Planning on releasing your own album? Great! Self-releasing your album can let you get the music into the hands of your fans while you keep your hands on all of your rights and cash. Of course, releasing an album requires a lot of work, money, and effort - and you have to know exactly you're facing before you even take the first step if it is going to work. As you get your album ready for the public, here are five things to keep in mind. Click on any of the links to get more advice.
So, what exactly does it mean to release an album? On a self-release level, it could mean everything from selling copies at shows to landing a national distribution deal, but you have to know one thing for sure: just because you're not working with a record label doesn't mean that you won't have to do the work that a record label does if you want your release to be a success. Make sure you understand the broad picture - that your album needs some form of promotion, distribution, and possibly manufacturing - to make the process of releasing the album worthwhile.
It would be nice if the whole, "if you build it, they will come," thing worked with music, but alas, you've got to generate a lot of promotion to let the world know that your album is out there. You will need to make some decision about how you're going to get that job done. You can hire various PR companies or handle things yourself - that decision comes down to your budget and what you think you can realistically achieve. If you are promoting your album yourself, decide in advance what your promotion targets are. Your job will be most manageable if you focus on a region plus any markets where you'll be playing shows.
Fortunately, in these modern times, there's no particular need for you to manufacture hard copies of your album and start courting distributors to place it in record stores. Tunecore, CD Baby and other sites can get your music to the people digitally with ease. However, you need SOME plan for distribution - even if you do just end up doing it digitally - and if you plan to manufacture CDs for more than selling at your shows, you will need physical distribution. A physical distributor will want to know your plans for promotion, making the promo question above all the more relevant.
Live shows are the best way to promote just about anything, including your new release. Hitting the road hard will increase your fan base and help you get press for your album, but booking is something that takes time - and time is at a premium when you're releasing your own album. If you're experienced at booking your own shows, then you probably have a database of existing contacts to make your job easier. If you haven't booked shows before, be sure to allot some time for getting some gigs set up around your release date.
Releasing an album costs money - can you afford it? Putting all of the costs on your credit card is NOT a good plan. Be sure to create a budget for your release that still lets you meet all of your bills - which means that making sure none of the steps of your release plan oversteps what you can realistically afford. Don't plan for, say, a massive tour and hope that it turns into a money maker. Settle on an investment you can afford, plan accordingly, and then use the money that comes in to fund your next project.