In the past, music production used to be an area only professionals and labels would invest heavily on. Creating a musical work used to be divided into several stages (although still a common practice today among professionals) involving professionals like composers, songwriters, record producers, instrumentalists, mixing and mastering engineers. As technology kept advancing, it became more and more easy for music to be produced. In the modern day, it takes just a laptop, a microphone and some free musical software to get go with producing even commercial songs. To be able to come out with a good and competitive product, be you a label or an indie artist, serious thoughts and considerations have to be put in place. Make sure you settle for as good a recording as possible, before you even think of releasing anything. Remember you are not alone; for every release you put out there, there is an average 4 songs released every second, 1 new artist every minute and about 50 million songs on Spotify alone. The competition is huge. First, you need to be yourself, believe in yourself and your potentials. It’s not about money, fancy equipment or engineers. It’s about you doing and delivering the best you possibly can. With special consideration to artist branding and creating your product, you are certain of competing with the best and impacting you fans as an artist or label. In this article, we shall break down some of the considerations you need to take into account when creating music.
Many labels and artists of today are self-producing their artists and music. With studio equipment becoming more portable and less expensive, more and more people are recording in “home studios”. In fact, there are thousands of artist who have succeeded through this route, so it is by no means an option you shouldn’t consider. With little or no budget, sponsor and investors, this is the way to go. However, being a self producer or investing in a home studio setup is no insurance that you’ll make great products. Keep in mind that a professional setup will have at least a songwriter, composer and mixing and mastering engineers. Having to be all of these requires a lot of talent, hard work and endurance; or maybe just talent, with technology making everything super easy nowadays.
If you decide to take this route, study and understand your genre and figure out what you will actually need to produce your music. Without proper mastery of the sounds, instruments, compositions and style of mixing/mastering of your genre, it becomes difficult to produce a competitive product. For example, you don’t want to produce an electronic music using an acoustic drum kit. Research on the internet, listen to more and more music of your genre and talk to industry professionals (most especially within your genre). Net, you want to take serious consideration on what studio equipment you will actually need. This should be based on your budget but it should take into consideration your studio space, acoustic treatments, softwares, production and recording kits. Also, research on what you will need based on your budget; visit internet forums, talk to professionals and people at several stores. With the knowledge and equipment all checked, you need to move to the next step, releasing your music.
Releasing your music
Whether or not you are a major or indie label or artist, you want to put special consideration on your first release as well as your release strategy. Think about which songs to release from both a marketing and personal point of view. If you are a label or an artist, you want to make sure your first release is marketable and competitive. This will give you a better chance of getting noticed. You want to produce at least 3 or 4 songs which you think are well marketable before considering your first release. Play your rough mix and get objective feedback from people in the music business, including artists, producers, DJs and even kids on the streets who buy it. To get more objective critiques, don’t mention your personal involvement in the project. For an artist, you want to consider using a manager or close friend. For a label, you want to use an A&R or a dedicated staff. Keep an open mind. Not everyone will be positive, or like your music. But get input from those who understand what is marketable in your genre. Ask for suggestions on how you could make your music more marketable. When you are certain about your releases, you want to consider your release strategy. Remember more and more songs are being released every minute. Take serious consideration of how and when your music will be released.
How do you release your music for maximum exposure? This is the key to making sure your music reaches more potential fans. However, there is no standard release strategy. What you want to pay attention to as an artist or label is your communication, marketing, promotional and distribution plans. Research both online and offline on how similar artists of your genre carryout their release strategy. Talk to industry professionals. Make sure you have budget to support the minimum demands. You don’t necessarily need to work on all angles but if you have the means and the team, then make sure you put this a top priority. For example, your branding might be more on your social media presence. This means you might want to focus more of your release strategy on creating a social media buzz. Whatever the case, also take into consideration the basic and traditional release strategies; register your work, have a good cover art, prepare a press release, send your music to blogs, radio, TV and the press, distribute your music to all streaming platforms, book for shows on radio and TV channels, boost or sponsor posts about your music on social media platform, etc. You might also want to carryout traditional release strategies like record release parties, offering free music and other promotional incentives, word of mouth marketing, and building a street team.
When is the appropriate time to release your music? Release time is the key. There is no fixed strategy on this. The most important thing is to make sure there is buzz after releasing; your release doesn’t get drowned in the flood of songs released everyday and you or your artist is easily noticed. To be successful with release dates, study market trends. Which of the major artists are currently trending? What period within the year is best suited for your release? With the means and resources you currently have, what would be the perfect date to release your music after covering 90% or more of your marketing and PR campaigns? Whatever the case, you want to make sure that your release date is perfect to give your music or artist maximum exposure. However, you would want to give a minimum of 2 weeks for singles, 2 months for EPs and 3 or more months for LPs and albums before release. It is common finding artists and labels postponing release dates. While this serves as a good marketing strategy in some cases, it also helps in extending the time to carryout your release strategy and in unforeseen situations (like clash of dates with other competing artists, social media buzz, events, etc.) where you feel your song or artist might not have maximum exposure.
The Production Process
Unless a label, an artist or a band has good studio skills in self-producing, there is always the need to work in the right studios and with competent studio professionals. With budget considerations, choose a studio with standard to high-end equipment, is well situated and can deliver the quality you are looking for. You want to be working in a well acoustified studio which is located in an area free of noise. You also want to make sure they don’t have mediocre equipment and are fairly priced within your budget range for booking. Research on good recording studios around you by word of mouth, recommendations, networking and online research. With the studio checked, net will be to choose a recording team that contains professionals capable of delivering the best recording possible. This team could range from a single “all round producer” to a team consisting of a composer, songwriter, record producer, mixing and mastering engineers. Choose your team carefully. Putting the right professionals together can make the difference between a poor composition and a commercial release.
While we are at it, it is important to stress the importance of having or hiring a record producer. This is a common practice with many record labels and major artists. From an artist point of view in most styles of music, a record producer’s role is to understand the artist’s vision and have the technical and musical ability to not only make it a reality but also to create some sort of continuity and consistency. A record producer orchestrates the flow of your recording, like the director of a movie orchestrates the action on a set, and makes critical decisions about your music. The also help to maintain good relationships between the engineer and others on the team, take a song to the final level, make sure the tracks are put down properly, and decides when it’s finished. He or she also needs a great ear and a sense of what’s currently trending in today’s music market.
With your team in place, you need to take into consideration good studio habits. Prepare properly before entering the studio. This saves time and money. It’s good to have a meeting with the songwriter, producer, artist and any others involved before the studio sessions. Let the producer orchestrate the planning. Decide on the types of sounds/instruments to use, the feel of the music and whether or not you will bring in session players. You or your artist should also rehearse properly before entering the studio. While in the studio, set rules and behaviors. Avoid friends and unnecessary people around. Let the record producer be in charge. Avoid consuming drugs that might slow down productivity. Be professional and respect the rules of the studio. Do not rush the engineers or suggest to much out of what they can do but always have an opinion if you feel something is not right. Remember you hired everyone based on competence.
All in all, whether an artist or a label, your primary goal is to release marketable and competitive products. Remember we live in a highly saturated and competitive industry. If you do not take proper measures in making sure your music is of marketable quality and is released appropriately, you might just get trapped in the web of never ending unsuccessful releases, which unfortunately is between 90% to 96% of all music released today. Whatever the situation, you have to believe in you art or artist and have a solid team that is competent and professional enough to make sure your music or artist is a success. We hope this guide would help you in building a plan on your next major release.