Making the most out of your music, Pt 1

Over the last few years I’ve been a vocal advocate of independent music, and all that entails.

I’ve not been too vocal over the mistreatment of artists by the ‘Majors’ (I could have, I’ve a cracking story about SyCo akin to the Rhythmix debacle, but I couldn’t afford the cost!), but I have made a point of advocating the idea that, in order to make the most of their music, artists should stay independent. Or at least retain control of their creation.

Having spent the last few weeks working with a band on the release of their new full length album, I think I may have changed my tune… slightly.

I still firmly believe that most bands/artists should maintain as much (if not total) control over their music as they can and that, in most cases, signing a deal with a major label will be detrimental more than beneficial to a band. There is a caveat to all this however; the question usually asked at this stage is “What do you want to achieve?”

Regardless of the answer to that question, and in all honesty when it comes to the next point, it’s moot anyway, most musicians would like to make some money from their recordings. The real question is, or should be, “How do you make as much money as you can?”

The answer to this, as with most money related questions, is not a simple one. And I think it’s this fact that all the ‘Industry Experts’ seem to miss when they tell all new budding global superstars to go it alone. If you want to do it properly then releasing an album, an EP, or even a single is no mean feat.

In fact, it’s a bloody nightmare!

I’m not going to get involved with the process of actually writing and recording your material, I’m going to start at the point where that’s done… What next?

Where would you like to start? Mechanical royalties? Performance royalties? Publishing? How about the basic retail of your product? But then there’s the decision of online vs physical, and if you go for the latter there’s the medium you choose?

And, of course, there’s the cost involved in getting most of this to happen in the first place…Which isn’t as expensive as you might think but can be prohibitive for many bands in their fledgling years.

What I have noticed over the last few years is that, despite everybody and their Aunt telling you to go it alone, there are very few places where you can actually find out how to make the most if it. I had to spend weeks trawling industry websites, phoning poeple, writing emails and all sorts of other ‘non-musical’ activities before we released our first EP. And even then I got it wrong! Our second single wasn’t much better, although it was nice to get the email from the UK Chart Company asking us for more details as we were selling well but they needed some further information. A pleasant surprise if ever there was one!

I’ve been involved with several releases by my old band, some more with other bands I’ve known, I’ve advised even more, and I’m still learning. Every day.
This is no easy task and I can see why having some kind of representation involved could be of great assistance to any ‘independent’ artist.

I remember reading on the old CD Baby site that if you found yourself being better at one aspect of the music industry than the other, or enjoying one more than another, then you should reconsider what you do. I’m at that point now.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to write about what I’ve learned during the last few years (and weeks). And who knows, now the new album’s out someone might actually make some money from it!

Once it’s ready this series of posts will move across to a new site. I can’t say too much just now, but all will be revealed soon.

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