Professionalism - Finishing An Album & Communication
Finishing An Album
Throughout the years of engineering, I have learned the "right" way to finalize an album for an artist. It seems as if most artists just expect high quality WAV and/or MP3 mixes or masters from their engineer. However, that is the most basic of what they SHOULD be requesting. There are different mixes that every artist should want/need from their engineer/studio:
Album mix, Radio Edit mix, Instrumental mix, Acapella mix, and Performance mix.
Album mix - this is the mix that appears on the album; this is the main mix.
Radio Edit mix - this is a mix that is edited to remove words that would cause an issue on the radio (often called a Clean Mix); also, this mix may be slightly different sonically to work better with how music sounds over the radio, though that is not always necessary
Instrumental mix - this mix is just the instrumental without the vocals; this is important when sending music to a DJ because it allows them to mix vocals from another song over top of your song; this also may be requested by vlogs, video producers, tv, film, etc
Acapella mix - this is a mix of just the vocals without any instrumentation; this is important when sending music to a DJ because it allows them to put your vocals on top of another instrumental
Performance mix - this is for live performances (sometimes this and the instrumental could be the same); the main vocals are removed or turned down a lot while ad-lib vocals, background vocals, and layers are kept to fill out the sound; also, this should be worked out with the engineer in case you want to only perform a certain part of the song or if there's a feature that you won't always have live; for a band, this could be backing tracks like synths, background vocals, additional percussion, and/or a click track.
Now, you may not always need all of these mixes for every track, but it's important to know when you want/need these extra versions of your song.
It's also important to let your engineer know that you will need these mixes from the very beginning. If you reach out to an engineer the day before your performance to tell them that you need a performance mix, they will likely NOT be able to fit it into their schedule. So my overall point is...PLEASE PLAN AHEAD.
(I will be writing another blog about planning ahead in the near future).
There is a problem that I have been noticing lately, and I'm afraid that it is preventing many great artists from getting the opportunities that they may deserve.
That problem? ... Communication.
I see many artists that don't communicate effectively, professionally, or consistently.
I often receive emails, messages, comments, etc. from artists that I can barely understand. Even on the pretty rare occasion that capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and spelling are correct...there's still missing information or they are coming at the opportunity in a highly unprofessional way.
Here are some examples of what NOT to do:
-"hey man, chek out my dope new single. u'll love it! [link to soundcloud]"
-"like this status if I should drop this FIRE new track!"
-(email) "[link to youtube video]" - no context, no name, no info
These methods of "promoting" your music are ineffective. Most people don't like music to be thrown in their face (unless they asked). They like to find it on their own or from their friends playing it or recommending it. You should strive to get your music in front of their face without throwing it at their face. Additionally, if you are going to send your music to someone (whether as a business opportunity or just to gain a fun), please please please include some info/context. Just sending someone a link is very unprofessional, impersonal, and unattractive.
Outside of speaking/typing correctly and with a professional tone, it's important to always include important information when talking to someone who has advertised an opportunity for artists (this could include DJs, radio hosts, booking agents, blogs, magazines, social media accounts, even artists that you want to work with).
The BEST thing to do is to create an Electronic Press Kit (EPK), which is a file that someone can open and learn everything about you as an artist: artist name, location, where the artist is from, links to social media, links to music videos, links to music on major platforms, important events such as radio spots, interviews, etc, released/upcoming projects/albums, and anything else they could possibly want to know.
Here's an example of an EPK we put together for our artist Dcasso:
(This is just an image, the actual version which is a PDF is interactive - meaning you can click it and go directly to social media pages, videos, music, etc)
But Ash, I can't afford to have an EPK created! I'm a starving artists...what can I do?
If you can't afford to pay someone to make you an EPK (we are here to help by the way ;])... you can basically create an faux-EPK in an email. Save an email template that includes LINKS to your social media, to your music, to your youtube, etc (you can use a link shortener to keep it simple) ...make sure it includes a short bio about you and any information that you would put in your EPK. Save this and use it/modify it when communicating with people.
Another key thing when communicating is to understand WHO you are talking to. For instance, if you are emailing a DJ, then you should include your EPK as well as the correct files for the song you want them to use: album mix, radio edit mix, instrumental mix, and acapella mix.
If you are emailing a radio host/channel, you should introduce yourself, mention what you have going on, and of course, include your EPK.
It's also important to show gratitude. If you come off as entitled and bigger than you truly are, people can smell through the bullshit...especially if your message/communication is unprofessional.
If professional "isn't your style" or you don't think that communication is your strong point...find someone that can represent you, whether that's a manager, a friend, a fellow artist...find someone who can speak to professionals. This, included with the proper format of your information as an artist can go a LONG way when trying to find new opportunities.
One of the biggest factors in finding/creating opportunities as an artist is the amount of work you put in communicating and networking with people. Every day, you should send MULTIPLE emails to people. People cannot offer you an opportunity if they've never heard of you. If you can get your information/music in front of them and it's presented EFFECTIVELY and PROFESSIONALLY...you are likely to get their attention.
Every email/message is an "at bat", and you can't get on base if you're not at the plate to swing. Even if you strikeout 100 times...that 1 time you get a hit, you have a chance to get on base. MAYBE you'll hit a run home run...the point is, you can't even get on base if you're not at the plate swinging. (Sorry for the whole baseball analogy...I don't even like baseball)
So please, take my advice. Many of you are great artists, but when you talk to people who could advance your music career, you come off unprepared and not serious about your career and your craft. Make the effort to communicate effectively...professionally...and consistently!
If you have ANY questions...if you need ANY help...if you want ANYTHING from us, please CONTACT US. We would love to help you any way that we can!