So you just spent plenty of time and money in the studio recording great original music that everyone is going to absolutely LOVE, buuuuuuut now what? What’s the next step? Now is the time to really buckle down and make sure your business is in order. How are you going to get your music out there? (Click Here for Marketing Tips/Techniques) What tracks are you going to promote as singles? (need help let me know!) How do you copyright your music? How do you register your music so that you can track it when it hits the radio? What are some dope venues that book artists? Do you look for a manager? What should you spend your money on? Lets iron some things out…
First off, lets start with the music.
Examine the album and make sure it’s exactly how you want it.
- Does every track have a dope concept? Catchy hook?
- Really listen to it closely, are your verses on point? or do you hear some tiny mistakes?
- Do you have at least three tracks that you can promote as singles that will make everyone hype about your album?
- Do your lyrics really show who you are, or are you using a lot of basic fillers? (by basic fillers I mean: you were almost done your track but needed a few more bars so you just said anything to fill it in)
Sometimes you swear you’re done, but then once you review everything you realize that you might have a few kinks to work out – don’t be lazy, make sure you correct whatever you feel needs to be corrected. If it’s not where you want it to be, go back in on it and work until you get it to 110%. In the end it’s all about the music, so you don’t want to move any further until it’s as close to perfect as you can get it. You’re about to spend time and money getting it out there so you want to make sure you’re not wasting your time. This is your career on the line here, not something to play with!
TEST OUT YOUR RECORDS! It’s pretty rare that artists do this, and it saddens me. Before you release records to the public, allow a select few others to hear it. Write down a list of 25 people (can be a mix of friends + family members, but you should also include a few others outside of your circle that you know will give you their honest opinion). Either have a listening party or a private studio session where you invite special guests to take a listen, or if you don’t want to do that then at least get everyone’s email address and send out a few tracks for them to preview. Be sure to let everyone know that this is a special release before you make the actual release. You might also want to hit a few open mics and do some special performances to make sure that your record catches the crowd. If you know any DJ’s (which you should really try to get to know some) you might be able to get them to spin your record at one of their events/venues so that you can see the crowds reaction. This will not only allow you to get opinions on your new music, but it will build up the hype around your release.
Before you start to promote, you must examine your presentation. Your presentation must be as professional as possible. This will not only help you to promote better, but it will get you a much better response once you do start to promote. Think about it: once you release music and put some heavy promo behind it, when people search for you, you want to make sure that you capture their attention and show them that you are the real deal. Ask yourself the following questions and be sure to get everything in order:
- Do you have a website with bio, music + videos, photos, gigs etc?
- Are all of your social networks updated and being utilized properly?
- Do you have a mailing list?
- Do you have any merchandise that represents your brand?
- Do you have business cards to hand out at your shows?
Once your music and presentation is up to par, now it’s time to get it heard. Of course before you decide to release your music it’s best to get it copyrighted. Check out this dope blog by my girls over at xxiiiv.com, it does a great job at explaining copyrights: (Copyright Basics).
Once you are ready to copyright your music you can do so online here: http://www.copyright.gov/eco/
Promotion, promotion….PROMOTION!! What good is it to have great music if no one hears it?
There are some great resources out there to help with promoting your music. You need to get your music on some dope music blogs and you should also put a small budget aside for other promotional services. I actually have plenty of great promo services for you to utilize, feel free to shoot me an email and lets talk about it: firstname.lastname@example.org
Performing is a major part of promotion. You need to line up performances: whether its an open mic, a party, a college event, a competition or your own show; whether the performance is 10 minutes long or a whole hour set – YOU NEED TO BOOK SHOWS. You don’t have to get paid but you have to perform. You can also check out this website (http://www.indieonthemove.com/) to find a list of venues + booking info from all different cities.
Now it’s time to also think about getting some radio spins. However, before you do this you MUST register your music so that it can be tracked. Tracking sales and spins of your music with SoundScan and BDS is extremely important. If you are not tracking your spins with BDS how are you going to know where your fans are? If you are not tracking sales with SoundScan how are you going to know what is working and what is not working?
* BDS – Broadcast Data Systems. This is how you track how many spins you are getting on the radio. REGISTER HERE: http://nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/public%20factsheets/Soundscan/How-to-Submit-Music-to-Nielsen-BDS.pdf
* SoundScan – This is how you can track your actual sales online, in retail, and at venues. REGISTER HERE: http://titlereg.soundscan.com/soundscantitlereg/
Now is a great time to think about selling your music online. It’s always cool to give away free downloads of your music in the beginning of your career (usually in your ‘mixtape phase’) so that people can get to know your sound, but there comes a time when your buzz starts to grow and you are creating dope singles/EPs and it’s time to start earning money from your music.
Check out this blog post by Paul Porter (@industryears) that has great information on outlets to sell your music online: http://raprehab.com/2011/12/selling-your-music-online/
Get your music to our speakers! Online streaming, itunes, amazon, etc. Hit up your local media outlets. Do interviews, make special guest appearances, set up a speaker on a corner and rock out, just get your music heard LOUD AND CLEAR.
If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, it might be a good idea to figure out if it’s time to hire a manager. Check out my blog “Do You Really Need A Manager” to help you with your decision. I will say that if you still feel you can do everything on your own without taking time away from your music, continue to do so as long as you can. Usually a manager will look for you once you are making a nice impression so you might want to continue working and eventually you will start to get attention from managers.
Everyone’s situation is different, but these are some basic steps that everyone needs to take. You have to remember to always examine your current situation. I do this at least once a week. Lay everything out on the table. See what you currently have in place and make sure it is working. Figure out what you lack, and know what you’re great at. Do as much as you can by yourself. Utilize your network and build your buzz up a bit, teach yourself the business before you try to reach out to managers, publicists etc. Prove to everyone that you are a hard working, dedicated artist before you try to hire a whole team to do things for you. The more you learn the more you earn. I hope this article was able to put a few things into perspective for you. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me! =)
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