So, that’s it! After days, weeks, probably months of suffering and trying new things, arranging new songs in different ways, blood, sweat and tears, you’ve finally made it! Your next album or EP is ready for release! I’ve felt that excitement in the past, and even though we’d always want to go back and do some musical things differently, you and your band have already agreed on what seems to be a great point to finish the process and move on with the release, touring, millions in sales, and an endless flow of groupies… Err.. I might be daydreaming, anyway!
However, before all this utopian reality unfolds before your eyes, there are a few things that you need to get done before even thinking about making your record available, so with that in mind, I’ve decided to list what most bands are overlooking these days in order to remind you that things go well beyond the point of exporting your master copy.
1- Double check your Master.
If I had a dime for every recording I’ve received over the last few years in which there are clear editing errors, audio glitches attributed to a faulty plug-in, or flat out the wrong track altogether, I’d be living in my own island in the caribbean (albeit a small one, but still).
Always make sure to listen to your final master from start to finish, this is no small detail as this is the thing everybody else will listen to once you go ahead and push the red button. Make sure everything sounds aligned, that there are no errors, all the words come out the way you want them and so on… This is no time to be benign about it. If there is something wrong, it needs to get fixed and that’s that!
Once you’ve moved on and everything is in place, you can now proceed to submit it to all major services (More on this later).
2- Create Hype: Social Media is your friend!
Don’t wait until you have an album ready to open your social media sites. Having an empty Facebook page and posting on it is exactly like yelling loudly at the mirror when there’s nobody else around, sure it might be therapeutic, but it’s also pointless. Build up an audience, share the “making of” process, engage with fans by getting them to have some input about your content, ask them questions, even if unrelated to your music. Make it about them as much as about you! They’ll love it! create tension, expectative, upload teasers, use platforms like Snapchat or Instagram to let people know other angles of yourself and your band. The more you engage with fans, the easier it will be to release your music by the end of it! Don’t overlook this, please!
3- Cover all your bases before setting a release date.
So, you’ve been teasing your fans, your music is sounding good and things seem to be in pretty good shape, you might even be working on a new music video to go along your first single! Fantastic! However, do know that most major streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play…) have a strong window to check that the content you sent meets the guidelines and this will often run for about a month. Find a good publisher (Services like Tunecore, Mondotunes, CDBaby, Distrokid, etc…) and set a specific release date at least one month after your submission date. With this time you can then work on other extremely important things such as press coverage and other promotional methods. Which leads me to…
4- Get press coverage!
I know what you’re thinking… -But wait, I’m a new artist and I can’t get the press’ attention if my product isn’t out there!- And this might be true, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t reach out to the press to tell them that you’re ready to be covered! Being professional helps a lot here, make sure you sit down and write an accurate and informative press release, with info such as band members, links where your project can be found (THESE ARE CRUCIAL!), streaming links to listen to your tunes and so on. Then you can go two ways, find your niche and blogs and sites that are specialized on it, and send them professional emails enquiring about possible coverage.
Being professional is the key, avoid words such as “dude, bro, cool, stuff, etc…” Take yourself seriously if you want others to do the same. The second road is to invest in a PR agent. This is something I’d recommend every time, let those who know how to do it to handle your press and media coverage while you can concentrate on the important stuff. Either way will yield you results, but if you invest some money into it, the results will more likely be better because these agents have a reputation and could, sometimes, get you into bigger publications than the ones you could talk yourself into. In the end, why not try both?
5- Make sure your music is available EVERYWHERE!
Alright, we’re almost there! One last thing to know is that windowing is a concept that works wonders for audiovisual mediums, but it’s not recommendable for music artists. For one, it’s far more difficult to pirate a movie than it is to do so with an album (Not that either is mighty complicated these days but still…) so, please, make sure your music is available everywhere from day one, this is all major streaming services, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and even YouTube. You want people to be able to search for you anywhere and be able to find your music immediately after typing. Nobody likes 30 second audio clips, nobody likes to be forced to buy, and most people will likely buy it if they like it, or they might be compelled to come out to a show when you’re playing nearby. Ask for your fans’ support, but don’t be a salesperson about it. Like the great Curtis Dewar put it during an interview we had a while ago: “Don’t be a cheeseball about it…”
So, there you have it, now you know a little more about what needs to be taken care of before releasing an album. Make sure to have everything ready before you take on the endeavor, and as always, keep it musical!
Care about what I say? Follow me on Twitter @AlejandroPino
And in case you didn’t know, I host the Heavy Metal Geeks podcast, in which we talk about the DIY music industry specialized for Metal bands. Check it out here!