You’re a singer or songwriter. You have talent, but what do you do with it? Let’s assume you have managed to get funding for an independent recording-what pitfalls do you want to avoid?
Here are 6 tips to help you as you embark on your journey as an artist.
Mistake #1: Not listening to your audience when writing your material.
Solution: Think of THEM, not YOU. Know why you are writing, and to whom. Write to uplift people, and not for selfish-expression. If your work requires substantial explanation, you have missed the boat. Know your audience and take them where they (or you) want them to go with your talents. You are already unique, use that for other’s good.
Mistake #2: Making your recordings unperformable in a live setting.
Solution: It is possible to adapt even the most sequenced techno hip hop tune to a live setting, but making it absolutely unperformable will be like shooting yourself in the foot. Though this requirement should not limit you in taking advantage of the array of digital possibilities available, bear in mind that, if it is good, someday someone will want to perform it.
Mistake #3: Getting stuck in production. Endlessly tweaking vocals, changing arrangements, experimenting in the studio on the 5% that will only matter to you, and not your audience.
Solution: This is a huge problem. Is it better to spend extra money on special mastering instead of promotion? Not if your funds are limited. Have a budget and stick to it. Realize that 95% of what you do will work, and that extra 5% you spend diddling around will not matter to the audience.
Mistake #4: Bad cover art.
Solution: Your CD cover is the first line of advertising for your work. It should reflect tastefully what the album is, and why it should be bought, at a glance. It should be professional and compelling. Instead of using Aunt Jane’s cousin who draws well, get a designer with a track record in the music industry. A good starting point can be found by looking at the list of winning designers on www.pearlawards.org.
Mistake #5: Not getting distribution.
Solution: Distribution comes in two formats: digital downloads and physical cd’s in stores. You need both. For people to buy your album, it should be readily available. More outlets mean more sales. Get into as many outlets as you can. If you can’t get distribution, you may have one of two problems-your album is not marketable, or you haven’t found the right distributor for your work.
Mistake #6: Getting distribution but not budgeting for promotion.
Solution: Putting your music on iTunes and in stores is meaningless without promotion. Promotion and touring are the holy grail of music. It does no good to have your work in many outlets if you are not driving people to them.
Budget for promotion. Maintain an active e-mail list; buy promotion and advertising from reputable companies. Look for the most bang for the buck. Then perform, perform, perform-anywhere you can. Keep in touch with your fans. Get radio and internet presence if you can. Send your cd to media outlets and follow up. Most of all-don’t give up! Keep doing it long after the first release. Eventually, it will pay off.
Greg Hansen is an award-winning record producer and arranger. To learn more about Greg, visit www.greg-hansen.com. Greg has endorsed www.yourldsneighborhood.com as an excellent promotional tool for independent musicians.