“What do I do once I record my music?” This is the essential question I get asked a lot because most of the musicians I am usually working with are newer to the music industry.
Even my experienced musicians do not have lot of time to look into all the next steps, because they are busy making music.
I decided to put all of the experience that I have gained in regards to this question here in one blog post, so that it can be a helpful reference for all of my musician friends.
This is not an exhaustive list of tools. There are a million versions of a lot of these companies and tools, but I primarily want to tell you about the ones I have used over the years of releasing music myself.
MANAGING YOUR FILES:
The first thing that needs to happen when you finish a song in a recording studio is to organize your files. It might be surprising that you may need a few different versions on hand for later use. You won’t always need these, but it is completely reasonable to ask your mixing engineer to provide these for you.
- Master: This is the final mastered version of your song/songs: WAV & MP3
- Instrumental: This is a version of your song with no vocals.
- A Capella: Only vocals
- TV Mix: This is a mix without the lead vocals. It has background vocals but no lead vocals. If you were going to sing with a backing track live somewhere this would be a good one to use.
- Mix Multi-Tracks: This is a folder with all of the single files that would have been sent to the mix engineer.
- Stems: These are subgroups of your mix. Like drums, bass, guitars, synths, etc. You never know how you could use these in the future.
Google has a lot of really great tools. From email to file sharing, it is all there. The business version ($5/month) allows you to have specific branded email, like email@example.com. Even for free, you could easily have your website or name like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Either way, it is a great start. That immediately boosts your professionalism in other’s eyes.
Many musicians feel like getting your music on services like Spotify is some kind of vague mystery and a difficult process. The truth is that many online distribution companies can get your music into all of the digital stores.
The one that I know from personal use is Catapult Distribution. For a one-time fee of $9, you can submit your single to iTunes and all the other digital stores. It is only $20 to submit a full album as well. (Pandora is only store with a little different and requires an extra step.)
Every company that does this takes a cut of the sales, but this is the cost of entry. You can do research to find out what model each distribution company follows, but the reason I like Catapult is that there is a one-time fee for a submission and then they take 9%. That’s it.
Going with an online distributor like this would get your music into:
- Apple Music
- Google Play
OTHER ONLINE PLACES TO SHARE YOUR MUSIC:
It is important to understand that people will need to listen to your music first before they pay for your music. So to make it easy for them to listen to your music, there are a few other places where fans focus their attention.
YouTube: With your Google account, you will also have access to a YouTube channel under your brand. You should create a video for each song you release. These do not need to be as complicated as a lyric video. Just a simple picture of the album artwork with the song behind it would be a great start. YouTube is the second largest search engine (Google is obviously number 1), so you need to be here.
Soundcloud: Soundcloud is beneficial because it is an easy way for you to have fans listen to your music. It is also cool because people will leave comments at different parts of each track. This allows you to easily comment back and engage with them.
There are a number of other places, but I’m trying to stick with ones that I know and with which I have experience.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A FUNCTIONAL WEBSITE:
Along with releasing music, you should have a website. Here at One Fifty Media House, we have fallen in love with Squarespace. Our One Fifty Home website, our wedding website, and this audio website are all Squarespace sites. They make it really easy to get a professional, modern website off the ground with little experience and no coding necessary. It is not the only platform, but for as little as $99 a year, it is a no brainer for me.
James Garland is a new country artist that we worked with recently, and we set him up with a single landing page where he can stream the single we released and have people sign up for his email list.
Yes, social media is important, but having a place that you own is critical. Remember Myspace? Back in the day we would have never thought it would go away, but it did.
The same thing will happen with most of these social networks someday. Leverage their power and get people back to your site that you own.
The purpose of your website (as well as social media platforms like Facebook) should be to start a relationship with your fans. The most popular way to gain access to a fan is to ask for their email address.
Give them something of value in return for an email address. When it comes to sales, research says that email is still more effective, by far, than facebook or twitter or any other social network. Those things aren’t unimportant, but email is still the primary tool to get to your fans attention. Give them reason to follow you. Earn that trust.
THE NEW MUSIC CYCLE: KEEP PRODUCING CONTENT
Once you release your music, do not just sit back and hope people find you. They won’t. You need to work hard and start telling others about your music and brainstorm ideas to keep the content coming. Most new music comes and goes, but the typical goal is that there would be momentum for 9 months. Below are some ideas to keep the train moving.
- Play as many live shows (big and small) as you can to meet fans and share your music
- Release a live recording of your music
- Release remixes of your music
- Record acoustic versions of your songs
- Release covers of popular songs that are out now and post them to YouTube
Those are just a few ideas, but the point is that you have to keep making interesting content. It doesn’t end with the day your album or single hits iTunes.
FINAL THINGS TO CONSIDER:
BANDS IN TOWN: If you are playing live, which most people should to build a fan base, you should sign up for a service like Bands In Town. This will start posting your live shows in multiple different places and alert potential fans when you are playing next.
ONLINE RADIO: Depending on your genre, there are a lot of potential opportunities to have online radio stations pick up your song. Use Google to do a search and track down a list of stations that make sense in your genre and start to reach out. And don’t be pushy or salesy.
LASTPASS: When you start signing up for all of these services, it can get confusing to keep track of all of your online passwords. My family and I have been using Lastpass for about a year now, and I love it. You create separate passwords that are all stored with one master password. When you sign in to your account and you open a web browser, all the passwords for each site are saved and auto-populates as you go to sign in. Pretty cool. It has a paid version, but we only use the free version. You can’t beat a free tool that saves time and keeps you safe.
COPYRIGHT: Getting a copyright for your music is important. It can definitely go on the backburner for a little while, but I do suggest doing this step at some point. To submit one song or a whole album of work cost the same ($35). So if you have a body of work that you can submit at one time is usually a better deal. Musicians can go to the Government Site and set up a an account and follow the instructions.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Everything stated above is written with a massive assumption. That assumption is that your music is quality. Not that it’s ‘perfect’, but that it has been taken very seriously from the beginning.
You can have the best marketing and online presence but if your music stinks, you will never win. Find the right producer and audio engineer for your music and make that your starting point.
I hope this advice will help you out or at least set you on the right path. What questions about this process do you have? Post a comment below.