Whether it’s your first time recording an EP or your first time attempting to finish one in less than two months, I must say, is exciting, ambitious, and no small task. Trust me, there's a lot that goes into recording such a project. I myself, just finished recording my first Christmas EP in less than two months and it was definitely an eye opening experience. I learned so much about myself, about collaborating, and the process of digital music distribution. So I want to dedicate this blog to all artists out there who are either wanting to recording their very first EP or wanting to finish one in less than two months. The following are a couple of thoughts and highlights I believe can be of help to you.
Financing Your EP
First things first, what is your budget look like? This will help determine several things, like who your audio engineer will be, what kind of studio you’ll be recording in, how many songs you will do, and what level of musicianship you will hire? Oh yeah, I also want to mention that your budget will also be paying for food, drinks, snacks, graphic designs, online promoting, mastering, copyrights, mechanical licensing, and digital and physical distribution for your EP. Now, if you’re not working with a very big budget for this project, a great way to save and work within your means, is asking yourself, which of my friends would be willing to help me? Some of your friends might do it for a lot less than you think or they may even donate some of their time to help you for free. You won’t know until you ask. From my own experience, being honest up front about the budget you are working with can help the conversation feel less awkward.
I also want to mention here, that the one person who should be getting paid the most, is your “Audio Engineer.” I can’t tell you enough, how much time and energy they are going to be investing in your project in the coming weeks. I am talking about like (Prep for recording, Recording, Recording/Tracking, Editing, Mixing, Mastering). So whatever kind of budget you’re working with, do your best to take good care of them. Here’s another helpful tip, keeping track of all your receipts will not only help you stay organized, but will also help you see where you spent the most and where you spent the least. Having this kind of information can be a helpful resource in finding better and creative ways in saving and making the most of your funds on your next music project.
Get the Ball Rolling NOW
Once you have found an audio engineer who's willing to partner with you, schedule in some time to meet up and get things rolling. What will this meeting be like? During this time, you'll get a chance to share what your vision and hopes are for this project. You'll talk about potential studio locations where all of the recordings can take place. You'll get to look over the calendar to mark down some possible recording dates. You'll write down a list of musicians and vocalists who you think would be great for this project. Also, make sure you pick a day by when you would like to have this EP done and even if you don’t finish it by then, it’s still good to have something to work towards.
Get Demos Done
What do demos help accomplish? Well, they help give you and your audio engineer a framework to work off of. All the audio engineer is going to need, is a recording of you singing and playing the song. Make sure your demos sound clean and are set to the official tempo you are wanting them to be in. You also want your demo tracks to follow the exact arrangement of your song (verse, pre, chorus, bridge, etc) so your band knows where they are and can follow along easily while they record their parts. Remember this, you and your audio engineer only have less than two months to get this EP done, so the sooner you get these demos to your musicians and vocalists, the more time they have to rehearse them, which means, the more confident they all will perform during the actual recording. I recorded all of my demos on my phone using the Garageband app, it's great!.
Just In Case
Whether time is on your side or it's not, do your best to get the most out of your hired musicians and vocalists. So when you schedule them for a couple of hours of recording, make sure you get at least three to four tracks recorded per section. There were definitely many moments when I would say, you know what, before we jump to the next section of this song, "Just in Case" let’s try something different here or let’s go over that again. Why is that? Well, once we have finished the entire recording phase, we then move onto the recording/tracking phase, which means we now get to pick the best tracks recorded for each parts of the song (intro, verse, pre, chorus, bridge). Remember, it's better to have it recorded and not need it after all, then to not have it recorded and wish you had something to use in that one section of the song.
Staying the Course
Staying the course means being realistic about the undertaking of any EP project. Like for instance, knowing how many songs need to be recorded, produced, and mixed and by when we need to have them done will help set the proper pace for this project. When we set a cut off date, we give ourselves permission to make the tough decisions. Because we only had less than two months to finish this EP, there were definitely moments when we had to say, "we have done everything in our creative power with the time we were given to make this song the very best it can be. We are DONE here. Onto to the next!" This isn't always the easiest thing to do. If it was up to us, we would want to work on it for another hundred hours. Sometimes, having someone to help keep us on track is always needed and great too (Thanks Ciara!). Lady Gaga said it best, when asked, "if there were ever times when you wanted to go back and change something?"
"With my records and with my music, it's always exactly where I am at and that's as honest as I can be. And if I wish I could of tweaked something in the mix here or there or sang a part a little differently...I try not to be so hard on myself about those things because the most honest thing I can be is exactly what it was." - Lady Gaga
Album projects have another side to them and it's called, promoting. This is probably the second most important part of helping your EP launch be a success. This is how your listeners will know about your upcoming album and why they should be excited about it's upcoming release. Keep in mind, you only get out of it as much as you are willing to put into it. Your probably asking, how soon should I be promoting my upcoming EP? I would say, NOW! What are the best platforms to promote this EP? (Personal Website; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, and Youtube) Here are other things to keep in mind, your listeners want to feel like they have invested and been a part of this EP journey from the moment you started to the moment it is finally released. The following are ways to doing that:
I never really took into consideration the amount of time it would take getting my Christmas EP up and running on all digital platforms, like on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play. I soon realized, that we were not going to make the release date. So what other options were available to us? Well, lucky for us, there were other platforms that could help get our Christmas EP out before Christmas (we used Soundcloud and Bandcamp). Keep in mind, that there is a real possibility that your music will not be available on all digital platforms by your release date, but at least you have these two digital platforms to help your EP make the release date for the meantime, which is awesome!
Your Music Everywhere
CDBaby and TuneCore happen to be two of today’s most popular music distributing platforms. Their mission is to help artist like you and me distribute our music to as many listeners around the world. Learn more about each of them and see which one would be a better fit for you. (watch helpful video "here")
Still got Questions
I’d be more than happy to answer any other questions you may have to the best of my abilities. So feel free to either ask here in the comments section or by email. I hope you found this blog helpful and encouraging.
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