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Thread October 10, 2015 editorial: comments

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1 October 10, 2015 editorial: comments

Putting the Spin on Your Album

Releasing a record isn’t as prestigious as it once was. Thanks to home recording studios and the availability of worldwide distribution for about $50 a year, it seems like everyone has an album out these days. You no longer need the blessing of a record label to get into the game.

It’s an empowering trend for musicians, for sure, but there’s a lot more to putting out an album than just production and distribution. A consequence of the democratization of the record industry is that the haystack has grown exponentially, but the needle has not followed suit. Without a label to provide PR and marketing, how will anyone know about your album? Yes, you can use social media and other internet resources, but do you have a plan for doing so?

We all get excited, and rightly so, when we’re in the process of recording an album, but to get any tangible results after the album is released, you need a business plan, and a goal for what you’re attempting to achieve.

Are you trying to “make it big,” commercially, or simply using the album as a calling card for getting gigs and as a merch item to sell at your shows? Maybe you’re trying to do both? Are you going to have CDs made, or maybe even vinyl, or are you just going to sell it digitally? Do you plan to submit it to music blogs and radio stations?

This subject is on my mind, in part, because I’ve been working on an instrumental album for a couple of years, and it’s finally just about ready. I’m realizing that I’ve been so focused on finishing the mixes that I haven’t really thought much about how I’m going to market it, and even what my overall goal is.

Another reason for bringing up this topic is a story we just published called Get the Most from Your Album Release. It offers a timeline for releasing your record and recommends a series of marketing and business-related steps to take, starting from about a year out and continuing through the release and even after. (I wish I’d read it about a year ago.) It’s very informative, and if you’re working on an album or thinking about doing so, I recommend it highly.

What have your experiences been with self-released albums? Have you released one? Was it worth the time and expense you put into it?

2
I have self-released three albums, two where social and local. You could call it the friends and family releases, we did another one in 2012, brought it to record stores personally, it never got much attention.

Personally, the experiences with recording the materials and getting better at mixing were invaluable. To get things commercially done is a different ball game. While people are turning to the internet and all its possibilities I thought it would be better to get your analogue game up to par. I played some bars last year and tried to focus on delivering the music, no matter what the music was: if we liked a song and could engage in it, we would play it.

I think there is an absolute over-focus on getting results with the public, maybe social media would just do the work for you if you get your manifesto straight. The CPU's are getting faster, there are endless options to mold a sound. It could be anybody's game I think. Thanks for putting this on and I will surely examine the things you have been putting out on this subject.
3
I released an instrumental album in 2009 called Moonsea. To date I have made little over £200 (I think that's around $300) from it. This has mostly come via SoundExchange from being on Pandora radio in the US, with a little from CD Baby and some from Amazon.

It certainly hasn't been worth it in financial terms considering the money spent on studio gear and the amount of time spent making it. To be fair I haven't been great at the promo side - a little social media here and there, and trying to get the odd review. This, I suspect is the case for most home musicians - the promo is the job they probably hate the most and so avoid.

I've come to the conclusion of late that the "traditional" route of PRO's, and so called online distribution services etc. are of little help in getting your music out there, especially if you're not a performing musician. The way forward I think is Royalty Free, whereby you allow people to use your music under a Creative Commons licence, where it's free if they credit you and if they can't (say in an ad or something), then they negotiate a licence with you. The hope is that you might get enough reputation from the free stuff that you get paid commisions and paid licences from commercial use where artist credit is not appropriate.

So far this has proved better at getting my music "out there" and is looking comparable financially. The dream of making riches from music, I'm sure for most of us, is long passed. But the vaguely conceivable possibility of making enough from it to do what you love full-time (i.e. making a living), I think is more likely via the royalty-free route.

4
I released a CD a while ago and it was musically worth it but financially a disaster.
There is no money in recorded music. For starters there is just too much stuff out there online and on other media for free. Sound quality isn't a big issue with a lot of people and are happy with earplugs in a smart phone!
The only way to earn is live gigs and maybe sell the odd CD or vinyl if your lucky.
Technology has democratised music but it has also ruined it for recorded stuff. The only studios left are the mega boys who record orchestras and film music. Even that is under attack with life like samples.
Music now is a labour of love!!! Don't give up your day job.
5
All I can say is that my two ill-fated sojourns into trying to "self-publish" ended in unmitigated disasters. Still recovering from a whole lot of time spent and energy wasted. Now, I just stick to the local music-playing scene. It seems that my hair has stopped falling out. <lol>
6
Quote:
The hope is that you might get enough reputation from the free stuff that you get paid commisions and paid licences from commercial use where artist credit is not appropriate.

That's an interesting approach. How do you get people to find your music? It always seems to come down to marketing, which is difficult for many of us creative types.
7
Quote:
a labour of love!!! Don't give up your day job.

I would agree that at this point in time, it's easier to pursue music as a sideline rather than a main career. As someone who has done both, I see a lot of advantages to not relying on music as your sole income. You can pick and choose your gigs instead of having to take everything that comes your way, and you will likely have a higher standard of living. On the down side, if you're working a day job, it's harder to devote the time necessary to advance your music career.
8
Quote:
Thanks for putting this on and I will surely examine the things you have been putting out on this subject.

Thanks, and good luck!
9
Quote:
Now, I just stick to the local music-playing scene. It seems that my hair has stopped falling out. <lol>

Hair preservation is always a good thing.:-D
10
Quote from Mike:
That's an interesting approach. How do you get people to find your music? It always seems to come down to marketing, which is difficult for many of us creative types.


One way is through my own site <shameless plug>jelsonic.com</shameless plug>, though probably more so from the Free Music Archive site. Yes you're right about the marketing - which is still an issue, but if people start to use your stuff in their projects, then they're actually doing some of your marketing for you (if they're credited you as per creative commons licence stipulation).

Kevin MacLeod makes a good living from his music via his site incompetech.com - of course he's been doing it for ages and it does help that he comes top in Google for searches on "royalty free music" ;)