A lot of people believe that you can’t create quality music unless you’re in a professional recording studio. I usually get pissed off when someone throws that excuse in my face.
Come on… We’re living in an era where you can start a million dollar business from your bedroom!
There’s no excuse to not make great music anymore. And great music is not determined by the equipment you use.
How I went YouTube Platinum with a home-recorded song
Back in 2014, I had the pleasure of working with an artist from the Czech Republic. And together we created a song that generated over 1 million YouTube views.
It was produced in a home studio with less than $500 worth of equipment. It’s in Czech language and we released it to an audience of approximately 5 million people.
1,200,000 views! 🎉
How’s that for a successful release?
You can say what you want about the song but you can’t say it lacks quality.
He knew how to write and record his music with the equipment he had and I knew how to produce a song. The rest is history…
Money is always the issue (or excuse.)
I often hear the excuse of not having the right equipment to record quality tracks.
Yes, you do need some gear to record your music.
Computer or laptop
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Assuming most people already have a computer or laptop, you can get the rest for under $700. See this as an investment, not an expense.
It becomes an issue when artists blame the quality of their music on their equipment.
And they start to believe that the quality of their music can only be improved by going to a fancy studio.
This is not true.
In this video, R&B artist Tinashe explains how she feels about recording in her home studio.
She started off by creating mixtapes in her bedroom and is now signed to RCA Records.
“It’s interesting having a home studio because you always are under the impression that you need to be in something super, super fancy to get the best quality. But I’ve kinda come to realize that, not only am I more comfortable in my own environment, but some of the best sounding music that I’ve created has come right here out of this mic and this equipment”
Studio’s don’t make hits, artists do
You tend to believe that you need expensive equipment or a fancy studio. And I get that. We see artists recording in these studio’s, so that must be how they produce their masterpieces.
Sorry, but that isn’t the case.
Studio’s don’t create hits. Producers, writers, recording artists and engineers do. Not on their own. Together!
If you don’t have—for example—a mixing engineer yet, then that means you need to wear that hat yourself first. This is an opportunity because you will experience first hand what goes into mixing a song.
This is crucial for later when you expand your team as it will be easier to communicate.
If you’re a writer/artist, you need to focus on becoming the best writer/artist you could be.
Your equipment will only magnify the talent and potential that is already there.
Creating professional music in an amateur studio
Recording at home has its downsides. I won’t disagree because I too have experienced the struggles when you’re recording at home.
For example, your mixes sound like crap or not even close to what you hear in on the radio. You have no clue if what you do is right. You do what you think sounds best.
To avoid you from taking a road that leads to a dead-end, I’m going to give you some tips on how to do things the right way.
1. Recording Techniques
First, you need to understand what it takes to mix vocals. Only then you will find out why recording quality vocals is so important.
If you don’t know the proper techniques to record vocals, you’ll end up messing around with your mixing project for hours.
Without seeing any results.
Crucial for recording:
Performance behind the mic
Movement behind the mic
2. Vocal Production
Producing vocals is like making beats. But instead of adding new instruments, you’re adding vocal layers.
You stack layers on specific lyrics to emphasize them more.
Building up the vocal production for a chorus. E.g. adding backing vocals, harmonies or ad-libs.
It’s important to learn in which situations you should use vocals layers and in which you shouldn’t.
It’s no surprise that there are vocal producers in the industry that have made it their expertise. The vocal production is a determining factor for the potential of your song.
3. Reference tracks
The use of reference tracks is very common in music production. But it’s not about copying someone’s style. It’s about cross-referencing your song with another to measure the quality of your music.
When it comes to learning vocal production, it can help to study and analyze the acapella version of a song.
Cross-reference your vocal production to other songs and check if it sounds similar.
Reference tracks are used for mixing purposes as well.
4. Learn basic EQ, Compression and Effects ✨
Whether you decide to mix your own music or let someone else mix it for you. It’s important that you know the basics.
If you’re not sure if mixing is something you see yourself doing, at least learn the basics of mixing vocals.
There are people making a full-time living off mixing music from their bedroom studio. Which proofs that it’s not impossible to mix your music from your home studio.
Take the time to watch some YouTube tutorials as well!
Or maybe you already started out and just want to check and see if you’re on the right track. –All good with me!
Allow me to help you out getting started the right way.
First, let’s talk aboutbeingan Artist, shall we?
What is it like, being a Recording Artist?
It’s funny, though! If you ask Google this question, it comes up with the following answer:
‘Intermittent periods of unemployment’ – “I guess that’s only positive when you have a passive source of income, right?”
If I would askyouwhat you thinkit’s like being a recording artist. One of the first things that come to mind probably would be about thatLuxury Lifestyle.
The money, the fame, the fortune.
Fast cars, million-dollar mansions, and sold-out shows in stadiums filled with 50,000 people.
And that’s perfectly normal since that is the picture painted by the popular artists who are your motivation and inspiration.
But, not many of these artists tell you about their daily struggles. The pressure of delivering quality music album after album.
The hard work they’ve put in over the years. And the long road they’ve traveled to end up where they are today.
Being an established artist comes with a high-level of stress and you’re constantly working under pressure.
I’m not trying to demotivate you. I’m just saying that being an artist comes with certain responsibilities and continuously putting in, effort, and hard work.
“Are you ready for this?”
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have a personal manager to look after you. Nor are you backed by a (major) label that handles your funding.
You’re getting started as a recording artist –Independently.
Everything you need to get started as a Recording Artist
Basically, you’re flying solo towards the Land of Money, Fame and Fortune. (And don’t forget the intermittent periods of unemployment lol)
While there’s still a long road ahead of you, independently promoting yourself as an artist is not really that hard with all of the resources that are available today.
The Internet, Social Media, DIY Guides on how to promote your music.YouTubeandSoundcloud. Just to name a few.
Before you even start promoting yourself and your music, you want all the fundamentals to be in place accordingly.
That’s where my checklist comes in.
You’ll find a detailed breakdown of this list after the next paragraph.
Most common mistakes made by artists
Here are 5 most common mistakes made by artists that I see every day:
No links to (all) social media sites
Missing contact information
Incomplete profile pages on YouTube, SoundCloud and/or other Social Media platforms
No ‘call-to-action’ on profile pages
1. No links to (all) social media sites
Artists send over their music to me all the time. Mostly, SoundCloud or YouTube links. Whenever I hear something that I like, I want to hear more tracks by that artist and find out more about them.
Or at least stay updated about their activities.
Makes sense, right?
Well, the funny thing is, more than half of the artists I check out don’t have links to (all) their social media sites on their SoundCloud or YouTube page.
2. No short or long biography about the artist
I believe over 80% of these artists don’t have their real name shown in a (short) biography that tells who the artist is or where he or she is located.
3. Missing contact information
Yes, contact information! A lot of artists don’t show a contact email for bookings or business inquiries.
How am I supposed to reach out to you if I want to work with you!?
4. Incomplete profile pages
When you register to an online platform, they ask you all these questions upon signing up.
Name / Artist name?
City, State and Country?
Social Media links?
Even if these fields aren’t required to fill in before signing up, you should always do.
5. No ‘call-to-action’ on profile pages
‘Call-to-action’ sentences are SUPER important for your profile pages. This could be anything like;
– “Follow me on Instagram to watch my studio sessions”
– “LIKE my Facebook page and stay updated about my new releases”
– “New single OUT NOW! [link to Spotify]”
Sometimes people just need that extra push to make them follow you or give you their email for a free download link to your music.
Breaking down the checklist
There are so many reasons why a well-written biography is super important for your (upcoming) music career. You’re not writing a biography (only) for your future fans and followers. More importantly, you’re writing it for Music Supervisors, Record Label A&R’s, Media Agents, Booking Agents, Event Promoters etc.
A biography is just a small part of a much bigger picture.
A good biography is simply a marketing/sales tool. (rather than a chance to tell your life story)
3 types of biographies
I always say there are 3 types of biographies;
– “(1)The short version,(2)the super short version and(3)the full version” –
The short version: Basically the first paragraph of your full version.
The super short version:Something like;“Joe Johnson – Independent singer/songwriter and recording artist from Los Angeles, CA”
The version that you would use for your Instagram or Twitter profile. Or any other platform where you are limited to a maximum amount of characters.
The full version: See next paragraph.
Writing your biography
When you’re getting started as a recording artist, you probably don’t have the funds to hire a professional to write a biography for you.
I’ll show you how you can set up a good biography yourself.
First lesson –“Structure is everything!”
Like I mentioned earlier, there are 3 types of biographies and the short version is basically the first paragraph of your full version.
So, you want to make sure that your first paragraph includes a summary of all the important parts that are explained in more detail further in your biography.
The important parts and things you want to highlight in your first and second paragraph are:
Full Name + Artist name + Type of artist
Plays, downloads on recent releases (if it’s worth mentioning)
Follower count on Social Media (if it’s worth mentioning)
Collaborations (if it’s worth mentioning)
I have some pre-written examples for you. But first, let me tell you a little secret…
When it comes to biographies, most people really don’t care what age you started doing music. Or how your mum and dad were both musicians (unless they are big names in the music industry).They don’t care about why you started doing music or what your personal beliefs or life goals are.
In fact, most of the readers don’t even make it to 300 words before they skip the page.
That’s why you want to write everything worth mentioning in your first paragraphs.
Examples of how to write a Biography
Joe Johnson is an independent R&B singer, songwriter and recording artist from Los Angeles, CA. His latest EP, titled “On My Way To The Top” was downloaded over 3.500 times and has been featured on music blogs like WSHH and ThisIsRnB, who compared his sound to artists like Trey Songz and Chris Brown.
Now, with over 15.000 plays on Soundcloud and over 35.000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, Joe is working on his second project “I’m Here To Get Big” which is set to release in July 2017. On this next project, he collaborates with artists like Lil Yachty and features tracks produced by Music Producers Robin Wesley and MikeWillMadeIt.
Joe was born on November 24th, 1991 in Atlanta and moved with his parents to Los Angeles when he was 6-years old. Coming from a family of music…
Joe Johnson is an independent R&B singer, songwriter and recording artist from Los Angeles, CA. He is currently working on his first EP, titled “On My Way To The Top,” which is set to release in July 2017. Joe’s style of music is often compared to artists like Trey Songz and Chris brown. You can hear the resemblance in his latest tracks on SoundCloud, which have already got a significant amount of plays for an artist like Joe Johnson.
Determined to break into the Music Industry, Joe is working hard on his next release. As well as building up his fan base and followers on Social Media. He hopes to sign a record deal one day.
Joe grew up in Atlanta, living with his mum who was a single parent. At the age of twelve, he discovered his love for music…
When you read over these examples. Do you notice how, for example, Event Promoters or Booking Agents can simply copy and paste the first and second paragraph and post that on their website when you’re having a show at one of their events?
Or, how the first paragraph might convince a Record Label A&R to look further into you and check out more of your work?
More importantly; Do you notice how ‘boring’ the third paragraph gets?
Well, that’s exactly the point where 90% of the readers will skip the page.
“It’s just boring .. ”
Just a few more tips about writing a biography
Keep it up-to-date. New developments or goals accomplished?– “Put it in there!”
The ‘boring parts’ might be interesting for your fans in the future. It’s okay to write it of course.
Don’t make the full version too long. Keep it fun, alright?
When you’re publishing the biography on your website, use hyperlinks in the text so that the reader can easily click on it.
2. Personal Website
I’m a huge fan of artist websites. It just tells that they are serious about being or becoming a professional recording artist.
While setting up a personal website requires certain expertise, I would strongly advise to let someone build it for you. (or build one yourself)
If it’s not at all possible for you, there are always alternatives to find online. TakeBandcampfor example.
The benefits of a personal website
On your personal website, you can show tour dates, sell merchandise (when you’re ready), collect emails, create pre-order options for an upcoming release and more.
You can also upload a bunch of high-quality press photos that promoters and booking agents can download from the site. To print a flyer for the event you’re performing at, for example.
What I find most important about a personal website is that you control everything yourself. It’s rather unlikely, but if YouTube, Soundcloud and/or iTunes would disappear from the web for some reason, you can always fall back on your own website and re-direct your fans there.
All the content you need to add to your website is listed in the checklist.
3. Social Media
Every professional recording artist has healthy (growing) social channels. Social channels are available for everyone and everyone is ON social channels 24/7 too.
The best way to market yourself a recording artist, if you ask me.
Then again, setting up a social channel like Instagram or Facebook should be done with care.
We’ve already talked about short and super short biographies. Now, this is the time to use it!
If you read the paragraph of“Most common mistakes made by artists” you already learned a few things about how to set it up properly. ( I hope so)
Just breaking it down for you one more time.
All the information that needs to be on your Social Channels
Your Artist name
Your short or super-short biography
Link to your website or at least to a site where they can listen to your music
A Call-To-Action (Follow me on my Journey!)
Contact information(for bookings and business inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. Music Channels
SoundCloud and YouTube are most common and an absolute requirement these days. There might be other platforms useful as well. Of course, you can add those to the list too. Whatever works for you!
For both SoundCloud and YouTube, you can use the same things listed for Social Channels in the previous paragraph.
Just add 2 more:
Links to ALL social media accounts
For example; You can put something like“Download my new single for FREE at [url to download page]”in the description of your video on YouTube or track on Soundcloud.
5. Network & Contacts
I’m near close to writing this whole section in all capital letters and bold print.
Seriously, I’m still so surprised that so many artists aren’t working on networking, finding contacts, and building relationships with people who can make a difference in their music career.
Network and contacts are important if you want your music to be heard by the world. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Once you’ve got a list of contacts together, you’ll only have to submit your new releases to them and wait till (or if) they publish it on their sites.
And when they do ..– BOOM!-“Follower count reaching critical level”
If you’re still wondering what I’m talking about. Proceed to the next chapter.
YouTube Promoters and Music Blogs
I decided to write entire articles about topics such as YouTube Music Promoters and Music Blogs.
Also, luckily for you, I already took the courtesy of setting up a list of contacts for both of them.
Check out a separate blog post about YouTube promotes and music blogs that you can pitch to!
There might be some work in this for you, but it’s well worth it.
With a little searching around on the web, you should be able to find a few contact emails from music supervisors.
These are people where you can submit songs to and they might pick your song to get played in TV-Shows, movies or advertisements.
There’s some good money in this and it’s always good to have a few Music Supervisors in your network.
On a side note:If you’re really just starting out as a recording artist, don’t be too quick to submit your music to Music Supervisors. Your music has to be on a certain level before you decide to submit it. Saving these contacts to your list is important, but does not necessarily mean you have to exhaust all your resources right away. You might scare them away. Forever.
Who isn’t on Facebook these days?
Step 1:Type in “R&B Music” in Facebook’s search bar. (or any other genre related to your music)
Step 2:Search for groups
Step 3:Pick out the largest and most active groups and join them
Now, the next time you’re releasing new music, Kindly ask the moderator of this group if he would be okay with you sharing your music up there.
There are groups on Facebook with 10,000’s of people. All potential fans of your music.
“Ain’t that a nice audience to share your music with?”
Sign up with CDBaby or TuneCore
I already told you. You’re flying solo towards The Land of Money, Fame and Fortune.
That means that you’re basically managing yourself too. And you’re responsible for the business side as well.
We’re living in a digital world right now and recording artists no longer have to outsource distribution management and financial management.
In fact, you can do everything yourself.
Do not make the mistake of thinking you’re not ready to sign-up for these services yet.
If you are creating original music right now, there are several ways to make money from it. You probably don’t even know about it.
Without going into detail about this myself, I want you to check out the following links and read what they are all about.