9 Things to Consider When Launching an EP
Probably the most nerve-wrecking bit about being an independent musician is finally pushing out that EP you’ve been working on for a long, long time. How will people respond to your work as a whole? How can you, as the maker and seller of your own music, ensure that people will know about the EP release? And where on the Internet might they preview your songs and hopefully, buy your work?
Image credit: Favim.com
There are so many things to consider in the months and weeks leading up to the launch, and here we have 9 for you to keep in mind. This, of course, is all assuming that you already have the songs you need in a track list, remixed, remastered and ready to go.
1. Registering for Copyright
Copyright is the exclusive right given to the owner of a copyright for a specific period, and it’s important that all artists – especially budding, independent musicians – register for the copyright of all the songs that they have created. Copyright registration varies across different countries – in Malaysia, for instance, copyright registration involves the submission of relevant forms to the MyIPO, while in the UK, musicians will have to register with PRS and/or PPL to license their work for public performances. There’s also the “Poor Man’s Copyright”, however, where you can simply send your work to yourself via mail in a sealed envelope (this is not recommended). By copyrighting your work, you are ensured that none of your own work can be used without your permission.
2. Digital Distribution
Image credit: BandCamp
In the age of the Internet, it is impossible to sell simply by relying on a physical CD-only release of your EP. Most independent musicians, in fact, rely entirely on digital distribution to ensure that the album gains maximum exposure across a number of different channels. These channels normally include iTunes, Spotify and BandCamp, as well as SoundCloud for online streaming. Once your album is available across these four platforms, everything else is left to fate, luck, and the dedication of your fanbase. Most people however recommend working with a digital distribution company well in advance of the EP’s launch date; in fact, it is ill-advised to hire multiple distribution companies at a last-minute scramble, for that could very well result in botched jobs and multiple copies of the same album on a single platform, which could prove confusing and ultimately unprofessional.
3. Photoshoots / Pictures
The next thing you have to seriously consider is promotion, and unfortunately the reality is that listeners like to match the song with a visual component. That and, your EP will most definitely need a cover of some sort. Remember to book a photoshoot and discuss with your band members (if you have any) what the overall look is not just for the band, but for the EP specifically, and how you’d like to appear on promotional posters and articles. Even total recluses, such as Sia and Daft Punk, end up relying on striking visuals and looks as an alternative to showing their faces to the public.
4. Online Presence
Image credit: FMYLBND, Facebook
Nothing helps an independent musician more than sheer word of mouth: all it takes is a well-timed release and a set number of likes and mentions to really drive up buzz in anticipation for an eventual release. Facebook, of course, is a must – Twitter and Instagram are helpful as well, but as apps they are ultimately not as versatile as Facebook. Its Pages tool can help musicians analyse activity, likes, and views on their wall’s posts, as well as provide links for direct purchase to your songs. Finally, an official website can be good for listing down news, tour dates, links to online retailers, social media networks, and even a merchandise store.
When you have an official website, you can also start building a newsletter. A well-crafted, well-maintained one can go a long way in sending updates to your listeners when they aren’t checking in to any of your other social media sites or official website. When Lykke Li was preparing the release of her third album, I Never Learn, she did so first by sending out an EDM that in turn prompted subscribers to turn to her website, where she quietly announced the upcoming release of her third album. The Canadian band Stars, as well, often relied upon newsletters to give their fans first access to news, promotions, and even download links to exclusive, free singles.
An amazing newsletter to use is GetResponse, which is an email newsletter service we us on Audio Mentor as well.
6. Marketing Tactics
This is where you start to engage third parties in order to help generate buzz in ways you could never do on your own. Armed with an album cover, photographs of your band, and an online presence, the next step is to start contacting media outlets and members of the press to see if they’d like to cover you in a feature or news item. Now, the media only likes to cover newsworthy items, and so your job is to provide them with a new angle, talking point, or a key item about the upcoming EP or development of the band for the media to build a story around. There are also other ways to make the sale of your EP interesting: prize contests, fan competitions, pre-order bundles and IndieGogo campaigns can go a long way in building up hype for a product.
7. Music Videos / Singles
This is where YouTube comes to the fore. It’s where most musicians get discovered these days, and it’s considered mandatory for an EP to have a lead single that would not only give you higher name recognition and plays, but also an opportunity for listeners to anticipate how the rest of the album might sound like. There are many ways to build up the hype around an EP’s lead single as well: the first is a simple video with nothing but the audio of the single; the second is a lyric video, where the video is relatively simple one with the song’s lyrics as its main focus; the third is a full music video, which would require time, money, and effort to direct, shoot, and edit. What you end up with ultimately boils down to how much of yourself you can afford to give to your work.
Image credit: MerchMusic.com
There are also other ways in which your fans and listeners can support you: T-shirts, tote bags, and handmade items can all make for unique offerings that help in turning your name into a brand. A hot tip for helping fans purchase various bundles of merch along with your CD is by signing up with MerchMusic.com: it allows you to print self-stick labels on your merch that grants buyers download codes to your music, eliminating the need for physical CDs altogether, and even online retailers like iTunes and BandCamp.
Finally, in the weeks before and after the launch of your EP, it’s important to get a booking agent to secure some live gigs so that you may gain exposure from people who might not know you yet. Physical CDs may slowly become obsolete, but a physical presence on stage can do the most in convincing people that you’re the musician they’ve been waiting for the whole time. Touring might be nerve-wrecking, and you might get a serious case of stage fright – but the stage is where a performer belongs, and the mosh pit is where devotion ultimately lies.
This article is a guest post contributed by online shopping cashback site, ShopBack Malaysia.