Record Release Checklist For New Producers
If you want to make it as a DJ you need to produce!
It's no secret that headline acts make their name through producing great music. As a producer your tracks are your business card, they get your name known and then the bookings bring home the bacon. If you want to get paid gigs and be booked as a headline act you need to establish yourself as a producer. Use this easy to follow guide to help you start the right way and remember it's a marathon not a sprint!
10 Steps To Your First Release
- Learn how to produce, properly.
Take tuition at LSA, or any other insitution, but make sure you don't put it off any longer. Learning how to produce might seem daunting but really none of it is rocket science. Granted, there is a lot of information to learn but if you chip away at it you'll be surprised how quickly the knowledge accumulates. It's very much like learning a language, you have to dedicate yourself to a consistent learning routine. Click here to find more about production tuition at LSA, and remember 1-2-1 production courses, like those on offer at LSA will help you reach your goals quicker.
- Set goals
Motivate yourself and keep on track by leading a healthy lifestyle and having a daily to-do list, a weekly achievement list and long term goals. A great daily task App is called Productive. I use the productive app to manage my regular daily goals like my gym routines, social media marketing routines and other health routines that keep my healthy and focused. I then use Notes on my iPhone to manage my daily to-do list, my weekly achievements and my long term goals. I make sure that I give myself a tick emoji when I have completed a task, rather than deleting it. I get a buzz looking over a long list of completed tasks!
- Create your identity
Have a clear concept of what your identity as an artist is. Don't follow other people, find what your uniqueness is and amp it up. The thing you feel most self conscious about is probably your greatest gift. Learn how to embrace your own quirks and differences and base your creativeness on them. Music listeners are interested in the composers as much as the music itself, so what is your story?
- Create your first release
Work towards your first release but remember, when you're new to production you learn at an accelerated pace. Don't release something that you would have out-grown six months later. Release something you are truly proud of, something that reflects you as a producer and something that your peers also embrace. It's important to get constructive criticism from other producers and professionals who have been down this path before. Learn from their mistakes and heed their advice.
You will need strong artwork for your release(S.) Consider finding a graphic designer and working with them not just to create your first release artwork but a whole graphic identity for forthcoming releases. It's often not just the square cover artwork you need nowadays, sometimes you need other sizes for platforms like iTunes where the iTunes booklet is an option. It's wise to make sure your designer is on hand to create multiple variations of the image for your distributors but also for your social media. You need to build a strong relationship with your designer so that you can use them again for visual consistency.
- Create your press pack
A press pack is a folder of information which you will send to anyone from the press or potential record labels. It will contain several high quality press photos, we recommend that you have some portrait, some landscape, some back and white and some colour. If you're looking for a great photographer in London check out Thomas Hensher by clicking here. You will also need a biography, we recommend having a short biography of around 100 words and also an extended version around 300 words. In addition you may also include any logos or other graphics you use, any style guidelines and fonts. An extra piece I like to include is a dummy Q&A style interview, this allows the reader to gain a good insight into how you think and also gives journalists an indication of how an interview might come out. Have your press pack hosted on Drop Box and share when needed.
- Approach labels
It's always recommended to approach other record labels before considering starting your own. Compile a list of your top five labels you'd love to release on, but make sure you fit their current roster. Then you need to approach them, ideally by post or in person, failing that online. You need to have a premaster of your song ready for them to listen to, normally a private link on Soundcloud. Whatever you do make sure you don't upload your track publicly anywhere. If you're lucky you might get your track signed.
Beware of the scams, there are some labels out there that charge you to release on them or charge you very high mastering fees. Avoid these labels because they will leave a nasty stain on your reputation. If no label you like wants your release consider releasing yourself.
- Create your own label
Its great to have your release signed to a label because they would have more experience at promoting that yourself, but if you're not getting signed consider releasing yourself. There are many platforms you can use to do this nowadays but one of the best is Labelworx. Their modern digital platform allows you to set up your own record label and release your music on all major platforms like Beatport and iTunes.
- Promotion & PR
If you decided to set up your own label and release your own track you will need to find some promotion or PR help. There are many music PR companies that will help you by sending your track to a list of DJs. Those DJs will often give feedback about your track and download it to play on the radio or in their own sets. These services normally cost between £200-£700 per release. You'll want to find a music PR that has acts similar to you already on their roster. You can of course try and send your promo to DJs on your own but this is going to be very hard and may take years to build a decent mailing list.
Many DJs now use social media advertising to promote their own release. Instagram stories and Youtube ads are currently the most effective places to advertise music. Make sure you target your audience and don't waste money by targeting a broad range of people.
- Keep pushing
Once your release is out there keep pushing it. Don't just release it and move on instantly. Keep trying new channels, new ways of getting it heard and when every angle has been explored move on to your next project. Your first release will be a learning curve, make sure you take advantage of that and prepare bigger better things for the second release!
Consider getting bigger name DJs to remix your track and have the remix on the release. Often a bigger producer will charge a fee for this which can be anything from £500 upwards.
For more information about learning how to produce click here. London Sound Academy now also releases music independently search for LSA on Beatport and support your fellow alumni!