I made a facebook post yesterday encouraging bands to slow down and be strategic about releasing their music. I had some further thoughts about this last night and I thought I should expand on it and put it out there as well.
Yesterday I posted this, which I thought was pretty basic, common sense stuff, but it connected with a lot of people (thank you for all the shares, it was awesome, I am stoked that people appreciated my words!). It made me realise that many bands aren’t really putting that much time into planning how to put their music out PROPERLY, merely thinking, “Well, I have the master now, I may as well start giving it to people!”.
I had another revelation last night and it is related to this – if you rush to release your music and just put it up on facebook and say “Here it is!”, with no hype or buildup, no release to media pre-making it available to them first to talk about it and help you hype it, no strategy or plan, it’s just out there for everyone to have, you really are treating your music as disposable – and my thoughts on that are that people will treat your music the way you treat it.
Now don’t get me wrong – I think that making your music readily available (free, in exchange for an email address or paid) on the internet through whatever channel you deem appropriate is an awesome idea – but don’t underestimate building some hype to your fans. (Obviously, this implies that you have some – and that’s a whole other blog on how to do that. (Here’s CDBaby’s thoughts on that in blog form, if you are keen for another read! – http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2009/07/the-secret-to-building-an-audience-on-the-web-be-interesting/)
Some people are better than others at multi-tasking, and a lot (not all, but a lot) of creators/creatives are generally not great at it. So give yourself the best shot at success and compartmentalise – i.e. do one thing at a time. Look, a couple of these things will happen concurrently, but keep the creative process apart from it and just finish the record first (and if you have management, these things will happen a lot quicker, but let’s assume you don’t have one of those.) While this is happening, keep people updated on what’s going on with the process through pictures, tweets, videos and updates on facebook, twitter, instagram and now maybe MySpace again!? All of the media servicing I reference in here can also be done by a publicist as well – which, if you don’t have a huge list of media folk to give your music to, is a wise investment.
- Record your album/EP, finish it. Don’t throw it up on Facebook. Choose a date about 10 months away to release the record.
- Organise getting the artwork done and the CDs printed.
- Plan a date about 4 months down the track to release a single.
- Organise distribution for the single – either through an online aggregator or a label or website like bandcamp or soundcloud.
- Now book a tour to promote the single just after the release date or around that time – key places and good rooms with other bands who will also bring numbers to your launch shows.
- 3 months out, write a press release that encompasses all the media you want to write about your single/interview you/feature you/review it. Include tour dates, a link to the music, a video clip if you have one and an interesting couple of paragraphs about what you do, what you have done, what the song is about etc.
- Put your single into AIRIT and jjj unearthed.
- Take the whole record to show some industry people – labels, managers, publicists, venue bookers.
- Pay for some advertising – Facebook, street press, community radio etc.
- Follow up with the media about getting those reviews, plays, features etc.
- Release the single via your medium – iTunes, bandcamp, CD at shows, whatever is your preference.
- Play the tour, blow minds, collect email addresses.
- Send fans an email thanking them for their support and let them know that the record will be released on the date you decided.
NOTE: your entire album isn’t out yet – you have it in your hands, but the cat isn’t out of the bag. You are still keeping your fans excited about it’s release.
14. Repeat the process but on a larger scale for the album.
I welcome any comments on whether people think this isn’t quite there or have different ideas (I know there are plenty of bands who prefer to not engage with media and industry and there is a whole other path for those bands that I don’t know about – would love to hear any bands with thoughts on that path too), but I think this process gives your record a longer life and a better chance of being more “anticipated” when it comes around. There is definitely a reason why it is called a “release cycle.”
Hope that helps and clarifies. 🙂