Often, whenever an unready indie musician approaches me about possible music promotion, they say things like “You must hear this amazing song that I made” or “I am ready to explode onto the scene” or worse yet “I have created something no one has ever heard before!”
Look, I get the enthusiasm, I really do, but the on-the-surface excitement felt by a musician hyped on their own new music must be scaled back a bit, in-order to see the whole picture that is.
There are always going to be those who rush to the finish line, those who think that paying their dues, or putting in the effort do not apply to them; but, they apply to almost everyone, and how you craft your song is one part creative, one part skill, and another part industry rules.
It is great to have enthusiasm and confidence, but let’s focus on the music here.
So, without further ado, here are seven great ways to tell if your song is ready to release.
ONE: DID YOU HAVE IT PROFESSIONALLY RECORDED IN THE FIRST PLACE?
With today’s incredible technology at your fingertips, what used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars can now be achieved with a great computer and some software…of course, I am only speaking about the ability to record the music, this advancement is not enough to take over the great ears of an actual music producer or sound engineer.
As an independent musician, your funds will most likely be a little, how should I say it? Slightly non-existent. This might stop you from landing the industry’s big wigs to work with, but it shouldn’t stop you from finding someone who truly loves to record, and has the gear to do it properly; because recording it yourself, without any real skill or understanding in what the recording process takes, is not a good idea, at all.
This one tip should take out the need for the next one, but no matter what, you still need to focus on quality control, no matter who touches your music.
TWO: DOES YOUR SONG SOUND GREAT ON HEADPHONES, IN THE CAR, AND ON YOUR STEREO SPEAKERS?
This might seem like an obvious one, but you would be surprised at how many musicians play their music off one source and then release it to the world. The fact is, you need to test your track on multiple different platforms to get the data necessary to know how your song really sounds.
You cannot listen to anything on one device and hear it for what it is, there is simply not enough information to go off here. So, listen to it on your computer speakers, pull out those twenty-dollar headphones, and crank it in your car. If you are pleased with the results across the board, then you have succeeded in your quality control.
Of course, your opinion will always be slightly skewed when it comes to your own music, so make sure that you bring a couple of trusted friends along for the ride, and make sure they are the type of real friends that will tell you if the song is weak in any areas.
THREE. COULD YOU HAVE MADE THE SONG ANY BETTER?
It is exciting to release new art to the world, and with the average internet user demanding instant recognition for their greatness, it is easy to fall victim to a premature shot being fired. Relax, you have time, this isn’t a race to the finish, it is a journey, and you should treat it as a gift to be able to discover your own artistic vision, on your own terms, and on your own time. Many authors will tell you that their book is done when the story has reached its logical end, and your music should not be any different. When you have wandered the peaks and valleys of your own mind, your own heart, and within the song itself, only then will you have something that you should be willing to stand behind. I have always said that “I move you, because I move myself first”. This ideology comes from my own belief, that your art and your music must make you feel something, before it can possibly make someone else feel something as well.
Make sure that your song captures both the emotion and the story that you are trying to tell, and make sure to take your time with it. Write the first draft, let it breathe, come back and add more, let it breathe even more. Pay attention to the evolution of the song, if it was a heart rate monitor, does it have a pulse and a life like a heartbeat, or is the song a bit of a flatline?
I know, this is all a bit philosophical, but I wouldn’t mention it if I didn’t truly stand behind it.
I have heard many songs that sound like they were afraid to go emotionally deeper, songs that gave you their tricks right out of the gate, and by the end of the song you felt like you just listened to the same loop for over three minutes straight. Yes, if you want to come in like a bullet, do it, but only if that is the point of the song in the first place.
Make that song shine, the best that you can. Make it a journey (Think TOOL, RISHLOO, Tom Petty, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Smashing Pumpkins, “Early” Metallica, and so on). Each of these musicians created powerful music by refining their songs before we ever had a chance to hear them.
Want to be great? Don’t rush the song out.
If you think you can make the song better, then you must make It better, anything less is an insult to your own artistic self.
FOUR: HAVE YOU HAD A LISTENING PARTY?
You do not need anyone’s opinion as to whether your music is good enough or not…well, that’s a half truth.
The real-truth is, you want people to listen to your music, right? You want them to pony up their hard-earned money to fund your career in music, right?
Of course, you do. So why is it taboo to consider the opinions of your listeners when it comes to the finished product of your song? Perhaps, it is because it is considered a dilution of the artist’s original intention, and that makes sense, but we are not talking about listening to every opinion, just the ones that keep reoccurring in regards to specific areas of your song.
So, what areas should you be open to considering when having your listening party?
Does the song sound complete to your audience?
Does anything stand out in a negative way? Perhaps vocals that are too low, drums that are too loud, or something else that is technically distracting?
What you want from your immediate listeners is the direct feedback of their experience, because they are your audience, and they will help you create something that they will buy and share, and that is how you will avoid creating something that only impresses you.
Be open-minded about the experience, show a varied group of people, with one similarity, they at the very least, like your genre of music. If you make country music and your friend loves only metal, then you might want to consider leaving that friend out. You will need to bring in the sort of people that have a trained ear for your style of music, and that way, you will get the best possible feedback that you can.
FIVE: DOES YOUR SONG HAVE AN IMAGE?
Music is always paired best with great imagery.
You will want to consider the entire project when thinking about the artwork for your song. Eventually, you will be releasing an EP or LP, and for the most part, you will want all the artwork to compliment each other in the end.
Find yourself a great artist to collaborate with, let them hear your song and then discuss if they believe they can compliment your music with their art.
Perhaps, you come across an image from a photographer that speaks to you and captures the essence of the song, if so, contact that photographer and make the handshake happen.
No matter how you go about finding an artist, or creating your own imagery to pair with your song, you must make that decision before you ever release your track.
People will always judge a book by it’s cover, and your song will be judged just the same, trust me.
SIX: YOUR PRESS RELEASE IS READY!
This one doesn’t need too much explanation, but just to be on the safe side here, I will dig in further.
Musicians today are succeeding more and more through their online efforts, and when it comes to promoting your music online, it must be done with a proper, professional, Press Release. Anything less than that and your outreach is dead in the water.
There are many great articles and services to help you build your own if you do not know where to start (there is a chapter in my book From Indie To Empire that specifically deals with this), but no matter which source you use to get your information, make sure that it is up-to-date, and industry standard.
If you do this, you will succeed far more often in your own musical PR efforts.
SEVEN: DO YOU HAVE A MARKETING PLAN READY?
Now that you have all the necessary pieces in place; a song that has undeniable emotional impact, that is professionally recorded, has passed your own quality control, impressed your intended audience, and has incredible imagery selected to pair with it, now that you have your professional, industry ready, Press Release; now you are set to market it properly and effectively.
Where to start?
Who get’s the premiere? That’s where.
Marketing your music is easily a book’s worth of information (I should know, I wrote a book on it), so I am not going to try to dive in too deep here with all the potential possibilities, but I will say that you do not want to blow your premiere opportunity. You get one chance to release your song the first time, and because of this, you will want to figure out who you want to approach about premiering it.
You will want to make sure that your social media is set up and ready to share this premiere opportunity, and you will want to have an idea of where you will be sending those Press Releases to.
Once you have sat down and written out a solid plan of marketing attack, and once you have your premiere date set up, you will be ready to take over the online airwaves with both confidence and clarity!
About The Author: Ryan Donnelly is the Founder of Empire Music Promotions and the Author of “From Indie To Empire-The Only DIY Music Marketing Tool Needed For Today’s Indie Musicians
Empire Music Promotions (www.empiremusicpromotions.com) offers result based campaigns aimed at helping you build your own musical empire. Submit your music today!
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