These days, being a music producer means so much more than it used to. In days gone by, the producer's job was to turn up at the studio, tell the artists what to do and get a good recording out of them, but nowadays it's taken on a whole new meaning, which gives us so much more baggage to deal with when it comes to our own music!
You're essentially responsible for everything when it comes to your own music; sourcing (or creating) artwork, promoting it, mixing and mastering, and of course - writing the music itself.
But what do you do once you've got the music written? What are the next steps?
Well, in this guide, we are going to focus on tips to help you plan your first music release, and give you some advice on how to prepare your music for a wider audience.
So let's jump in!
Set Your Goals
It isn't enough to just produce a track and then expect it to be heard by people. You need to go deeper than that.
You essentially have two options when it comes to releasing your music.
- Self-releasing. If you have a big enough social media following, you may not have to worry about pushing your music through a label. If you're in a position to release your music yourself onto your SoundCloud, Streaming services or Bandcamp, then this is the route you can go down.
- Label Release. The music industry is propped up by thousands of record labels, whether it is huge major labels or tiny bedroom indie labels. The point of these is, they come with a following, and can handle some of the promotion for you.
So, when you've got your music ready for a release, you need to decide whether you want to release it yourself, or whether you want to try and pitch it to labels.
If you're going to do the latter, there are some tips you need to know.
Always make sure you are pitching to appropriate labels.
Don't fall into the trap of just spamming your music to as many labels as you can find. Each label you send your music to needs to be one you've specifically chosen because you feel your music will fit in their catalogue.
A&R people at labels will be able to tell from a mile off whether you've done your homework or not, so do yourself a favour and only pitch to labels you've researched and you know would release your music. These folks will receive hundreds of submissions for their labels, so make yourself stand out.
After all, there's no point pitching your garage indie band's music to a techno label is there?
Have a Promotion Strategy
If you're expecting to just upload or release music onto the internet and have people flock to listen to it, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
A Promotion Strategy means having a schedule of when you will be posting about your release, leading up to the date the music actually comes out.
A successful release campaign can easily take up several weeks of planning, and then you want a release schedule to be giving you specific dates and times to post on your socials or otherwise promote your music.
But you need to be organised and creative. There are tonnes of music producers releasing music, and many of these will be just like you.
Find creative ways to bring your music to a potential audience. Offer it a day early to people who share your posts on their stories, play sneak peeks on live streams, or even invent a dance challenge.
These are all social media marketing strategies that you could use to get people to be aware of, and excited for, your music!
Other ideas for promotion are submitting your music to playlists and blogs to feature it on, and contacting any other influencers you know who may be interested in sharing your music.
The main point with this is that you can't just improvise; you need to be planning all of these strategies ahead of time to ensure you're maximising your promotion potential.
Consider the Waterfall Method
With the rise of streaming services and social media, people's attention spans are getting shorter, which has led to albums in turn becoming less popular, with EPs now being the most popular way to release music.
But there's a strategy called The Waterfall which ensures that your music is always going to be fresh and new to your listeners.
(Image Credit: EmuBands)
The idea behind the waterfall method is to gradually release the tracks of an EP until the entire release is made available with the last track's drop.
So, you release a new track every 3 to 4 weeks, timing things just as the previous single is at its peak popularity, or just starting to decline.
Using this strategy allows you to stay relevant, build your audience and eventually have an EP of tracks, rather than 3 or 4 separate single releases.
The technical bit behind why this works is because on streaming services, the more music you release, the more the algorithm will help you get exposure. Streaming revenue is a potentially huge income stream for an independent artist, so maximising this potential is super important.
The more content you post to the likes of Spotify, the more you'll qualify for their rewards programs.
What you don't want to happen is to fall out of your audience's attention, so keeping new music coming is a great way to ensure this as well. There are many artists who have been savvy enough to utilise this strategy and ride the wave of popularity right to the top.
You'll be getting higher impressions, meaning your music is heard by more people.
You can see detailed analytics for each track, seeing how the engagement has been and what tracks have been more successful.
Working with the algorithm rather than against it makes it more likely that you'll be picked up on the likes of Spotify's New Music Friday or Release Radar playlists.
Now, it's important to remember that this is a popular strategy of releasing music, so much so that there are over 20,000 songs released onto streaming services every single day.
This is why you need to be maximising your potential in your promotion strategies to really ensure your music is going to reach an audience
The streaming world has been dominated by playlists in recent years. The way we listen to music has changed from owning physical CDs and listening to albums, to then creating playlists of our favourite tracks on streaming services.
It was only a matter of time before business cottoned on, and now business playlists, or indeed, businesses dedicated entirely to creating playlists, have millions of subscribers across the various streaming services.
From this, we've seen several huge services crop up where you can submit your own music to get on curated playlists with followers in the thousands or even millions.
Spotify have their own in house playlist team, and you can submit for there via Spotify for Artists. There are similar options for other streaming services too.
But this is a hugely valuable thing to start doing as part of your release plans. Submit your music to as many relevant playlists as you can, and this could catapult your reach overnight.
It doesn't stop with the music
It should be obvious that in this day and age, you can't expect to get far with only your music.
So, think about things you can offer which will make your product more attractive to potential customers.
An obvious one in terms of promoting your music is making a music video.
This doesn't have to be anything overly fancy, because let's face it, we all have phones now which are capable of filming in 4K. So it's all down to how creative you can get with making some visuals to match your music.
You're always going to attract more attention - from both audiences and the dreaded algorithm - if you offer more products and promotion around your music.
So, hopefully you found these tips useful! There is a lot to get your head around when it comes to planning and releasing your music, and making sure you take the time to come up with a solid strategy is super important.
The more time you put into planning and preparing for your release, the more likely you are to see results and engagements from your audience when it drops.
So be sure to follow these tips!
As always, thanks for checking in with us here at Top Music Arts. We are dedicated to producing quality resources to help you in your journey to become a music producer, whether you're an absolute beginner or experienced, there's always something here for you.
Be sure to check out our Ableton Live Project Templates while you are here; you can grab great deals on these, and it will give you a solid idea of the quality your music needs to be to hold its own against the rest of the industry.
Check back soon for more music production related content!