Self Releasing Your Music

music

#1

Hey all. Looking to hear your experiences in the DIY world of music. Have any of you guys released a physical copy of your music? Like a 7"/12"? How did you find the process?

I’ve been home recording for a while and feel like I could cobble together enough music for a single or EP release. Its been a bit of a dream on mine to self release something, be it a single, full length or whatever, and then try and sell it at the local music store or something.

What do you think? I’ve sourced suppliers for this and the price doesnt seem so bad to make a run of 100 or something. But its not like I’m in a band or anything, and I have zero online presence… I suppose you have to start somewhere?


#2

if you’re just getting vinyl made to have something to keep then by all means fire in, but if you’re hoping to at least cover your costs it’s maybe worth waiting till you have at least a small online following that you could try and sell directly to via bandcamp alongside trying to get it stocked in your local record shop(s)


#3

There is no need for me to post what I was about to.

jobby


#4

Having a time of it at work so can’t really answer fully, but some of us on the forum launched an electronic / ambient / experimental label a couple of months back (Disintegration State). We’ve put out a couple of things on CD but most has been digital only at this point.

Unless you’re gonna go out and play live, I think a social media presence is essential. We’ve had by far the most traction via Twitter where we’ve (virtually) met an incredibly supportive community of DIY labels and musicians. Also being a collective has really amplified our collective voices - e.g. we’ve had a lot of play on Irish radio because one artist has strong links in that scene, or @sheeldz linking into something like the Twoism forum via his podcasting activities. And, pure and simply, I think people take a label more seriously simply by virtue of being a label. That’s not to say you can’t go it alone - plenty do, but just some unstructured food for thought.


#5

Not so worried about covering costs, just looking to get out there and see what happens. Was thinking of throwing some to the local community radio/blog peeps to get it out there. Might have a look into bandcamp too, thanks for the tip!


#6

Thanks for the tips. Yeah I might see if I can get a band together but for now I’m defs only a solo home recordingy outfit. Strange, twitter is not one of the last formats I would have thought useful lol!


#7

We’re doing insta and facebook as well. I think that Twitter has better connectivity with the way likes, retweets and notifications work.


#8

posting or giving away vinyl to radio/blogs would be like wiping your arse with £20 notes if you ask me

if you’re trying to get more exposure, airplay etc you’d be better targeting select blogs, journalists, radio stations, DJ’s etc with a well put together electronic press kit, i’d imagine most are so overwhelmed with submissions already that you have to make it as easy as possible for them to listen to whatever you’re punting and receiving something on vinyl might make them even less likely to listen to something*

*there’ll obviously be exceptions to this


#9

Yeah, this. There are folks on the forum who write reviews who may have thoughts on the promotional side of things. @colossalhorse writes for Echoes & Dust and has been driving our promo efforts, for example.

The other reason to get involved on the social media side is that it’s gonna give a feel for just how much noise there is to cut through to be heard. I don’t mean to be negative in this respect but more to put in context what stores, reviewers, and bloggers are facing in terms of the volume of music.


#10

Ha ok. I think I’ve romanticized this process a wee bit. I guess I will look into building something online before I go headfirst into a release. Thanks!


#11

Yeah, none of this is meant to dissuade you :slight_smile: As I say, we’ve just started out on our own ‘journey’ and it’s been bloody lovely. It’ is also hard work and the the ratio of promo emails to responses is tough at times. But every time someone connects with the music it’s the best feeling, and I can’t overstate how much fun it has been throwing ourselves into the vibrant community of indie labels and artists on Twitter in particular.

With Bandcamp it’s free to sell music digitally so there’s basically nothing to stop you getting your project off the ground. And then you’ll get out what you put in, whether it’s through your local scene, the internet, or whatever.


#12

Cool, thanks for the words of encouragement. I’ll have to check out your label too.


#13

Yeah, promoting releases is tough however you go about it. As much as I’d like to believe if something is good enough it’ll eventually get heard there’s so much good stuff coming out right now it’s obscene. It’s impossible to keep tup. Even small-ish blogs have a, ‘we can’t respond to all emails’ disclaimer on their contact page - everyone is getting flooded with stuff all the time. You should see the Echoes & Dust editors inbox, it’s mental. The good news is it’s easier than ever for someone to check out your stuff once you’ve put it up online but the bad is that without a label behind you or someone reasonably well connected shouting about you chances are it’ll get lost in the shuffle.

It is doable to do a successful self release though - Echoes and Dust review loads. You just need to happen upon someone who’s into stuff similar to what you’re doing and catch them when they have time to not only check your stuff out but write/podcast etc about it as well. If you do go down the self-release route all I can suggest is make sure your emails/tweets/facebook messages to media outlets are bullshit free, to the point and if possible tailored for each target. And be prepared to send a lot of them. And definitely get on Twitter - I’ve had fairly poor results thus far with emails but as Disintegration State gets a reputation I’m hoping that’ll change because people will have a reason to download our stuff once they’ve heard the name. And once they do that’ll largely be down to @aphextwinkletoes’ twitter game in chatting to people on there. It’s so much quicker and easier for people to Tweet about something they’re digging and much more likely it’ll get eyes on it than a review will. Which pains me to say as a reviewer but that’s just how it is. Word of mouth is way more powerful and it travels fast on there.

This is all a bit rambling and I’ve no idea if any of it is useful.


#14

All useful info, cheers!


#15

Hi davy

When I self released I also didn’t have a band or play live. Yes I had some social media following but putting my album in my local record shop (Piccadilly records in Manchester) is what sold it.

Got loads of radio play etc from it… They have a massive mailing list that they list all new releases with a small review and song clips. We sis 50/50 on albums sold.

Sold 300 copies through them but saying that this was a cd so maybe not such a big outlay on the first place


#16

Cool. The city I live in (Saskatoon, Canada) is pretty small and doesn’t have much in the way of a scene (though I’m sure the locals would disagree lol). We have a small vinyl store that deals in up to date music, pretty much the only spot in town that does so. They were who I was gonna approach.

Might still do so after I do some online grafting :stuck_out_tongue:


#17

I’ve been doing a bit of this for a while now. I wouldn’t really bother doing physical releases unless you are planning on doing a string of shows (a tour, or sporadic dates - as long as they’re not all in the same town!). This is because distributing your own physical stuff around is a full time job in itself and for DIY type acts I find most shops will only do sale or return. So if you do get loads of stuff stocked, it’s a lot of work to keep on top of where it is and chasing up to see if it’s sold. Of course, people do buy physical stuff direct, but not much compared to off the merch table in my experience (unless you’ve got shit loads of press or someone working for you).

Physical formats are the best though. I’ve always been a bit underwhelmed by tape and 7" sales (even though I personally love these formats and they’re quite affordable up front). CDs seemed to do consistently well until last year for me. But 12" LPs do the best, I’ve found - but it’s a big outlay if you haven’t at least got a lil label helping you out. I also use Bandcamp (it’s the best!). And Tunecore for digital distribution to Spotify etc (good for promo imo).

Re: press. Find writers who write about similar artists and contact them direct if you can. Same goes for radio shows and podcasts.

Ultimately, the best thing when you’re doing it alone is to try and engender a community. Talk to other acts doing similar stuff. Put them on in your town. Engage in dialogue with folks who buy your stuff or come to your shows. Collab. with people on splits and mixes etc. Send people bonus materials and gifts (zines, badges) if they buy direct. Ask other similar acts if they wanna swap CDs/albums etc.

DIY for me isn’t just booking my own shows or making my own albums, it’s kind of the creation of a whole world. It’s great. Make a narrative. Make a label. Invent a genre. It is a great time to be a DIY musician :slight_smile:


#18

If you’re playing lots of gigs then go for it. People will buy a good record/CD at a gig. But you have to be gigging regularly to sell them and make the money back. Getting distribution into shops will be difficult, if not impossible, however - unless you know someone with a proper label who can put it through their account for you.


#19

maybe just go into the shop anyway and ask if they get many people coming in dropping stuff off? knowing piccadilly records i bet this is what @stickboy did


#20

indeed - it was sale or return there so nothing to lose apart from storing a few cds