Hi there! Been a while since i posted anything in a forum, though my mixing kick/bass tutorial was pretty popular a couple years ago. Here I am back with a few things I have learnt and some tips that might really help you out!
Why is my music not GREAT?
So, the ideas are flowing, you sit down at your desk and bash out a track, it's sounding pretty good, you might put it on your soundcloud. But whats that? Nobody really likes it, and if your honest and have good listening skills, you'll probably find it doesn't sound as great as a track that is performing 100X better by your favourite artist.
Firstly, don't blame your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation i,e, Fruity Loops, Logic etc)
Maybe its that it sounds great on your system, your iPod earphones, your computer speakers, etc etc.
But anybody listening on a high quality system will think otherwise! (This was a common problem for myself who spent years producing music on a noisy PA system).
It's very important to suck it up, find a part-time job and save up for essential monitors and audio interface costing around £300 at least (second-hand is a great option too).
Well your studio setup is fine, what else could it be?
Balance! Learn a little about mastering, what a good track should sound like and also, look like. Use for example, Bluecat Audios Spectrum Analyser (freeware). To make sure you have a balanced mix.
Compression and EQ is vital! TBH, going to college to study music tech was one of the best things i ever did! Having one to one tuition at times about compression and EQ was the most important thing that improved my music. For those that don't have such a great opportunity, youtube has all the answers, and for those who don't like searching through a tedious amount of videos. I would recommend "The Mixing Engineers Handbook, and, The Mastering Engineers Handbook". Even an online version would help. Make notes, study, blah blah. You get the gist.
Well, now you have some pretty decent sounding music techniques, and you are pretty confident your ideas are working out the way you want them to sound. Whats next? Well, the next and main part of this tutorial, is about establishing an online presence and becoming a somewhat popular artist.
You've made your first decent track, what do you do with it?
First, you want a profile.
A Soundcloud, facebook, twitter and whatever else you think might work (mixcloud maybe?)
Make sure to make a facebook artist page on your original facebook, this is pretty important.
The profiles should have continuity. The same profile pictures, the same themes, the same Bio's, cover photos and any other information you want to add.
Next, how to engage with soundcloud effectively. Before uploading your tracks, do some searching and A+R work to find similar artists, find some inspiration, find some small record labels that will get you started. The easiest way to do this, is first start with a pretty popular artist. Someone with at least a few thousand followers. Scroll through their followers, look past the fans (the people with maybe 50 followers and a selfie for a profile picture [selfie is different to press shots, covered later]). You might find they are followed by some music channels (pages that just love to promote music), some small record labels (labels that would love to release that artists music, but instead repost it because they support good music), some aspiring artists (chances are if they are following that artist, they will have a similar music taste too yourself.) Be sure to give these guys a follow and follow their facebook pages and twitter pages and whatever to begin building bridges.
Now send them a message on soundcloud! Or even better, directly on facebook, or maybe even better, email them!
I find a message on soundcloud or by email should always have a formal format.
Now talk about how good their channel is (don't bullshit them, if it's not your thing, don't say it is...)
Ask how you could get involved!
Now give it a few days, work on a new track. With every new track you should employ every technique you used in the last one, and something new. This way you will always be improving your sound.
So maybe somebody got back to you? Maybe there are some nice people afterall! Get involved now. Send them a track or something. Or if you already have a track on soundcloud, ask if they could repost it to their followers. If an artist likes your track, ask to get involved with a collaboration. Collaborations are as easy as bouncing down parts of a track you are working on or even stuck on, maybe just bouncing down loops or whole 3minute+ stems.
So, you got a good track, some people are interested in your music and sharing it, where do you go from here?
sign up to this, make a spotlight feature for a track you are willing to give away as a free download.
When you do this, anybody that wants to download your track, must follow you on soundcloud first, thats pretty neat right?
Maybe you want to build a bigger presence on facebook? Well theres an app for that too! Search facebook 'like to download' or something. This way anybody that downloads your track will have to like you FB page first!
Or maybe a bigger twitter presence? unlock.fm is a great tool that means people must tweet about your track to beable to download it.
These three tools are pretty much fundamental to building a larger following quickly.
However, this only works if you get your track shared a lot.
Honestly, the best way to get your track shared lots, is to have a fair few followers, or by having it shared by one person with a lot of followers. This is where it is sooo important to network with music channels, labels and other artists. But as i kind of stated earlier, your music needs to be good first!
So, after a few months of pumping out banging tunes, networking with the right people, maybe doing a couple of remixes and having good support from music channels and labels. It's time to start thinking about a little income.
I first started with bigtunes.mp3, which to be honest, was kind of fun, but not the best. They will take 50% of your earnings, and only distribute mp3 format, and you will soon learn, DJs will not pay £1.50 (minimum bigtunes price) for a mp3 track that isn't even signed!
So, in my opinion, the best option is to use bandcamp.com. You can setup an artist page, upload your track and release it very quickly with no confirmation time and they only take 15%! This will be paid directly into your paypal account and i think they take a small fee also. But 25% total fee is pretty good compared to what itunes beatport + record labels will take from you. Oh, and you can release on bandcamp in any format you want, even vinyl and tape casette
there are also options to add merchandise and cool stuff like that in the future.
And trust me, although getting signed to a label is pretty dreamy, hold it off for a while, the money isn't worth it until you find a bigger label so you might as well do it yourself!
So, let's say you made your first £5-20 selling music. Sure, it doesn't cover the cost of your mac, monitors, interface, software and whatever else. But forget that, that was nearly never going to be made back with where you were before right? This money should be invested in something like... A new logo? Or if you are more confident, handsome and charismatic, Press shots! You know, that black and white picture of you looking grumpy near some graffiti
Or you could spend a couple £££ on an advertising campaign on Facebook. This can be a pretty cool way to boost your online presence but not highly recommended. Alternatively, you could spend the money on some sample packs, vocals especially.
Keep building bridges, pumping out good music, get friendly with label managers and artist on facebook. Send your tracks to DJ's. And honestly, the majority of other artists and label owners are pretty damn easy going. Add them as friends, chat music stuff, tag them in cool shit. Before you know it the support you will be getting from these people will be your go-to when you make a new track.
I will add more to this post when something pops into my head!
Final word, get out of the WIP forums! I spent years posting my music in these forums as opposed to doing what i have stated above, and it won't really get you anywhere and isn't massively inspiring!