OUR TIPS TO MUSICIANS
This article does not say a word about production, recording or anything related to creating music and writing songs. Here, we would like to talk about the outside of this process — the image, knowledge and promotion. Let us talks about these main things in detail. Over the past 11 years, we have communicated with hundreds of musicians. Some of them became our residents; some of them participated in our compilations; some played at our concerts or just wrote direct messages to us. We are talking about 100 percent underground music which has no chance of becoming popular or commercially successful (which is not bad, by the way). Looking at a lot of musicians from the outside, we can see the same mistakes in the way they present their material, form their image and communicate with their audience. Let us talk about it. Here are 15 ways to get better.
CREATE OR COMMISSION COOL COVER ART. IT IS YOU MUSIC’S “CLOTHES” IN THE ONLINE WORLD.
You have only a couple of seconds to convince an accidental user to listen to your tracks. So you want to take the cover art — the thing that the listener sees first — seriously.
FILL IN BIOS ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
Put yourself in the shoes of a person who knows nothing about you. They want to understand the genre of your music, the way you differ from other artists and whose music your tracks resemble. Write about your involvement in festivals, collaborations with other artists, interesting facts and several quotes. Be convincing but brief — it is unlikely that someone would read a large tractate.
WRITE A GOOD DESCRIPTION FOR YOUR ALBUM
There are at least two reasons why this is important. You want to tell a little about yourself and about you release— what it is about, how it was recorded and who you are. Introduce yourself to the listener. A short text consisting of 10-15 sentences is what administrators of public pages will copy or quote in the future. Give them some food for thought or a finished text. This will help you have more publications. This is a tried-and-true method!
CREATE CONTENT MORE OR LESS REGULARLY
Writing tracks and albums is not a very fast process. But resurfacing in the community once every six months is also not a good thing either. This makes you lose both old and new subscribers. Post at least three times a month. What should you publish? Here are some ideas — videos from rehearsals and concerts; videos from the life of your band members; interesting facts about the band; memories about creating songs and lyrics; announcements of meetings or new performances; mixtapes; everyday life or concert photos.
LEARN HOW SOCIAL MEDIA AND VARIOUS SERVICES WORK
There are many nuances in it. For example, Facebook blocks short links like vk.cc, while VKontakte poorly ranks posts including links to competing websites such as YouTube or Apple Music. Use an article editor for large texts — such posts attract more attention and there is an option to save the article. Use hashtags but do not abuse them— if there are more than 10 hashtags, the post will not appear on VKontakte search. Did you know that users from Ukraine cannot open shortened links made with the popular clck.ru? Learn technical features of services you use.
FILM AT LEAST ONE GOOD MUSIC VIDEO OR LIFE PERFORMANCE VIDEO
The atmosphere created by musicians on stage is no less important for listeners than their tracks. Add videos of your performances to your page to make new listeners from other cities feel some of the emotions that were born on stage. A full-fledged art video clip is another way to express yourself on popular YouTube. In addition, not all media outlets’ websites have plug-ins for playing audio clips so they only attach video content to their materials.
PUBLISH ONLY FULLY FINISHED TRACKS
The internet remembers everything. Perhaps in a few years, you will not like the version of a track you have posted and removing it from some sites would be impossible or very time-consuming.
RECORD AT LEAST ONE COLLABORATION TRACK FOR YOUR UPCOMING ALBUM
Teamwork gives you an interesting experience (which is useful for work in every area). Also, new names may make you album more beautiful and diverse.
PERFORM AT GOOD EVENTS
They may be big or small, happening in your city or at some neighboring location. Any organizer spends money on promoting their event by distributing its announcement and poster. The cooler the event, the bigger is the promotion budget. In addition, it always brings some new listeners for you. They might listen to your tracks before a concert or will maybe love your performance.
SAVE YOUR PROJECT MORE OFTEN AND MIXDOWN STEMS IN WAV
This is a very banal advice. However, we have learnt from musicians that about 70 percent of albums that were recorded only seven-eight years ago do not have raw project files or a WAV version. But it is almost impossible to upload an album to, for example, Apple Music or Deezer, if you have only mp3 files; or even more so making a remix of a track.
A GOOD TRACK IS A CATCHY AND EXPRESSIVE TRACK
Emphasize those elements of your track that seem important and cool to you. Do not forget that at present, the world is overwhelmed with music — many fast forward music by artists they do not know or only listen to 20-30 seconds from a track. It is important to hook a listener right away. This does not apply, for example, to ambient music but I think the point is clear — the “main feature” of your track needs to stand out in the very first bars or your should emphasize it with regard to the composition of your track.
SIGN UP FOR IMPORTANT EMAIL NEWSLETTERS AND MUSIC PUBLIC PAGES
You do not only need to know about new music appearing on genre public pages but what is going on — big festivals and experiments at city festivals, remix contests and creative contests. Communicate and write letters to people who seem interesting to you.
PUBLISH YOUR ALBUM ON VARIOUS DATABASES AND STREAMING SERVICES
Take, for example, Discogs. It is the largest text catalog of music including five million pages. And there is no need to talk about streaming services. The trend is already obvious. Even in Russia, people are starting (yay!) to subscribe to streaming services and any news about the opening of Spotify in Russia is accompanied by positive comments and hopes. It is important to note that in Google or Yandex search results, such services are very well positioned — right below main social networks.
Our label distributes music on various services. You can read about it here.
OFFER PUBLIC PAGES ON SOCIAL NETWORKS TO POST ABOUT YOUR NEW SONG OR ALBUM
The better the proposed publication matches the format of a community, the higher chances are that it will be published. Add a description, a link to the public page, write right hashtags, attach your audio recordings and the cover art. And do not limit yourself by only VKontakte.
INVOLVE SESSION MUSICIANS
A session musician is a musician who is involved in recording of a song or an album, in concert performances or tours. As a rule, they are not officially listed among a band’s permanent musicians and temporarily play in it. Typically, they are involved when members of a band do not have enough experience or resources to play a part themselves in a studio or at a concert. They are also invited when you want to bring some new style or personality to the performance.
Have you seen how many people are involved in making Massive Attack tracks? Do you know how many bands were glorified by keyboardist Don Airy? Look for session musicians in your city and in other locations — through social networks, forums, freelance websites, or some special services (such as mixluv.com).
MAKE AN ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN PLAN IN ADVANCE
If your album will be promoted by a label, ask about the plan of promotion. What resources will it involve? What resources should you get involved into? Make a promotion schedule, plan and agree on publications. Spend some money on targeting and paid posts. You have only three days for it while news about the release is still “hot.”
“Compete only with yourself. Progress does not mean getting close to someone. It is rather exceeding your past achievements,” says Mark Shishlev, the head of Label Cuntroll.