As a music producer, I’ve had the great pleasure of being a part of many album releases. It’s always so exciting sending new songs out into the world and seeing how the general base of music listeners react to it. However, on the business side I’ve learned that this excitement can quickly fade if a record is a flop. I want to save you from that frustration and it’s better to plan ahead than to try and play doctor with an album that’s already been released. So here are 7 steps you need to take before your next album release!
#1: Get Organized
If you want to create an album that is a commercial success and stands the test of time you’re going to need to know all the pieces that need to come together to make that happen. While you can just haphazardly create a project and drop it, if you want results there are many considerations you must make. Here are a few important ones to consider:
- How are the most important assets (sessions, renders, graphic assets, etc.) being stored? I recommend Dropbox Premium installed on an external hard drive.
- How much has been spent (and is being spent) on the project? Is there a budget to allocate resources? Use accounting software like Wave.
- Why has the release date been chosen? How and when will it be promoted?
- Who is involved in the projects (songwriters, performers, engineers, producers, managers, labels, lawyers, etc.)? Are the songwriting splits, royalty structure, and other important terms in writing?
#2: Record More Than You Need
Not every song you write should make it on an album. In fact, as much as you can afford to, record as much as possible. I recommend doing as much of this as possible in professional recording studios and making sure that you have a cloud-backup copy of all your stems for each song. It’s okay to get rough mixes at first, but remember that your goal is to create the best project possible. There is a significant degree of entrepreneurial risk involved in creating an album, but if you want your record to stick, quality is key. The more you have to work with the better.
Many of the most successful artists are known for having massively large catalogs of music that are not released. There are a couple key reasons for this:
- When it’s time to release a record, there is more opportunity to decide on the best tracks for the project.
- There is a large vault of songs that can be used as a buffer should there be an untimely dip in creative output. I.e. it will help you a lot recording the next album.
- Many of the most successful artists are known for “leaks”. Having a large catalog means that it’s okay if a few tracks leak through the cracks during your album creation process. In fact, it could even be a benefit as this sort of “accident” (or perhaps guerilla marketing) has generated enormous buzz for plenty of artists before.
By recording more songs more frequently, you establish yourself as a creative force in the industry and you reap incredible benefits when it comes time to actually record that release the public is anticipating.
#3: Invest in Quality Beats, Recording, and Mixing
Engineering is the fulcrum that separates what sounds professional from what sounds amateur. One of the most controversial things I’ve been known to say is that casual listeners care more about artists than producers and engineers. I still stand by that; the artist is the draw that gets listeners engaged. Still, great artists require great engineering and production.
The quality of your beats (if you’re in a genre that uses beats) and the quality of your engineering will be a large part of what shows your seriousness to listeners. It will come across to listeners whether or not you take your artistry seriously very quickly based on how professional the overall recording is. If you believe in your music, you owe it to yourself to invest in pro sound.
#4: Hire a Real Mastering Engineer
Mastering is the last stage of the process that will determine just how professional your work really sounds to listeners. A great mastering engineer is more than just their technical work. A great mastering engineer will bring an experienced set of ears that can identify where even the most miniscule adjustments in the frequencies, dynamics, or even saturation of the song could make or break it. If you want your song to sound clear, defined, and loud on each platform, invest in quality mastering services.
#5: Network, Network, Network!
Okay, so now we’ve gotten the actual project creation side of the equation out of the way — now it’s time to talk about marketing. Now, I know some artists are naturally introverted or struggle with communication in general. Still, the ability to network is a skill that is definitely worth developing. At the end of the day, remember that networking is all about people.
Make a connection. While your new album is super important to you, remember that it really isn’t all that important to a stranger. Develop a genuine connection and then people will be interested in your music as well!
#6: Stand on Top of a Tree and Shout!
There is an ancient proverb that says, “The one who has a thing to sell and goes and whispers in a well is not so apt to get the dollars as the one who stands on top of a tree and shouts.” This may seem to be the opposite of step #5. However, it is possible to integrate both of these methods. Make people aware of your work as much as possible, but don’t sacrifice real connections.
Promoting and advertising must work hand-in-hand with networking. Make connections with fans as well as others in the industry and find creative ways to get your content in front of the general public. If you have real value to add, nobody will mind you shouting from the top of a tree about it.
#7: Commit to Patience and Persistence
It takes time to do anything in this industry. If you don’t have the passion that allows you to be patient and persistent, you won’t last. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve taken a loss and just sat their scratching my head as a migraine begins to set in. Still, passion has kept me going all this time.
I know that if you have the passion, you will have the power to be patient and persistent. And then the results will come. Be willing to continue doing the hard work to make results happen even when you don’t immediately see the results!