The appeal of a major label is probably one of the biggest things for most bands or diy musicians starting out.
I remember thinking that every single opportunity for my band was going to be our “big break.”
Every DIY musician can relate to that feeling of thinking some record label is going to discover you at a certain show or gig to launch their music career.
Now, as appealing as major labels are, there are a lot of artists who are wanting to remain independent in this day and age.
The focus of this post is to break down ways you can take the biggest steps forward financially and career-wise. After all, funding your band's recordings, in the beginning, is not easy.
Set A Plan And Stick With It
Success does not happen overnight. It takes years and years of hard work in most cases. If you have just started a project and you are wanting to make music your full-time gig, then be patient and ambitious.
Quality Is Important
Do your research on bands that are in your same genre. What do their recordings sound like? Now before you come at me and say, ‘well these bands have $500,000 budgets for their albums,” I'm aware of this. However, there are so many producers and engineers nowadays that can produce really good sounding music for extremely cheap.
My band's EP that was released on a major label was recorded for only $5,000. Our strategy was to find the best producer in the area, go get jobs and figure out a way to record and pay for it. I think this is very important for bands to do as you gain a lot of insight from a producer, no matter who you are.
Once you have a plan, stick with it. I think the problem that many bands have is they expect to just be discovered by someone because their songs are good. That's not the way the world works today. Like any business, the music business wants to forward movement. This can be done independently. Don't expect someone to want to invest in you when you haven't given them a reason to other than produce a couple of songs.
I, like many musicians, think Spotify is a gigantic part of the equation. If you can grow your Spotify monthly listener count, you will not only be making money, you will be attracting attention that you may or may not want from the music industry. Spotify has made serious changes in their algorithm when it comes to an opportunity to newer bands.
They track your download rate. If your songs are getting a good percentage download rate, then they will playlist your songs. I think this is great as there are so many great new bands out there that struggle with breaking through.
Spotify works hand in hand with Youtube and Soundcloud. Know where to go with your songs. If you have a remix, then you will want to try and get traction over at Soundcloud before Spotify. I recommend having one of your songs remixed for EDM at Soundcloud as it just gives you more opportunity. There are still alternative bands who are breaking through youtube from thoughtful and enticing low-budget videos, so be creative.
I also recommend reimagining your songs. If you have a heavier song, maybe you reimagine it in a broken down or more acoustic way. This is big for publishing opportunities. Think of it like building a big portfolio along the way.
Singles Are The Way Of The Future
Yes, this sucks. It sucks so bad. When releasing your music now to Spotify, in order to qualify for playlists, you have to submit singles. There's no album option. This might not sound like a big deal, but a big way to get some traction behind your songs is to get on “Discover Weekly” or other playlists catered to finding new music.
Make sure that you take all of the right steps and follow Spotify's guidelines for this as well. Don't just go and put a song out on a Monday night because you felt like it because you will be eliminating the chance of playlisting.
Co-Writing And Producing
Throughout your musical journey, learn how to do one of these two things. In between tours or your own band's album cycles, this is an incredible way to supplement your income. Pretty much every band I know has members in the band who are either co-writing or producing.
You can get the opportunities for co-writing by networking with the right people. A lot of DIY musicians might be against co-writing and find it lame, but it's here and it's here to stay. This was hard for me to swallow at first as I always thought bands just wrote their own music.
You should have a manager who has the ability to help you in this department. If you don't have a manager you are seriously hurting your chances of moving forward. Your manager will be able to give you opportunities that will help you along the way. Managers typically have other artists and connections when it comes to co-writing or needing a producer for one of their other bands.
The best part of co-writing or producing is you learn this on the way. When you work with a producer you can sit in and be learning the entire time. The drummer in my band learned throughout our journey by doing all of our demos and then being a sponge when we would go in and record. We now put out our first self-released album because he was constantly learning and driven to do so.
If you're able to bring in bands and work with them on the side of your own project, you will be getter better at your craft, as well as helping fund your own project. It's a win-win situation.
Guest post: My name is Chris Senner and I am the keyboardist for the band Vinyl Theatre. I run a blog called Keyboard Kraze where I like to discuss MIDI keyboard controllers, digital pianos, and pretty much everything music industry related.