Musicians will always want to strive to create a release that they are proud of, however at times that much beloved work may in fact turn out to be the worst piece of music heard ever since man first learned what music is, that does not mean to say the band is bad, just they might have lacked that extra oomph to release a piece of music that's credible enough as being good.
So with that in mind, I have placed down ten top tips on not only how to make that beloved record go the extra mile but also at the same time allow your band to reap the justified rewards, after all a platinum record sale is what you dream of no?
1. Originality of the release
By far the most important aspect of any record and band, it does not take a musical genius to create music that is 100% original, look at Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, the list goes on - none of these classical composers borrowed or stole musical compositions or sections from each other, the result being they became masters in their own field. So for bands and artists, by all means be influenced by certain music but for goodness sake do not copy a riff or attempt to copy any song part, simply because it's not original and it's too easily done, plus would you rather be seen as a musician or group of musicians with their own material and not copied from music already out there? Remember counterfeit goods are not as good as the real thing, same principle.
2. Originality of the music
Consider this as a disjointed add-on to point number one, a paradoxical section if you like. Whilst most bands set the trend, this does not mean others should follow like sheep. For example, Metalcore, the music genre that gulfs the world and in particular the USA and UK, sure it's a credibel genre that spawned off highly successful bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Bring Me The Horizon, Hatebreed and more, but come on just playing metalcore because it's there is as bad as dressing the same way as your father or mother, remember it pays to be different, but that difference is what sells also, paradox number two. Take Motionless In White, a Metalcore band lashed with gothic and industrial elements, Asking Alexandria, mixes Metalcore with trance elements, Bleeding Through, utilizes Metalcore and incorporates a plethora of elements such as symphonic black metal and melodic death metal. The point remains the same, these bands have stepped out of the supply chain of Metalcore and found a little niche, trendsetting - leading the line. Remember, a musical style that deviates from the mass generated is a deviation that leads to newer slants.
3. Production level
Whilst it is understandable that not all bands can afford luxuries such as studios, professional mixers, mastering or producers, this does not therefore mean that bands cannot try to compensate. If you want a release to sell or get noticed, keep the production level up - having one song that blasts the speakers apart and then the next one so badly done it would fail to qualify for the local pub gig, is an issue, of course that example is an anomaly; but it still is a vital issue. A clever and sneaky way to go around this if your strapped for cash, look for a local producer - ideally a friend of the band or of whom is in a band, try to network in this case. Prior to that do your home recordings, then send the home recordings to the studio or producer, let him / her mix it and finalize it. Result? Home studio recordings done on a budget. Those who have limited resources, it is harder for them to achieve this and so best advice? Group record. Get a group of local bands to come together to record in a whole day and before you know it, you would have four releases done in a quarter of the time it would take to do separately.
4. Guest appearances.
We all know the game tag, if not it's basically you're it and you have to run and 'tag' people, place that in a music context and what you end up with is guests appearing on your release. For example, the Dead Lay Waiting are tomorrow (15th May 2013) releasing their 'Ascent of the Murder' EP which features musicians like Katy Jackson of The Hype Theory on it, getting other musicians to guest is a unique way to not only network but give that release another dimension, it elevates certain songs that could prove to be worthy of release as a single. Think Apocalyptica, how many guests they've had and then think the successes they've had, this also relates to point two where a new style is potentially going to be followed, in this instance Cello Metal was a risky move but it paid off.
5. Cover Songs
OK I didn't say you had to be 100% original, OK maybe I did, thing is if you can pull off a decent cover and note it does not need to be metal or rock; Children of Bodom - 'Oops I Did It Again', then do it, but it might be worth it to release the cover prior to the release and in fact if the cover is poor, don't go there. There are too many occasions where an artists does a song cover and ruins the original, so if you're going to try to attempt a seminal hit, make sure you're 85%-90% pitch perfect, otherwise don't think about it. Remember established artists are hard to do, so make sure you can get it nearly spot on, otherwise alternatively cover a lesser known song. The likelihood of a music fan buying a release with a cheeky cover on it is more than likely to happen than if the cover was worse than the original (and that can happen).
As Humans we're attracted to attention-grabbing images or font, so aye when a release has a title that is longer than a biblical passage or is harder to read than Arabic backwards, don't bother. Make the artwork also fit the style of music you are going for, a Death Metal album with a pink fairy as the cover is hardly likely to be appealing and will mislead, although I'm adamant that Peter Pan and Tinkerbell would be apt for a Folk Metal release, nay Lord of The Rings as the latter is sure to get Pagan Metal bands wooing. Simply having pretty graphics is not good enough, the music has to be better than the graphics, on the other hand having a simple picture can be effective too - an example of an artwork befitting the music style is Eluveitie's 'Slania' as the band play Celtic / Melodic Death Metal and so a picture of a girl dressed in traditional Celtic dress in front of the Swiss mountains is apt. So think does the artwork reflect the music genre being played? Remember you want to lead fans, not mislead them.
7. Song structure and is it catchy?
Whilst some may despise Carla Rae Jepsen's 'call me maybe' song, it befits everything warranted in a catchy song structure, with the eloquent use of synths and a bouncy beat, the Canadian unleashed a song that took the world by storm, the same can be unmistakably said for Psy's 'Gangnam Style' from which holds the record as the most viewed video on YouTube, 1 BILLION!. Remember a song that is easily remember has a sound that triggers your memory (think 'i got a song in a my head'), for a song to be essentially good it must follow a set song structure, just adding a breakdown every 30 seconds or so does not cut it, drive that riff into the breakdown and keep on tabs on showing off the guitar skills, for instance listen to God Dethroned's 'Nihilism', the solo features whammy bar movement but in a way that it falls back onto the main song structure, so does the song flow like a stream or is it a flash flood that is ghastly and displeasing? Remember a catchy song is one that you can easily sing along to and gets you moving, moshing, dancing, raving, etc - break it in!
8. Extra features
Anyone can release music, it's been done since around the 1920's in the form of the tape, this shifted to vinyl, then CD and now digital download, but the old formats are still selling and increasing at that. But don't you find it annoying when it's just music, sure sometimes that is all it takes, but to go that extra mile and feature acoustic songs, remixes, music videos, online content, anything else that is a bonus is a clever way to get those sales going, remember if you release a standard and limited edition, you are giving people the opportunity by targeting two markets, it works - if you like make a few limited editions, the die hard fans will be crawling all over you to get a copy. In fact, it gives a more personal and generous feel, you want to satisfy old fans and new fans, so treat them to something new, something not everyone has seen - take a look at those box-sets, now who would not say no?
9. Release the music on international platforms.
This may seem obvious, but some bands fail to capitalize on this simple and basic option. ABBA, unknown outside Sweden until Eurovision were lucky to experience a slant of this, same principle. However for those not into Eurovision, try contacting distributors outside your country, some will be willing to sell your release and so knowing your release is being sold in other nations is as good as creating a home sales market. Kaine for example sold albums in Japan, even so some labels will link up with others and distribute. But also put your music on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, etc and get it out there. Remember your release isn't going to sprout legs and walk over to other places by itself, so get it out on the international market!
10. Put your heart, soul and emotions into the release
Finally point ten, if you are going to release something make sure you have put all your heart, soul and emotions into it, anyone as said can release music and if there is nothing felt on the receiving end, then you'll end up with a nothing release. Remember going with your gut feeling and following your heart will guarantee you a credible release, it may seem obvious but some releases I've heard I failed to connect with because the music failed to connect with the musicians, think of it as a football team, if the players' morale is down, the output is dire, if they are happy then the output is likely to be good, same principle. This is a personal piece of work no? Then be personal with it, dedicate yourself to the job and enjoy it, put your feelings into it and the listener will relate.
Follow these ten points and your release will be credible for acceptance as an excellent piece of music.
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