solid as Daniels. The sample size is minute in comparison — Daniels recently examined another 20 new rappers, bringing his total to 105; Chesley, meanwhile, only looks at 10 rockers (What, no Bruce?). Also, instead of using Daniels’ lyrical benchmark of 35,000 words, Chesley kept his data to 17,000 words, “because I couldn’t get more lyrics for Led Zeppelin – they only have [approximately] 70 short songs on A-Z lyrics.” (Daniels’ method would have meant Zep wouldn’t be counted at all.)
All the guts aside, Chesley charted the data with average words per song on the Y-axis and number of unique words on the X. What’s immediately apparent is that most rockers average about 210 words per song with 2,000 unique words over all; The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, U2, and Led Zeppelin all cluster together in that area, with AC/DC and Metallica being slight outliers in either direction.
The more shocking statistics come with the unique outliers. First up is KISS, who have been making music since 1974 but have apparently gotten away with using fewer than 1,400 words. Chesley pointed out that common theory is you should know about 2,000 words to converse at a basic level, but KISS’ conservative vocabulary shouldn’t be too surprising. “This makes sense to some degree – Kiss has a heavy metal style that focuses on instrumentals and raw energy.” In other words, words don’t matter when music rocks hard!
On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got Pink Floyd. Such great portions of their songs are grooves and jams, but they never skimped on the dark lyricism. Even though they only used about 135 words per song, they used over 2,600 different ones. That gives them the largest vocabulary of the bands Chesley looked at by almost 400.
Curious about where the rockers would stack against the rappers, Chesley had to extrapulate his data, as you can see below with Metallica. The results put the heavy metal icons in the 10th percentile just behind Drake, while Pink Floyd settles somewhere ahead of T.I. in the 25% range. Chesley wraps up his article with a conclusion we all always knew to be true, but now have the statistics to back it up: “Key take away – classic rock artists generally do not use a robust vocabulary in their lyrics; they instead rely on awesome instrumentals, vocals, and energy.”
source : http://consequenceofsound.net/

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Importance of Music

Some people think music education is a privilege,  but I think it's essential to being human."

-Jewel - singer, songwriter and instrumentalist

Barack Obama Says :"Education in the arts is more important than ever. In the global economy, creativity is essential. Today's workers need more than just skills and knowledge to be productive and innovative participants." He continues to explain that creative experiences are part of the daily work life of engineers, business managers and hundreds of other professionals. "To succeed today and in the future, America's children will need to be inventive, resourceful and imaginative."

The opportunity to learn about the arts and to perform as artists is an essential part of a well-rounded curriculum and complete education. The arts help students explore realities, relationships and ideas that cannot be conveyed simply in words or numbers. And the arts engender innovative problem solving that students can apply to other academic disciplines while at the same time, provide experience working as a team.[1]
Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, echoes the President's Committee's thoughts. He firmly believes that "when a school delivers the complete education to which every child is entitled - an education that very much includes the arts - the whole child blossoms."

The Academic Benefits of Music Education

"I've been playing the violin for over 10 years... In the meantime,
I've developed a liking for high-level math, like calculus..."

-High school student
Researchers have studied the benefits of music education for decades, consistently finding strong correlations between music and academic achievement. For example, positive results have been noted in standardized tests. Regardless of socioeconomic background, according to a 10-year study that tracked more than 25,000 middle and high school students, music-making students get higher marks on standardized tests than those who have little or no music involvement. The College Entrance Examination Board found that students in music programs scored 63 points higher on the verbal and 44 points higher on the math sections of the SATs than students with no music participation. Additionally, students performed better on other standardized tests such as reading proficiency exams.
Similarly, a study examining the relationship between participation in high or low-quality school music programs and standardized test scores showed that students in high-quality programs scored higher on both English and mathematics standardized tests than their counterparts who did not have high-quality instruction (Johnson, 2006). The researchers also found that students in exceptional music programs as well as low-quality instrumental programs still performed better in English and mathematics than those students receiving no music classes.
These findings were all confirmed in the first major study to compare data from four longitudinal studies. In this landmark study, James Catterall, found that teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic status (SES) who have a history of in-depth arts involvement show better academic outcomes than do low-SES youth with less arts involvement. These students have higher test scores in science, writing and math, as well as higher overall GPAs than students who lacked arts experiences.  Better GPAs also were observed among high SES students.
Lastly, a study performed at the University of British Columbia emphasized that participation in music does not hamper achievement in other domains. "Widespread notion is that instructional time spent on music courses is 'wasted' because it takes away from time used for academic 'core' subjects and thus slows down students' progress in those courses. [However] our results imply that music participation benefits students in ways that are directly or indirectly linked to higher academic achievement in general. . ."[2]

Mathematics Skills

Research has clearly found that music instruction helps develop the capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning, which is integral to the acquisition of important mathematics skills. One explanation is musical training in rhythm emphasizes proportion, patterns, fractions and ratios expressed as mathematical relations.
U.S. Department of Education data showed that students involved in band or orchestra during their middle and high school years demonstrated significantly higher levels of math proficiency by grade 12. The results were even more pronounced for low-income families. Those who took instrumental music were more than twice as likely to perform at the highest levels in math as their peers who were not involved in music (Catterall, 2002). Similar findings were found by Helmrich (2010) who concluded that formal instrumental instruction was positively correlated with algebra achievement. He also analyzed the data for differences between white and black students, finding that students of both races performed better than those who received no music instruction. Interestingly, the degree to which music instruction affects the achievement of black students is greater than that of white students.
A meta-analysis of 15 studies involving 701 children ages 3 to 12 years (Hetland, 2000) suggested that children provided with music instruction score higher than controls on spatial-temporal tasks. Children who begin music instruction very early in life are likely to show the greatest benefits. And longitudinal research suggests that at least two years of music instruction are required for sustained enhancement of spatial abilities (Rauscher, 2002).
Other studies have demonstrated the correlation between music and academic performance at a young age. These include Cutietta (1998) who found that elementary school children who played in the orchestra scored considerably higher on math and spatial intelligence tests and Shaw (2000), who conducted a four-month study on the effects of piano instruction on making spatial and temporal distinctions. The second-graders who received piano instruction for 25 minutes each week scored 15% higher than the test cell and 27% higher on questions devoted to proportional math. Shaw concluded that piano lessons condition the brain and that spatial awareness and the need to think ahead reinforced latent neuronal patterns.

Reading and Language Skills

In the case of language development, the relationship between music and skill transfer is less obvious or direct. Nonetheless, what we write, read and hear involve words that are used and understood in specific contexts. These contexts can be seen as spatial networks where words are related to other words and expressions. Thus, overall reading skills improve with exposure to music, as does the quality of a student's writing.
In 2000, Ron Butzlaff conducted a year-long study on 162 sixth graders to determine whether instrumental music instruction helps children acquire reading skills. At the end of the year, all the students were given the Stanford Achievement Test, which explores reading and verbal skills, and Butzlaff found that students with two or three years of instrumental musical experience performed significantly higher on the exam than the students with no instrumental music instruction. Similarly, in 2000, using a sample size of more than 500,000 high school students, Butzlaff found a strong and reliable association between music instruction and reading test scores.
Other researchers have demonstrated that music enhances reading and cognitive development as well. For instance, in a 1995 study with six to nine year-old students with learning difficulties specific to reading, Bygrave tracked the children in a 30-week study in Michigan. Post-test results indicated that the music program had a significant positive effect on the students' receptive vocabulary. Another study, involving six to 15 year-old boys, found that music training significantly increased verbal memory. As expected, the longer the training, the better the verbal memory (Ho, Cheung & Chan, 2003). Finally in "Arts education, the brain and language," musicians were found to have significantly increased second language performance, greater fluency and competency compared to non-musicians (Petitto, 2008)

The Practical Benefits of Music Education

"It is clear from the research the arts provide the type of emotional,
creative and expressive development that students
can benefit from throughout their lives."

-Dr. Nancy Rubino - Senior Director, College Board
Not all benefits derived from a music education are academic. Many studies have found that involvement in music leads to positive personal, social and motivational effects. Specifically, Catterall (2012) demonstrated that the arts significantly boost student involvement - both for low SES and high SES groups -- in extracurricular activities and student government, reduce discipline problems and increase the odds that students will go on to graduate from both high school and a four-year college. In short, music helps improve the overall quality of a young person's life.
A Columbia University study revealed that students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. As a result, researchers have found a reduction in aggressive and anti-social behavior as well as an increase in pro-social behavior (Bastian, 2000). Similarly, a study by Shields (2001) using music education in a mentoring program found a significant positive increase in self-perception derived from musical competence and a correlation between musical competence and global self-worth. Students felt free to be themselves and gained confidence from the experience. Finally, students who participate in school band or orchestra have the lowest levels of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs among any group in our society. Importantly, these positive behavioral effects steadily increase and persist over time.
Performing with others also helps students build critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students who play an instrument in a band need to acquire certain social and emotional skills necessary to be a contributing member, including discipline, collaboration, patience, persistence and motivation (Adderly, 2003). In addition, performing in front of others helps boost children's self-esteem and gives them the opportunity to overcome fears and see they can succeed.
The arts also create a supportive environment that promotes acceptance of constructive criticism and safely allows one to take risks (Barry, 2002). In several national studies over the past decade, students at risk of dropping out of school cite participation in the arts as their reason for staying. These students also reported watching fewer hours of television, participating more in community service and having less feelings of boredom in school. Similarly, orchestra students in Tacoma, Washington (Cutietta, 1998) followed over a two-month period were found to have more positive attitudes about school and less classroom friction and competitiveness.
Finally, in Catterall's 2012 study, the findings revealed a large increase in volunteerism in young adults with arts-rich high school experiences. This was true for both low income and high income students, with a greater impact seen on low income students.

Today's Reality

"The skills gained through sequential music instruction, including discipline and
the ability to analyze, solve problems, communicate and work cooperatively,
are vital for success in the 21st century workplace."

-U.S. House of Representatives, 2006

The Facts

Despite the strong supporting evidence, the arts remain on the fringe of education. Music classes are often the last to be added and first to be dropped in hard economic times. According to the Department of Education’s report, "Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009-2010," more than 1.3 million students in elementary school receive no music instruction. The same is true for roughly 800,000 secondary school students. Likewise, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (2008) found that private schools have better music education than public ones and suburban schools are better equipped than inner-city and rural schools. By extension, schools in higher income areas consistently offer more music and arts classes than schools in poor areas - a finding consistent with both reports.
But all students -- 100 percent - should have access to arts instruction. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization that is built on partnerships with the business community, advocates for not only the 3Rs, but the 4Cs: Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication,
Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation. In a study of superintendents and employers, both agreed that creativity is increasingly important in the U.S. workplace and that arts training is crucial to developing that creativity.[3]
As "Reinvesting in Arts Education" concludes, the narrow focus on only teaching the basics clearly has not been the answer. Many high school graduates lack the skills to make them successful in post-secondary education and later in the work force. Their report discusses the 21st century skills including problem solving, critical and creative thinking, dealing with ambiguity and complexity, integration of multiple skill sets and disciplinary work.
Catterall's 2012 study once again backs up this premise, as data conclusively showed that both low-SES and high-SES students with strong arts backgrounds ended up in professional majors in college (i.e., accounting, education, nursing) and were planning professional careers by age 30 (i.e., management, sales, teaching). Casner-Lotto (2006) concurred stating that employers are placing value not just on basics but also applied skills such as problem solving, collaboration and creativity. Finally, business leaders from diverse industries such as Xerox, GlaxoSmirthKline and Google all agree that music aids students in skills needed in the workplace including flexibility, effective communication, creativity and innovation.

Public Opinion

Interestingly, the lack of support in the classroom does not mirror the vast majority of the general public's views. A May 2005 Harris Poll revealed that 93% of Americans agree that the arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education for children. In addition, the poll showed public support for the arts in the following ways:
  • 86% agree an arts education encourages and assists in the improvement of a child's attitudes toward school
  • 83% believe that arts education helps teach children to communicate effectively with adults and peers
  • 54% rated the importance of arts education a "ten" on a scale of one to ten

Government Views

While the government overtly supports arts education, it is powerless at a regional level. In August 2009, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote a letter urging all school and education community leaders to remember the arts when determining budget and programming decisions for the upcoming school year. He stated: "I write to bring to your attention the importance of the arts as a core academic subject and part of a complete education for all students... I was reminded of the important role that arts education plays in providing American students with a well-rounded education. The arts can help students become tenacious, team-oriented problem solvers who are confident and able to think creatively."[4]
The White House even started a Music Series, complete with a "Coming Up Taller" award. Awards are given to successful programs across the country that reach students who have insufficient opportunities to explore the arts. The award's unusual name stems from the pride students feel when given the chance to find their voices through the arts. As honorary chairwoman, Mrs. Obama, said: "Music shows young people not just the powers of their imaginations... but the power of discipline and hard work, and of teamwork as well."[5]

Tomorrow's Future

It is evident that the call for more rigorous academic standards is insufficient without a concomitant focus on developing creativity and imagination. In fact, many believe the U.S. will lose its competitive edge as an innovative world leader unless a shift in thinking and teaching is made.
Relying on government, individual school systems - even public sentiment -- is not enough. For this reason, the private sector must step in to fill the void left by the current educational system. Organizations such as Music Empowers help provide equitable access to music and all its benefits by advocating for youth in areas where traditional music education is limited. By helping fund and develop music programs that clearly foster an appreciation for music, improve academic achievement, build self-esteem, teach critical social skills, and engender creativity and innovation, Music Empowers hopes to ignite the spark of creativity that lies within all children and inspire a love of learning. Only then -- when children have access to academics their schools provide and music that private philanthropy provides -- will they be able to achieve their highest potential. It is a goal we all should share.
*Ellen Judson has worked for more the 20 years in marketing, both on the client and agency side. In such roles, she created strategic marketing plans performed extensive market research and wrote materials for public relations, advertising and promotional activities. Taking on the new topic of music education, Ellen has found the array of benefits overwhelming and hopes to convey to others the consistent and impressive correlation between music education and improved academic and social behavior.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Unpacking the Science: How Playing Music Changes the Learning Brain

Remember “Mozart Makes You Smarter”?
A 1993 study of college students showed them performing better on spatial reasoning tests after listening to a Mozart sonata. That led to claims that listening to Mozart temporarily increases IQs — and to a raft of products purporting to provide all sorts of benefits to the brain.
In 1998, Zell Miller, then the governor of Georgia, even proposed providing every newborn in his state with a CD of classical music.
But subsequent research has cast doubt on the claims.
Ani Patel, an associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and the author of “Music, Language, and the Brain,” says that while listening to music can be relaxing and contemplative, the idea that simply plugging in your iPod is going to make you more intelligent doesn’t quite hold up to scientific scrutiny.
“On the other hand,” Patel says, “there’s now a growing body of work that suggests that actually learning to play a musical instrument does have impacts on other abilities.” These include speech perception, the ability to understand emotions in the voice and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
Patel says this is a relatively new field of scientific study.
“The whole field of music neuroscience really began to take off around 2000,” he says. “These studies where we take people, often children, and give them training in music and then measure how their cognition changes and how their brain changes both in terms of its processing [and] its structure, are very few and still just emerging.”
Patel says that music neuroscience, which draws on cognitive science, music education and neuroscience, can help answer basic questions about the workings of the human brain.
“How do we process sequences with complex hierarchical structure and make sense of them?” he asks. “How do we integrate sensation and action? How do we remember long and difficult sequences of information? These are fundamental neuroscience questions, and music can help us answer some of these questions, because it’s in some ways simpler than language, but it’s still of sufficient complexity that it can address these very deep and important aspects of human brain function.”
In addition, Patel says music neuroscience research has important implications about the role of music in the lives of young children.
“If we know how and why music changes the brain in ways that affect other cognitive abilities,” he says, “this could have a real impact on the value we put on it as an activity in the schools, not to mention all the impact it has on emotional development, emotional maturity, social skills, stick-to-itiveness, things we typically don’t measure in school but which are hugely important in a child’s ultimate success.”

At the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston, every student receives music instruction.
“It doesn’t matter whether they have had music instruction before or not,” says Diana Lam, the head of the school.
The school, which accepts new students by lottery, is bucking a national trend, as more and more cash-strapped school districts pare down or eliminate music programs.
Lam says music is part of her school’s core curriculum because it teaches students to strive for quality in all areas of their lives — and because it gets results.
“Music addresses some of the behaviors and skills that are necessary for academic success,” she says. “Since we started implementing El Sistema, the Venezuelan music program, as well as project-based learning, our test scores have increased dramatically.”
But what does the latest scientific research tell us? The question, according to neuropsychologist Nadine Gaab, is not simply whether music instruction has beneficial effects on young brains.
“There’s a lot of evidence,” Gaab says, “that if you play a musical instrument, especially if you start early in life, that you have better reading skills, better math skills, et cetera. The question is, what is the underlying mechanism?”
At her lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, Gaab leads a team of researchers studying children’s brain development, recently identifying signs in the brain that might indicate dyslexia before kids learn to read. Gaab and her colleagues are also looking for connections between musical training and language development.

“Initially we thought that it’s training the auditory system, which then helps you with language, reading and other academic skills,” she says.
Instead, in a study published last month, Gaab and her team delineated a connection — in both children and adults — between learning to play an instrument and improved executive functioning, like problem-solving, switching between tasks and focus.
“Could it be,” Gaab asks, “that musical training trains these executive functioning skills, which then helps with academic skills?”
To find out, researchers gave complex executive functioning tasks to both musically trained and untrained children while scanning their brains in MRI machines.
“For example,” Gaab says, “you would hear the noise of a horse, ‘neigh,’ and every time you hear the horse, whenever you see a triangle you have to press the left button and whenever you see a circle you have to press the right button. However, if you hear a frog, the rule switches.”
While noting the children’s ability to follow the rules, the scientists also watched for activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, known to be the seat of executive functioning.
“We were just looking at how much of the prefrontal cortex was activated while they were doing this ‘neigh-froggy’ task in the scanner,” Gaab says. “And we could show that musically trained children and professional adult musicians have better executive functioning skills compared to their peers who do not play a musical instrument. We could further show that children who are musically trained have more activation in these prefrontal areas compared to their peers.”
So does music-making enhance executive functioning?
Gaab hastens to add, “We don’t know what’s the egg and what’s the hen.” That is, whether musical proficiency makes for better executive functioning, or vice-versa.
But Gaab cites other studies which imply the former.
“It’s most likely the musical training that improves executive functioning skills,” she says. “You could just hypothesize that playing in an orchestral setting is particularly training the executive functioning skills because you have to play in a group; you have to listen to each other.”
And Gaab says that’s analogous to what happens in the brain of a musician.
“There are a lot of different brain systems involved in successfully playing even a small musical piece: your auditory system, your motor system, your emotional system, your executive function system; this playing together of these brain regions, almost like in a musical ensemble.”

But the question remains: Why would acquiring musical skills influence language and other higher brain functions? Neuropsychologist Patel has developed a theory he calls the OPERA hypothesis.

“The basic idea is that music is not an island in the brain cut off from other things, that there’s overlap, that’s the ‘O’ of OPERA, between the networks that process music and the networks that are involved in other day-to-day cognitive functions such as language, memory, attention and so forth,” he says. “The ‘P’ in OPERA is precision. Think about how sensitive we are to the tuning of an instrument, whether the pitch is in key or not, and it can be painful if it’s just slightly out of tune.”
That level of precision in processing music, Patel says, is much higher than the level of precision used in processing speech. This means, he says, that developing our brains’ musical networks may very well enhance our ability to process speech.
“And the last three components of OPERA, the ‘E-R-A,’ are emotion, repetition and attention,” he says. “These are factors that are known to promote what’s called brain plasticity, the changing of the brain’s structure as a function of experience.”
Patel explains that brain plasticity results from experiences which engage the brain through emotion, are repetitive, and which require full attention. Experiences such as playing music.
“So this idea,” he says, “that music sometimes places higher demands on the brain, on some of the same shared networks that we use for other abilities, allows the music to actually enhance those networks, and those abilities benefit.”
One striking example of this is the use of singing to restore speech. At the Music and Neuroimaging Lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Gottfried Schlaug has pioneered singing as a therapeutic method of rehabilitating victims of stroke and other brain injuries, as well as people with severe autism.
And some of the most recent music neuroscience research is using music as a tool to better understand, and even predict, language-based learning disabilities.
But not all of the ideas behind this research, or even the methods, have come from scientists.
Paulo Andrade teaches music at Colegio Criativa, a private school in Marilia, Brazil. He and his wife Olga, who’s also a teacher there, became interested in the relationship between musical and language skills among their elementary school students.
“We both work with the same children,” Andrade says, “and we started to exchange information about how the children were going. I could relate the musical development of children to their language ability and literacy.”
Andrade developed some collective classroom tasks to identify children at risk of learning disabilities. He asked his second-grade music class to listen to him play a series of chord sequences on the guitar, and identify each one.
“I asked [the] children to write visual symbols to represent the sound sequence they were hearing,” he explains, “a simple line to express chords in the high register and a circle to represent the chords played in the low register.”
Andrade made the students pause before writing down the identifying symbol. This would test their working memory, a kind of mental Post-it note crucial to language comprehension.
“What I presented to children was simple rhythm, for instance, [Andrade imitates the sound of his guitar] ti-tum-tum-chi. I counted the meter one, two, three, four, and then they start to write.”


What Andrade saw was that the kids who had severe difficulty with the task were also struggling with reading and writing. He knew he had good data, but he needed help from a scientist to analyze his data and methodology, and to write up the findings for publication.
“I read some papers by Nadine Gaab, and I searched for the page on the Internet and found Harvard and emailed her,” he says.
Recently, Andrade was in Boston on a Harvard fellowship, working on a follow-up to his research at the Gaab lab.
“We have found that this task, given to second-graders, can predict their literacy ability in the fifth grade,” Andrade says.
About her collaboration with the Brazilian music teacher, Gaab says, “I think that’s a really nice example of neuroeducation, bridging neuroscience and education.”
And she adds that Andrade’s musical test is particularly useful, in that it can be administered cheaply and easily to whole classrooms, regardless of the students’ native language.
“What we would love to do is replicate this study in the U.S.,” Gaab says, “but there’s no funding right now, so we’re working on that.”
Patel, the Tufts professor, says that getting funding for research in music neuroscience is often a challenge. It’s still a young field, he says, “and funding bodies tend to be very conservative, in terms of the kind of research they fund.”
The difficulty in sustaining funding may be similar to what music educators are facing.
“In terms of music in the schools,” Patel says, “it’s interesting that music is often the very first thing to be cut when budgets get tight, and as far as I know, that’s never based on any research or evidence about the impact of music on young children’s lives; it’s based on the intuition that this is sort of a frill.”
Gaab, Patel’s fellow neuropsychologist, agrees.
“Currently there’s a lot of talking about cutting music out of the curriculum of public and private schools, and I think it may be the wrong way to go,” Gaab says. “It may cut out some of the important aspects, such as to train executive functioning and have fun and emotional engagement at the same time.”
Both Gaab and Patel believe that music neuroscience is paying off, not only in showing the tremendous practical importance of music education, but also to help answer fundamental questions about the deepest workings of the human brain.
This post originally appeared on WBUR’s CommonHealth blog. Read more about the latest in neuroscience research by checking out the Brain Matters special series.

By George Hicks, WBUR CommonHealth Blog

Thursday, June 5, 2014

4 Simple Steps to Handling Critique Like a Pro!

Fellow artists, I’m sure you can relate to unconstructive criticism. That awful feeling of someone seemingly attacking your creativity without rhyme or reason can leave you feeling pretty deflated.
Critique is something all creatives will face from time-to time, and it’s easy to be particularly sensitive when coming up against somebody offering less than flattering feedback.
There are many ways you can choose to handle this, but here are 4 steps in particular that I’ve found to be quite effective:

Step 1: Understanding the critique

You’ve put effort into a project only to have it fall on “deaf ears”, a live performance doesn’t get the desired reaction, a song concept is rejected by your peers but you’re not sure why – then ask!
In order to make sense of the reason for someone’s displeasure – you must ask. Unless you’re superhuman (specifically Professor X), you cannot read minds, and not asking creates the risk of making that same mistake again. After all, criticism is only constructive if you can learn from it!
In order for you to not become conceited, seeing every possible comment that isn’t a compliment, as a dig, you need to become aware of the fact that sometimes, opinion just means a person’s dislike of your work, is simply a matter of preference.

Step 2: Accepting the critique

You’ve understood the reasons behind the harsh words: You’ve managed to refrain from having a hissy fit or resorting to returning insults, and you’ve decided not take anything too personally. Great!
Accepting the fact that you might not appeal to everyone is a key element is getting along as an artist. Once you’ve understood the reasons behind the critique, and decided whether itís something you wish to take on board or not – it can no longer affect you.

Step 3: Embracing the criticiser

At all costs, avoid being drawn into a pointless game of one-upmanship.
We’ve all seen or heard about entertaining Twitter-feuds, shocking Facebook revelations and other forms of scandalous exposé that shed light of the inner goings on of the mainstream music industry, and more often than not such feuds are usually fuelled by differences of opinions from the artists in question and their “haters”.
As fun as these stories are to read about, there is something to be learned here:
Instead of wasting time trying to get your own back on the person that offended you, embrace them!
If you can’t physically do so in person, be sure to respond to them in real time (by using the inter-web for example); You’d be surprised at the reaction you might get once you get a civilized dialogue going with the perpetrator – remember, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

Step 4: Moving on

Once you’ve understood, accepted and embraced the critique, youíll be all set – to forget it! The criticism that is, not the lesson.
You see, carrying every negative comment ever made about you around, will do nothing for your self-esteem. Besides, as long as you exist, theyíll be people in existence that ruffle your feathers and that, you cannot avoid.
And so to conclude with some very humbling words once spoken by Aristotle:

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. - Aristotle

Originally posted by Dreama


10 Marketing Basics for Musicians

With the barrage of new websites and blogs targeting independent artists, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to marketing your music. Information and ideas are everywhere and unless you’ve got a strong marketing foundation it can feel like trying to put together a giant puzzle without being able to look at the box. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 10 marketing basics to help expose the underlying structure that makes a music marketing campaign successful.
1. The music has to be great. If your music isn’t cutting it, your time will be better spent working on that rather than coming up with clever marketing ideas. Trying to market bad music is like trying to conduct electricity through plastic. You can ramp up the voltage, but the charge isn’t going to go very far.
2. Get in front of people. Good internet marketing should be used in combination with live performances, not as a substitute. You have to create a live show that’s remarkable. Get in front of real people and show them why you or your band deserve their attention and their money. You’re going to have an uphill battle trying to market a band that plays mediocre shows or that doesn’t play shows at all.
3. Tell people who you are. If I happen to walk in half-way through your set, don’t make me work to find out who you are. Make sure I know your name and that I’ll remember it. Put it on your kick drum. Have a banner. Mention your name a few times.
If I meet you somewhere, be able to tell me who you are as an artist-clearly and concisely. If you can’t condense the essence of your music into a short and interesting sentence then you will have problems marketing yourself.
4. Get email addresses. Have a friend or two go around and collect emails while you play. You need a means to market to the people who want to stay in touch with you. Don’t just count on people finding out how and when to buy your CD or go to your show. Be proactive. Make your mailing list a priority and don’t miss opportunities to expand it. I went to a panel discussion over the weekend that included Ariel Hyatt. She passed around a clipboard where people could write in their email address and in return they got some cool tips on web marketing. It’s not random luck that she is a very successful publicist.
5. Connect. Derek Sivers tells the story of how Terry McBride of the Network Music Group came up with the idea to have one of the bands he managed take a different approach to selling CDs at their shows. Typically they would mention that they had CDs for sale for $15. What they decided to try instead was telling the audience that they wanted everyone to leave with a CD and that they could pay whatever they could – even if that meant it was free. They appealed to a sense of emotional connectedness with their fans and changed the dynamic of the sale. They ended up bringing in about 4x as much money per night with this approach! And because they had more music in circulation in the towns where they did this, they ended up dramatically increasing their turnout for future gigs.
6. Simplicity is key. There’s a saying in marketing: “The confused mind always says no.” If you’re not clear on who you are and what you want people to do then your fans won’t be either. Don’t ask people to do too many things. If you’re at a show, don’t tell people to see Joe to buy a CD, then go to Cindy to buy a T-Shirt and then be sure to find Jamal to sign up for the mailing list. You can have someone collecting email addresses, but also have a signup form at your merch booth, where you sell your merch and CDs. Send everyone there. “Don’t forget to stop by and see Janet for CDs and T-shirts.” Mention this more than once.
The same thinking applies for your website. Don’t tell people to follow you on Twitter, vote for you in a contest, buy a t-shirt and listen to the new song all at the same time. Have those options available, but be clear about what is the top priority. If you decide that the priority is for people to purchase your music, make sure that when people visit your site they can clearly see how to purchase your music.
7. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson suggests that people need to be exposed to a product an average of nine times before they will take action and buy it. Don’t expect people to come to a show because they saw a flyer. Think long term. Stay on track and keep hammering your message home.
8. Create a funnel. One strategy that affiliate marketers use is creating a number of sites that support what they call their “money site.” They’ll create sites designed to pull in and engage new people, with the ultimate goal of sending them to the money site, which is optimized to convert these visitors into customers. I recommend thinking about your social networking profiles as your supporting sites that funnel traffic to your website, which is your “money site.” Test different ideas on your main site to see what works. Tweak and optimize it so that you convert more and more of your visitors into fans and customers.
9. Ask for the sale. Don’t be shy when it comes to promoting your product and asking people to buy it. If you don’t ask people to buy what you’re selling then you probably won’t make much money. If this feels weird or uncomfortable to you, I highly recommend checking out the work of T.Harv Eker. He’s got a great book called “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” and does seminars all over the world, many of which are free.
10. Keep score. One thing that successful artists have in common with business people is that they know the score. They keep track of the results they get and use this feedback to help guide them.
Know what you sold on any given night. Know what your net profit was on a given night. Know how many people signed up for your mailing list. Compare those numbers to the last time you played at the same venue or in the same town. Establish goals and compare your numbers to your goals. Keep track of the traffic to your website and your conversions statistics. You can set up free traffic analysis for your site at analytics.google.com.
If you sell 10 CDs on your site one day and then you decide to put a “buy now” button on your home page and you only sell 8 CDs the next day, then you might start to think it wasn’t such a good idea. If you’re keeping track of your traffic stats though, then you might see that there were 312 visitors the first day, but only 150 the second day. This means that you actually converted a much higher percentage of visitors on the second day. If that trend keeps up then you know you’ve made the right move. If you don’t know how much traffic you’re getting then you’re working in the dark.
Another benefit is being able to see where traffic to your site is coming from. If you notice a spike in traffic and you see that it’s coming from a blog that posted about you, then you can capitalize by visiting the blog and initiating a relationship, or at least leaving a comment and reinforcing your presence.
If you understand the fundamentals of marketing you’ll have a solid frame of reference to help you make sense of all the new sites and services that are constantly popping up. It’s important to know not just how or what to do, but also why. I strongly recommend reading business and marketing books to help you with your music career. You might be surprised by the insights you get by reading authors like Seth Godin, Al Reiss, Jay Conrad Levinson, and Claude Hopkins.