Oh how far we’ve come. I’ve learned a lot guys, mostly the hard way, but I’m proud of our journey as a band and as individuals! Lessons should be shared so here is my advice, take it or leave it
1- WRITE AN EPIC ALBUM
Choose your 5-8 strongest songs, and give them your all!
If you are a band go with the songs that you feel are the strongest, the crowd favs that the band loves to play.
If you are a solo artist I recommend you challenge yourself by digging in and trying to write all the parts of the songs by using a keyboard, this can help your band, session artists or producer really help you create what you are looking for.
2- FIND THE PERFECT PRODUCER/ENGINEER
Producer: Helps arrange and create the songs, turning acoustic songs into full band songs, or writing synth parts ect. May or may not also engineer.
Engineer: Will record you but will not add in any parts that you did not bring to the table.
Find a producer /engineer who get’s your vibe.
Tell them what bands and artists you like and ask them if they like them too. I recommend you hire them based on their past work, and personality. You should try doing one song with them first, before you commit to the entire album, to see if you two work well together as a team.
Here are some of my favourite studio’s and cool engineers I have met over the yearsSpencer Carson – Fader Mountain Bobby Hobart – Nimbus /Greenhouse Jordan Koop – Noise Floor
3- PRE PRO
Before you head into the studio make sure your band knows these songs inside and out. If you don’t have a band, ask around and find some talented session players who can play the parts live for you on the album. The studio you are using may have some recommendations.
Session musicians: Amazing professional musicians who are so good they play on albums for a living; they will charge to play on your album, but are really worth it for the professionalism them bring to the table.
Here are some awesome session artists I have worked with over the years when my band hasn’t been available!Simon Kendall – Piano Tim Proznick – Drums Lonny Eagleton – Guitar
4 – POST RECORDING – MIXING & MASTERING
Mixing: Mixing all the tracks together for the perfect combination, this also includes adding effects to vocals, choosing left and right inputs and more
Mastering: The last step, this will make your entire album be the same volume and vibe, as well as making it radio friendly.
If you don’t want to spend the time learning how to mix, your producer or engineer should be happy to do this for you, make sure you discuss this before you begin your project as mixing is not always included in the deal and can take a lot of extra time and effort on the producer/engineers behalf. You can also bring your album “stems” to another person to mix.
Personally I taught myself how to mix, It’s a very personal process so I would recommend it to any artist who is very serious about their sound.
Once your album is mixed you will then have to get it mastered, mastering typically costs between $50-$1500 a song, some mastering companies offer album or group discounts.
I recommend Brock at CPS Mastering he is fast, affordable and an all around great guy.
When you get your album mastered you will be given a IRSC code for each song, make sure to keep track of these codes and upload them into your Socan Account, this is how you will be credited for your songs should they be played on air, or TV.
5- THE HARD COPY RELEASE
Once you have your album mastered you are ready to get some hard copies made! Be sure to shop around for the best price, and quality. I also recommend Duplication vs Replication.
Duplication: is the act of creating an CD by imbedding the tracks into them, it’s higher quality and will be printed in larger numbers with better graphics.
Replicating is simply burning a CD from a computer onto a blank disc and is not as high of quality but can be done in small batches, typically with less high def graphics.
Have a graphic designer help you design the CD cover to ensure they look professional.
Also make sure you have your CD’s in hand before you set a date for the release party as these companies are notorious for being late and forgetting about orders.
6- THE RELEASE PARTY
Once you have received your CD’s in the mail it is time to start planning your release party! Print posters, alert your fans, the press, media and more. You can e-mail local newspapers with the show details, show poster and a press release.
Find some other bands to open the night for you and have them promote the event as well.
This is a great opportunity to sell CD’s Merch and have people sign up for your mailing list.
7- THE DIGITAL RELEASE
Before your release party you will need to look into releasing your album online as an independent artist. There are many ways to get your album online but I recommend reading this article to help you find what way is the best way for you.
I personally went with CD baby, and for $60 a year you can have them digitally distribute your album across all platforms globally including itunes.
Make sure you do this two weeks before your release party because it takes 7-10 days for your music to be approved and go live for distribution.
Don’t forget to also set your personal website up for selling CD’s under your merch, you will have friends, family and fans who would love to purchase a hard copy so make it easy for them!
You can buy the Queen of Mars album hard copy here!
8 – KEEPING MOMENTUM
It would be great to have a couple of shows or a mini tour planned after your big release, this will give you a chance to sell more CD’s and give your fans something else to look forward to!
9- MAKING IT COUNT
Once you have released your album digitally and in person it’s time to start sending it out to the world. This part takes time but is what it’s all about in the long run. Begin creating package for radio stations, licensing companies, record labels and management you are interested in working with.
For each recipient send a small package that includes a personalized CD, a letter with a call to action, a press release of the album and something “fun”.
10 – REPEAT
Take what you have learned and do it all over again! Remember practice makes perfect, Neil Young released over 40 albums in his career, releasing 1-2 a year for over 30 years!
So get writing, share your wonderful music, don’t get too wrapped up in the business side of things and have fun!
11 – BONUS ADVICE
Make sure you consider signing contracts or agreements between the producer/engineer/artists/band and that everyone is on the same page as far as percents and writing credits go. Some producers will want to take a percent if they are writing any music parts, or arranging your songs however typically the songwriter (melody/lyrics) will own 75%-100%. Once your album is completed be sure to update your Socan Information with the new songs!
The first thing to think of when releasing an independant album