Sylvia Massy (fearless engineer extraordinaire) posted an awesome mini-rant about "making it" in the music industry. This is practical, real world advice from a seasoned pro. It may not be the answer you want to hear, but it's the truth. Don't take this lightly; she knows a think or two...or twenty.
"A friend asked me for advice on how to break through in the music industry. He is releasing his third album. Admittedly, I don't have a magic formula for success, however there are known ways to get ahead and it is much more than writing, recording and releasing music. Consider adopting this plan after you have recorded your indie album (and let's start a discussion):
THE "HOW TO CONQUER THE MUSIC INDUSTRY" PLAN:
(Assuming you already have a kick-ass record)
Pick a release date... some time in the spring is good because you'll need several months to get ready, and spring releases won't compete with big Christmas advertisers.
Now is your chance to get yourself in shape... diet to drop weight, get your teeth fixed, get hair plugs, wear contacts, go to the gym... I am serious as hell. Whatever it takes to look like a star. You've got to be absolutely serious about this. People will judge your appearance, so please don't take this the wrong way, I'm just telling you how it is. Reinvent yourself if necessary, I've done it myself. Also, you need to be available to do this. No girlfriend, no boyfriend, no husband, no wife, no kids, no dog, and a job with flexible hours if any job at all. Ouch, yeah, that is tough.
Five months before the official release date you should have a slick website. Also a Facebook and an Instagram account that is full of interesting pics, pro graphics, intriguing stories and video.
Four months before the release of your album, book a tour. You can make your own tour by subscribing to PollstarPro.com. It is not cheap but will give you the info you'll need. Schedule your tour to start on your official release date. Post your tour dates on your website as you land them.
Three months before your album release, contact all blogs, magazines, newspapers you can find and send them a press release about your album release date. Send advance copies to album review sites. Tell them when the official release date is. Include your website in the press release. Hit all the town newspapers you will tour in. Follow up.
Two months before the release, send an advance copy to all radio stations and digital radio outlets you can find. Send advance copies to on air personalities. Check back to see that they will put your music in rotation one month before the release date to promote the release and the tour. Hit radio in all the towns you will tour in. Contact iTunes about your release and arrange to get them to release your album on the scheduled release date. Post every added station on your websites.
One month before your official release date, you should be rehearsing like mad to get a great show together with custom fashion, hair, etc. Rehearse in front of cameras and mirrors. And don't just stand there, being boring. Entertain! Record good quality live video and make a more produced music video of your first single. Put that out on your website and YouTube channel.
On your release date, start selling your physical album on your website, digitally on iTunes, Reverbnation, CD Baby and anywhere else, and start your official tour. Keep touring for the next six months, even if only on the weekends. Meet every fan at every show and make a connection. Post video clips, blog about the experience on your websites. Do as many TV appearances as possible. Hit all the festivals, plan on playing for free, just get out there. Even if it is just you and a guitar.
Over the next six months after your release date and tour, continue to release new songs every few months by offering a new music video release on YouTube. Post on your YouTube channel often. Point everyone back to your website.
Timing is everything. If you are serious these things will help take you to the next level.
The idea of getting a label to sign you because you have great music, before you have constructed this type of foundation, is a fantasy. Labels want low risk artists that come with a sales record and an existing fan base. This is how you get that started.
No matter what happens, after busting ass for a year or two you will know that you've done your very best, you will be a new person, and you will have really had a lot of fun. And maybe you'll be on your way to stardom.
What else could help an indie artist to get ahead?"
Sylvia rocks. Buy her book, RECORDING UNHINGED, and go follower her on Facebook. I guarantee, you'll laugh, you'll scratch your head, you'll ponder, and you'll absolutely learn a thing or two.
Dear Sylvia - still need to have you on the podcast. If you're reading this...know that the fans are asking, and I keep saying "one of these days..." Let's make it happen!
Kendal Osborne is the Host of the Recording Lounge Podcast and the Owner / Head Engineer at The Closet Studios