The process of recording and releasing music has changed dramatically over the past few decades. This is especially true for independent artists. By independent I personally mean not bound by a contract. On the one hand, recording and playing a music album is easier than ever. On the other hand, there is a lot more competition now and you have to push yourself a lot if you want your album to reach beyond your close friends and family.
Whether you’re getting ready to release your first album, EP or single, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
Signing up is just one step
With today’s technology, anyone who wants to make and release a record can do so relatively quickly and on a budget. In a basic home studio, record all your songs, upload them to SoundCloud or Bandcamp, and you’re done! You just released your first album!
Unfortunately, this is the point where many new artists think they are done. They could make a few Facebook posts regarding the album release, but they get stuck right at the start and don’t know why their record isn’t blowing up the internet.
If you’re just recording for fun or to share with friends and family, this is the perfect place to stop. But if you actually want to sell copies and use the materials to promote your actions, a lot more needs to be done about it. The process can easily take 6 to 12 months! It requires a huge commitment of time and energy to make your album stand out from the huge wave of new music being released every day. Every hour you devote will affect your popularity, image, rating and sales accordingly.
Signing up is not the first step!
There are a lot of processes that go into creating an album, and a lot of it actually happens before you even hit the record button.
A key factor that separates the successful albums from the mediocre ones in the boundless “ocean” of music is imperative planning. How are you going to get people excited about the album release? Where are you recording and who will be doing the sound? How much will it cost and where will this money come from? These are things that should be established as early as possible in the process, otherwise you could find yourself in an unexpectedly unpleasant situation.
If you plan to tour to promote the album or even release a CD, you should start working with publishers and other local bands months in advance to make sure you get the perfect dates and venues.
How will you promote your album after its first release? Try to plan your entire strategy before entering the studio so that you have a clear path to follow when the time comes. Otherwise, you might end up with a few social media posts but overwhelmed with other band duties and not finding new ways to promote your current album.
Advance preparation saves money!
Recording in a professional recording studio is an expensive endeavor. Even if you’re not in a big name recording studio, the process can still be a very exhausting and stressful experience. But being 100 percent prepared before entering the recording studio will definitely save you a lot of time, stress, and money. If you have even the slightest uncertainty or omission about any part of your songs, be honest and address these issues in rehearsals before recording. The microphone is your harshest and most honest critic. Oftentimes, minor mistakes you make in concert or rehearsal will stick out like a sore thumb in the studio and even cause problems in the recording. Some problems are not noticeable until you hear them on a recording. This is why creating a demo is extremely helpful. As you prepare to enter the recording studio, ask a friend or local independent engineer to make a quick and inexpensive recording of your band, playing all the material that will go on your recording. That way, you’ll be able to hear exactly what the recording is going to be like and identify any mistakes before you start spending the big bucks on a nice room (if you decide to go that route).
Avoid “blocking” and burnout through a schedule.
Recording is a very focused and very tiring process and you can very easily “block” in the middle of it. This is something that many new artists learn the hard way. Let’s say you booked two full days in a recording studio. If you’re trying to plan things out, it would seem logical to do all the instrumental tracks in one day, then do all the vocals, “finish” by adding effects and other finishing touches to the tracks. A plan like this is a recipe for disaster. Even the most prepared party can take a long time and more experience to get this spell. Have you ever tried to play one of your songs six times in a row without stopping in order to play it as well as possible while under budget and deadline pressure? It’s stressful, and the stress and extreme focus can really make you tired and frustrated. From here, the downward spiral could be big. Frustration and exhaustion usually don’t help you perform at your best. When scheduling the recording, try to arrange things in a way that allows everyone to take breaks. Although you may need to book extra time in the recording studio, the results you get will make a big difference in the quality of the recording.
Your team is everything
There are many people involved in making the records. Of course, it’s basically you and your band. But there may also be engineers, producers, session musicians and managers who have an impact on the final product. The better your team, the better results you will achieve. Choose an engineer carefully. If you go into the recording studio and plan to use your own engineer, try to research the options and choose and invite the one you think will best fit your band and do the job best. This is especially important if you leave the tracking and mixing to the “home” engineer. Although any professional recording studio employee should be competent enough to make your band sound good. That doesn’t mean his personal style will match your vision exactly. If you’re a solo artist or a band with session musicians, make sure the artists you use are good and play the style you’re recording. Paying for better musicians can actually save you money in the long run because cheaper ones may cost you more in the studio.
Plan your follow-up in a timely manner.
You have your whole life to create the magical debut record. But once you release it, you need to act quickly to keep interest in your band. While the model of releasing one album a year may not be for you, it’s important to have some consistency in the speed at which you release new music . If it took you 10 years to finish all the songs on your first album, they must have already forgotten you. If it takes you that long to release the next album too! Keep coming up with new ideas while presenting your first album, and try not to fall behind in the writing process of the next album.
Modern media creates and controls the rhythm of album releases. Before, when there was a physical medium, it determined the length of the album. And rhythm as an unwritten law was the year. Everyone remembers how albums of great bands are more easily associated with the year than with the name of the album. Gradually, singles took over and artists started releasing music much more often in smaller “portions”. Thus, they remind themselves more often and stand in the zone of interest. Now everything seems to be geared towards releasing singles. Financially, it’s also more cost-effective because the budget is focused on the specific song. A clip is made, it is advertised in the media. So playing a song is a process of making it just right, regardless of how it will sound on the album along with the others. There is even a tendency to make it a seasonal song. Artist X’s new “summer hit” brings him rapid popularity as his track is being played everywhere. Eh .. this popularity!
There is another trend, which is the subject of a completely different post. It is that artists are more concerned with becoming “popular” than making music.
See also: 10 Free Marketing Strategies Your Gang Can Use!
See also: 4 important things to know before booking the recording studio without a producer
See also: How to choose a recording studio that’s right for you.