Sorry for my bluntness. This is a quick point about the importance of finishing/releasing your album or EP. I often receive submissions from artists seeking promotion to music media. I’m always excited to take a close listen to new music, and sites like Soundcloud are an excellent way to preview an artist. They provide a perfect opportunity for artists to showcase their work for stream or download, but just like anything else, this shouldn’t end up as an excuse to be unorganized. Think of sites like Soundcloud as your online resume.
When I check into an artist and they have an endless list of songs, I’ll ask them what they were looking to promote. Usually the answer I get is “Oh, I just want to generally promote myself and see what happens.” The best question I get is “Can you shop this page around?”
Well, not really. Here are some reasons you should set a timeline and release your damn album!
1) It will make you appear professional. Think about it. All of the artists you admire have a name, a face (or an image), possibly a logo, and they most definitely have an album or EP. Compiling your songs and representing them in a professional way shows that you care about your work enough not just to slap it on a website haphazardly, but there is actually some thought, care, and possibly meaning, put into it. In releasing an album you’ve decided to at least take part of the plunge necessary to bring your art to other human beings. Leaving random songs strewn across social networks and hosting sites indicates confusion and indecision, whereas the presentation of, say, an album stream (on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, etc) is professional and appealing. It tells a story.
2) It is the opposite of procrastination. It is a confident action, a footstep leading to whatever is next. If you don’t take this step, no other opportunities will come your way. No videos. No special editions. No fan clubs. Nothing to sell when you play live. Many artists talk endlessly about mixing and mastering, but you can tell that they’re indecisive, and that even if they finish their album they won’t invest anything into the promotion of said record. There is currently an over-emphasis on production, so what you end up with is a lot of well-produced music that no one will ever hear. Focus on the passion. Quality is over-rated and the industry is over-saturated. Do something different and don’t be afraid to be raw. Terrible quality? Who cares? Make it meaningful and truly charged, and let it loose to the public.
3) It removes you from esoteric thinking. It’s specific. If you release an album, you now have a specific product. Just as you can’t go to the store and buy “a thing”, you can’t really market “some songs”, unless you’re thinking of the publishing or licensing sides of the industry. If you never finish your album, you will never have anything to promote.
4) It motivates you and the people around you. We all know someone who is always “working on” a project, whether it be an album, a book, or an artistic work. At a certain point, you know they’ll never finish, because they’ve dissipated all their energy by talking about it. They’ve already generated all the love they need from your feedback about their ideas. If you can be the person who keeps their head down and finishes your project, you will inspire and motivate not only yourself and the people involved with your project, but others too.
5) Because no one cares. We’ve grown up in strange times. Musicians see their heroes recording for months at a time, walling themselves off in expensive studios, and releasing album trailers to the acclaim of millions of adoring fans. A certain mythology has developed around the event of releasing an album. This mythology has led artists to do some crazy things, among them thinking it has to be ‘perfect’, or thinking they need to hoard their work. But if no one is waiting for your album, just do. Do your album as the wind blows. For no reason and with no cause. Get it done simply because you love it, and the promotion side will come naturally (because if you love your art, you should promote it). If no one cares, let that free you, and then, let them care because you do.
James Moore is a Canadian music promoter and author of the bestselling independent musician’s resource guide “Your Band Is A Virus! Behind-the-Scenes & Viral Marketing for the Independent Musician”. www.independentmusicpromotions.com