by: Jim Thorpe - DVT Entertainment
This Band 101 topic we are going to explore effective ways to release your music in 2016. We did this topic about 2yrs ago but things have changed the way people access to music from streaming, mp3, youtube, radio, vinyl, pirate, crowd fund, commercials, movies etc.? How do we reach new fans Who would be interested in my music? So we are going attack this topics and hopefully give you insight that will help you along the way.
Today I think a lot of artists do not plan there music releases properly or even effectively.
We live in an a short attention span world, so for a artist trying to gain momentum with their music its extremely tough. The say its a DIY world with the ever dying labels, but my opinion is that now its even harder to achieve success because like you, there are millions of artists doing the same thing you are. Small Fish in a Huge Ocean.
Depending on your goals, you should always put out the best possible music that represents you the artist. The way people listen to music today, I actual don't recommend releasing demos to the public.
Demos are great for getting gigs, reference recordings, studio experience, etc. Your release should be a strong quality recording. Artists that release demos to the public can create a false interpretation of your music. People are used to hearing national released music, so the first impression is key. When hitting the recording studio you really need to do pre production sessions, iron things out before you hit record.
Should we release a full album, EP or Single? Lets start with releasing a single?
Lets break down each one individually..
A Single is the best option for introducing your music, for many of reasons. First its the most economical way to record a top quality song. You can get a lot of mileage on one track and have unlimited options for promotion. You can setup a game plan with a one song. I would create a video for the song, it doesn't need to be full blown production but something interesting, Setup a bandcamp/ITunes etc. to purchase the single, research radio both internet, terrestrial and podcasts, bloggers. I would also create a soundcloud page, its another great option. I would not worry about streaming just yet on Spotify and Pandora, the returns on these platforms are minimal until you get some traction. By releasing a single it gives a person time to absorb your music. Your direct marketing your sound to an audience.
Through the release of the single I would plan on releasing an E.P. 3-6 months later. The single will build your fan base than the EP release will be more receptive. This plan goes for new and established bands.
Okay, you have a kickass single is out there and its gaining traction, you see increases in your fan base with facebook likes, youtube views and single sales. No its time to think of a 5 song EP at this point, approx. 3-6 months after the release of the single. These are fan favorites because it not an over abundance of tracks to listen but a snap shot of the bands music and creativity. Also with EP's it gives your fans time to grow with the band and get excited for new music down the line as you continue to develop as artists. The game plan with the EP w/ your single is to make it available on all selling out lets, add it to the streaming services Pandora, IHeart, Spotify, etc. With the EP, you can now go out and try to get reviews from blogs, magazines, etc. Also EPs are great for promoting your band to management companies, booking agents, publishing companies and other media outlets. In today's age the EP is the way to go until you build a strong fanbase that can support a full length release.
The Full Length:
In today's musical climate I reserve full length releases to really established artists who know there fanbase would purchase a full length. The generation's capacity to listen to full length release is minimal to say the least. today music is treated a disposable music. With that being said many artists want to release a complete 10-14 track release, which usually winds up being 3-4 really good songs fans gravitate to and the rest are filler tracks. I have only seen in certain genres that a full length actually still works in todays music such as Progressive Rock; mainly because the songs are longer and usually are based on concepts to take you on a musically journey. So in today's age I strongly would think about releasing a full length and steer towards releasing EP's with your best music at that time.
Lets Address About Formats:
Still the most bang for buck. Easy for new fans to purchase. The most outlets to sell from bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon.
As the years go by CD sales keep going down but still bought at shows. I still seeing artists getting a 1000 CD run for their release, which is crazy today (unless you have the fanbase to support it). You wind up selling 100-200 units and then 800 CD's wind up in your garage collecting dust. This where you really have to do your planning on the amount of CD's to get. I would actually try and do pre-orders if possible to judge the volume. If you need to do a run of CD's I would start with 300 at the max, you can always reorder. The truth is the majority of your CD sales are at your live shows, if you plan on touring again you need to realistically gauge the possible CD sales at each Show. The reality is it could range from an average between 1-20.
Streaming should not be looked at as a revenue stream as everyone hears the horror stories of the streaming services payouts. Streaming should be looked as a promotional tool to build your fanbase. Again its great to have this but the reality of being added to larger bands pools is like hitting the lottery.
My Favorite format!! But for artists it is an expensive option on releasing your music. There has been a resurgence of the past years with vinyl. Is it staying or just a current trend? Who knows?? People who buy vinyl are real music lovers, love to collect their favorite bands and actually look for new music. If you are going to release on vinyl make sure you think it through and have a plan on distribution. The minimum runs are usually 100, you maybe able to get a 50 run at some places. I recommend trying to do a colored vinyl or something a little special. Lets get back to distribution of the vinyl. The real cool thing is there are all these Mom & Pop record stores everywhere that sell vinyl. I would make a list of all the surrounding area stores and contact them to sell your vinyl, the majority of the time they will. Make a deal with them so you get put in the new release section for impulse purchases. Also research all the online Vinyl stores and do the same thing.
I know a lot of the information I presented seems like no brainer but never seems to be put in place by the artists. Releasing a Single and than an EP is the best foot forward for all inspiring artists. The best thing about releasing EP's is that they always will represent your best 5 songs at that time, It gives and artist time to develop over time to weed out the weaker songs. Artists fall into the trap that every song is worth releasing and thinking they need to fill up a full CD's worth of material. Artists just need to focus on putting out great music, performing them live and building new fans!
Hope this was helpful!
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