Where to begin..
Ok. So you've written some songs, rehearsed them to death with your band, and think that it's time to go forward.
Well, the first thing you are going to do is obviously record it. The biggest mistake any band could make at this crucial stage is to put their first product out that sounds shoddy. It degrades your band from the out-set and makes it very hard for anyone who has looked at you to come back for a second peek. So don't make this mistake. Most studios will do a half decent recording of 3 tracks for around the $500 mark onwards. You may find cheaper.
The first thing they will say to you is, 'have you guys practiced to a click?' in where most bands reply, yeah sure, we're tight'. Being able to play to a click and actually sounding good while you're doing it are two completely different kettles of fish. Studios want you to do this so that editing can be simpler, and the music isn't all over the place. But unfortunately, getting the song's 'feel' right while trying to nail every note perfectly in time is a skill aquired over many practice sessions, more for some than others. So what do you do? You don't want a crap product that sounds like someone has patched the song all together, but you can't play it sloppy either, or your name is mud.
Well, have you played any gigs yet? Have you got someone to record it with a crappy tapedeck or even their phone? Listening to yourselves play is the best way to judge your progress. The only honest opinion you'll get is from that recording. So does it sound any good? Think you could turn that into your first CD? To be sure, you should take your rough recording down to a couple local studios and give them a listen. Don't go showing it to anyone else yet though. Don't forget. You are looking for professional opinions at the moment. Showing friends/relatives will only give you mis-guided information and may steer you down a dark path. Most studios will listen to it for nothing, and give you a good critique of your stuff. If you are told by several reliable sources that your band needs more practice before recording, don't be stubborn, and just try harder! The more work you put in at this stage will benefit you on the long run.
Getting your band members to practice to some sort of timing implement is never a bad thing. You should fit some of this into your practice every time you do it. It will only make you better.
So we have 2 scenarios here. Your band sounds really good live, pumps out the energy, but can't quite keep it together to a click. We recorded our second E.P. live with no click. Why did we do this? Because it sounded better than something we played to a click. It's all about the end product. If you made 2 CD's of identical songs, one to click and one without in a live scenario, and the live one sounds better, why would you pick the lesser product because of the fact? You wouldn't. It's what sounds better wins. So if your band isn't quite up to scratch with the click style of recording, a live set is your next best bet. and if you can't pull that off, then just keep up the rehearsals until you can.
Scenario 2 is playing to a click and letting the poor studio guy spend hours making you do little takes of the song and patching it all together to resemble something that sounds like the original song. But that's going to cost you, as people find it hard to work for free.
If you are proficient at playing to a click, then you have nothing to worry about!
Assuming that you now have a product in your hand that everyone in the band is happy with, it's time to market your product. You need to get your new music to some ears, so how are you going to do this? Let's start with the band competitions. There are more vultures in the music industry than there are artists. That's right. They outnumber us, 10-1. To find someone that is truly going to help you get anywhere without ripping you off is slim at best. Impulse decisions with your new material can be your downfall 10 minutes after you finish recording the material.
So there's a band competition down at the local pub. First prize is $2000. Sounds awesome, we could use that to duplicate some copies of our new CD!! Well, 90% of those band competitions require you to pre-sell 30-100 tickets, which you have to buy up-front. Then there's 3 or 4 heats. Times that by $15-$30. If your band can get 30+ people to every gig no problems, then you're laughing. But..they are all your friends and relatives, who have probably heard all your stuff 20 times over while you were writing it. Hell, even their friends have heard it a couple dozen times, so they'll only come to 'support' you.
But how many new ears are actually hearing your brand new material? It would be lucky to scrape over the 10% mark. And there's no guarantee they are going to buy a CD when you finally get it printed up. No, from the beginning, you need genuine fans. People who get involved with your band, because they heard one of your songs, and are 'in to it'. You win that $2000 from the competition, and use it to print the CD's, but you are 1 in 100 bands who will acheive this. Everyone else wasted their time and money.
Being the loser here did not get your band anywhere.
So how do we get genuine fans? John starts up a business selling hats. He letterbox drops his area, with a well printed brochure, gets a flyer in as many public bulletin boards as he can, and even walks the shopping centres in his area, trying to talk people into buying his hats. He sells a few in the first month, things are looking great! But...the people in the shopping centres are now all wearing his hats. Even the people who ordered them from the letterbox droppings have all got hats, and don't need anymore. John has to move to another area, which is going to cost more in travel, time etc. So someone walks up to John and says, 'hey man, I gotta show you something' and produces a laptop with the google homepage with a funny blinking thing in the box.. Well, now a days, John sells 15 varieties of hats to 40 countries, owns a big warehouse down the street, and is expanding all the time...
The internet is the greatest thing to happen to business in the last 2000 years, and it will be marked as a special time in our history books. So let's turn John into your band, and let's turn his hats into CD's. But at this moment in our story, we have 3 songs on a disc. No image, no name. Nothing. It's going to prove quite tough to sell the product like this. Picking the name for your band can be a hard thing, and there are many things to consider before you do it. The first thing I would do is see if the domain name has been grabbed. You have to think of the marketing, how many other bands out there have the same name? Is it common enough to be picked up several times for other businesses? Sit in front of a computer, and see. A domain costs around $10 to aquire, and can sit there until you're ready, but you don't want to go through all that trouble to find out your band is living in someone elses shadow.
Once you have your name, it's time to sort out the Font you will be using, and the 'logo' of the band. Something that brands all your products just by looking at it. There are many articles on the net on how to make a captivating logo, I suggest reading some of them or get a graphic artist to design one for you. You can get a logo designed for as little as $50-$200. a bargain for something that will last your bands lifetime. Now the CD has a cover, some artwork and is ready to be put on both physical and digital shelves all over the world. But who's going to buy em? They going to walk in the shop and just grab it? Ever tried to browse itunes looking for new material? It is daunting. No, your best bet is to get your music 'supporting' artists out there on radio stations.
Internet radio has taken the world by storm. You can listen to it on your phone, they are making car stereos which can pick them up. Pretty soon, your run of the mill radio station is going to have some fierce competition, and you want to get in while it's easy. There are a multitude of internet radio stations out there that will get your music played beside famous bands that your music sounds good with, while gathering new fans and e-mail addresses world-wide. Jango is a perfect example of this. Check it out, and see what they have to offer. We have fans all over the world from this site, along with all their e-mail addresses. There are more of these type of stations popping up every day.
So you have your CD, are you trying to get back the money you spent on it by selling it? Fool. Your first CD is the most powerful promotional tool ever given to you, and you're going to keep it locked up in a cupboard somewhere in your band room unless someone gives you $5-$10 for it. Here's an idea. GIVE IT AWAY. Find someone on youtube who uploads frequently, and ask them if they would like to use your song as a soundtrack. All you ask is a link to your site in the comments box. I just made that up from the top of my head. But if their channel has loads of subscribers, your music is getting to them in one upload. Which brings us to our next problem. Heaps of people like the music, but they have no-where to buy it. Looks like we have to build ourselves...
A Website! What should it contain? Free stuff is good. Give em the first CD as a high quality download. If you only ever write one, this may not be the best idea, but if you are a true artist, it won't be. Get a good band shot, film a couple of You Tube videos, and make some merch, you now have a shop front! There are many tools out there to sell merch and CD's (even hard copies) with little effort on your behalf. Reverb Nation is a perfect example. It'll take you hours to set it up, but what a powerful tool, and they are improving it all the time. From there you can sell merch, get notified about gigs on offer, and even do some e-mail marketing.
I'm not saying not to do live gigs. All the tools above are in some hope that people in your own city get wind of your stuff, and you can actually hold a show with an audience. Which brings us to the live scene. You've now done all you can on the computer, there are many other methods which can be quite time consuming, like spamming in MMO's. Just leaving your bands name or web address in your comments on forums or in bio's can grab an internet browser and maybe get them to check your site out. But what about these live gigs? You'll need em. Alot of em. But there is no point getting shafted. There's two types of venues. There's the lazy venue, who won't even advertise the events they have coming up, and expect you to sell an obscene amount of tickets, usually leaving you out of pocket. Then there's the other venue, who has the stage in good exposure, and has a natural crowd coming there anyway, regardless of who's playing. Hard to find the latter, but they are out there. In the end, bars that are venues need bands to fill their stages, and if they get bands who are crowd pleasers, they'll get you back. The live scene gets tougher every year, people can do more in their homes year after year, so my final suggestion is, get them in their homes, and try to pull them out.
Swearhouse Studios also offers these steps from the first idea to the last. We also have an extensive community including our up-coming You Tube series, The Batt n' Andy TV and radio show, regular gigs held at the studio and in venues around Melbourne and even regional shows.
So make a booking through the contacts page and we'll see what we can do for you!