For sake of transparency and the possibility that the information may help others, I’m going to post about album release planning. Because music isn’t my main income source, I have the luxury of making mistakes and learning as I go. I’ll post at least one follow up post-release to evaluate, openly, the whole process.
I don’t know everything. If you know me personally or know about my day job teaching gifted students, you know I typically wave my stave of nerdom proudly. To recap a few mistakes, I’ll go from recent to past. With Hallowed, though I planned for three months, I didn’t plan areas like promotion, some details of the actual release, and budgeting of EVERYTHING. More importantly, I didn’t research. Going further to when I released instrumental albums, I need to plan promotion in advance. Paying a promotion company is cool, but not the most effective. Going back to my first release of original music, I need to have faith in my creations. That’s the hardest for me personally because I am a harsh self critic.
Album Release Planning
In December I created a timeline and addressed the previous mistakes I made. The calendar lists activities by month from January to June. I can electronically cross-off items. This is important because it lets me know that, yes, I’m running out of time and that, thankfully, I’m on track.
The first month of activities involved setting things in motion. I wanted to set dates for the release shows, find local performers to perform, setup an IndieGoGo campaign though it’ll start later, make sure songbook edits were complete, complete everything for the album except artwork, create lyric images for each song, and find ways to promote.
One part was easy–setting up venues and dates. Knowing that a venue wanted to host a release show and I asked enough in advance to get a date I wanted was a huge boost.
I hit two snags. The smaller one was the video for the campaign. For two weeks I had technical issues that made creating the video ridiculously frustrating. I ended up using Blender to edit the video. It’s a robust program but has a steep learning curve. The other snag involved setting up co-performers.
After some net-networking work, that means going through friend’s circles, I found people interested. I wanted to pay the co-performers too. So, we figured out a fair way to pay people for their art. I found out that what I get paid in a cover band is terribly low. My pay range as a lead guitar player in a four-piece cover band ranges from $80-$120 which breaks down to $20-$30 per performance hour. So, after talking and revising my budget, openers receive $25 for 3-4 songs and a duo who is doing a songwriter round with me is receiving $80.
On January 31, I crossed off the last of that month’s to-do list and felt accomplished. Then, and I laugh as I type, I started to self doubt the whole thing. That lasted a couple days. A feeling like that isn’t uncommon when you want something to go well. The main thing to remember is balancing that feeling with more accomplishments.
The second month for album release planning is where events start to get real. This is where the IndieGoGo campaign goes live, promotion begins, and a possible new task.
When planning ahead, you have to be flexible and smart enough to identify tasks that you should’ve added. I mastered the new album by myself. Another mistake on Hallowed was it was mastered too loud. The new album follows international mastering standards. Learning, interpreting, and applying those was a process all to itself which I jumped headfirst into from Thanksgiving to New Year’s 2015. I read a new article about mastering and I’ll see about mastering the tracks again. This may or may not need to happen as the tracks are “done.”
March continues much of what was begun in February for album release planning. The crowd funding campaign ends and the last of the lyric images will be posted. Promotion for the actual release shows will continue.
The most chill month of the timeline for album release planning is April. This is the time to promote the shows which started months back and get any pre-orders ready to send. I’m thinking about setting up some other solo shows and April may be a good month.
The public release of the album will be May 13, 2016. The Wolf in Ballwin, MO a suburb of St. Louis, MO is hosting the release show. The rest of this month is busy with some school activities from my day-job, but it can also be a good time for solo shows.
The private release show, and this is more like a party, will be a Henry House Concert outside Pacific, MO. This is where I often open for other artists and where the release for Hallowed was held.
After I release Hallowed in October 2014, I learned a couple months later that October is the worst time for an indie artist to release and album. May is a good month as it could help get notice for different summer and early fall activities that cater to indie artists.
My main goal through the project is to break even. The album release planning goal is put more eloquently in the video, but I’m trying to show that music doesn’t have to be an expense to the artist. Yeah, things like the recording time and equipment were not factored into the costs, but I’m trying to give a real account of what an album costs, the work involved, and what the results may be.