MAXIMIZING YOUR MUSIC RELEASE
The era in which record labels invest in artist development is over. Big agencies seek artists who require the least amount of development and have, at very least, a semi-established brand. While artists today have all the tools necessary at their disposal, most lack the knowledge on how to utilize them effectively. The internet has made it possible to reach anyone, anywhere, at any time. Keeping this in mind, the best way to find yourself signing a record deal, is to not need one. Use the resources available to you to establish yourself. Create a logo. Make sure all of your social media channels match in graphics and marketing. Don’t look scattered and amateur. Artists should release singles consistently until fans demand an album, as releasing singles will help you control your time, your execution, gain a better understanding of your fans and will help you gain a stronger direction as an artist. If a band has the itch to release an album, make it an EP. Recording a full length album without an established fanbase will only lead to the loss of time, energy and money.
ie. If you record for 6 months to release an album of 13 songs on iTunes, and out of 1000 sales, 970 people purchased only 1 song, then the time and energy dedicated to the other 12 songs is not justified by your return on investment. Each single is a project that demands full attention.
Each release should have new artwork. Be unique in your approach. Utilize your logo in all of your artwork, as it will also drive sales of merchandise in the long run. Look like an established artist at every turn. As artists in New York City, we've gained more fans and attention online than by any other means. Look at social media and the internet as the ultimate tool for exposure.
WHERE DO I START?
It starts with the music. Record your songs professionally. Get them mixed and mastered by an engineer. Don't be afraid to invest in yourself. While your home recordings might gain the approval of friends and colleagues, the industry does not care about the emotional attachments you have to your music. Recordings must be as professional as possible. New fans will not gain immediate access to your music if you have no media support. Media forums like blogs, radio, podcasts, etc. will not consider you if your music is not mixed and mastered properly. Nothing happens without a proper recording.
MY SONG IS MIXED AND MASTERED. WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
If your song is a remix, cover or recorded on an instrumental not of your own creation, then it is illegal to profit from the recording without properly compensating the appropriate parties beforehand and coming to a contractual agreement. If this isn’t in your plans, then places like SoundCloud, which offer free downloads, would be a good place to post your music. If the song is original from beginning to end, and requires no sample clearance or paperwork, then getting it out to the masses for compensation would be the goal. ReverbNation and TuneCore are massive tools in assisting artists with distribution. $9.99 will get your single on iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora, Napster and various other major outlets while allowing you to keep 100% of sales revenue. Getting a distribution deal and shipping physical inventory to different locations seems like overkill when a simple $10 can put you in front of the world instantly. To maximize the effect of your release, match all of your social media accounts with graphics inspired by the single’s artwork. Each release becomes like a new episode of your favorite TV show, your career.
WHEN SHOULD I RELEASE MY SONG?
If you are planning to shoot a music video for your song, it would be ideal to release both the song and video simultaneously. This impacts the release in a huge way, as it immediately allows you to tell the visual story of your music the moment people hear it for the first time. Established artists have the option to shoot videos for old music at will, because of their known fan base, and marketing capital. Up and coming artists should make sure every release is of maximum value. If you have no plans for a music video, creating a simple video with track and artwork is crucial, as having a YouTube presence opens up monetization opportunities vital to maintaining a successful career as a recording artist. Set a release date for your song that is in line with your plans for the single. Give yourself enough time to create a solid music video, or simple track video, to accompany the release.
MY SONG IS RELEASED. WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
Independent artists more than likely own the rights to their masters and publishing. Knowing the difference is key. Masters are the actual recording composition, the WAV or MP3 audio frequency patterns which make up the song you’ve created. Publishing is the word composition within the song itself (ie. If a radio station plays your song, then you are paid royalties on the master. If an artist uses your words in his song, then you are paid on the publishing end). ReverbNation and TuneCore provide the same services BMI and ASCAP provide, but for independent artists. A one time $75 fee will allow you to register all of your music for publishing and royalty payouts. If your song is being released for compensation, (ie. iTunes, Amazon, Napster) then registering your music under a Music Publishing program is key in collecting revenue outside of sales. Radio spins, YouTube plays and other features are all monitored by this program, and pay artists accordingly. (This program is not affiliated with YouTube’s monetization program, which pays top accounts for video plays and ad placements. Artists can generate revenue through royalties, plays and advertisements on a single video.)
HOW DO I GET MEDIA SUPPORT?
Your song is complete. Your video is done. Your release is finalized. All of your social media accounts are marketed properly. Now you want media attention. There are still a few small steps to ensure you are prepared, and taken seriously. Copy the iTunes link for your release and paste it in the description of your YouTube video, as well as the featured link on your Instagram account. This makes it easy for anyone who sees or hears about your release to purchase immediately. Link all of your accounts to Instagram, and use the single's artwork as a “flyer” to flood all outlets at once, with up to 30 hashtags. Doing this before reaching out to media shows them you are not relying on them, and are willing to do the work yourself. However, even with all this, simply reaching out to blogs and stations will not get you recognized. You must package a press release and submit through the proper channels. Artists always have the option to research press release writing and attempt it themselves, but getting professional help in this realm can make all the difference as to whether the media outlet is impressed with the artist, or not.
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