As I shared with you earlier, I am in the midst of writing a book called "Plan Your Band". My ultimate goal with this book is to essentially write a manuscript for my younger self when I began my music career 20 years ago.
When I started my music career, the internet was just becoming a 'thing'. Twenty years later, the internet has become not only it's own medium, but a tremendous, invaluable resource for aspiring artists.
Still, there is plenty of mystery, confusion, and plain, old misinformation surrounding the music and entertainment industries. I want my book to be a tool that provides clarity to navigate those treacherous waters.
While I have been writing this book for some time now, only recently have I decided to actually release an album to coincide with the book.
Despite a lengthy sabbatical from music, as the book project progressed, I found myself reinvigorated with a passion for music that I had not felt in some time. Plus, it makes perfect sense that I pair the book with something that displays the applied techniques from the book.
It would probably be easier to do this after the book is finished, but since music production can be a tedious process, I figured I'd do both simultaneously to ensure that both could be released in conjunction with one another.
Again, while some of the book has already been written, NOTHING has been done with regard to the music side of the project. This post marks the first real foray into the planning of that project.
Let's begin with what I plan to accomplish with this album.
For starters, I know that I'd like to create a full length album. While this was the standard for many years, it certainly looks like the industry is reverting back to the practice of many artists foregoing the album in favor of releasing a series of singles. Since the vast majority of music today is consumed by way of streaming or digital downloads, it's often impractical and cost-prohibitive to bother with releasing a collection of songs when you can promote songs individually.
The reason I've decided to go the album route is merely a personal decision. I like the idea of having a body of work that reflects a particular point in the artist's life. A collection of songs that was written and recorded within the same time frame tends to share a common vibe.
It would most definitely be easier to release an EP or a series of singles, considering that I'm writing a book at the same time, but I would strongly advise against choosing anything simply because it provides the path of least resistance. Doing so could result in feelings of regret when the project finally wraps up-- and by then, it's already too late.
So, I have that much planned already. I want to create a 10-12 song album. The next logical question I might ask myself would be "How do you plan to release this album?"
Once again, I find myself bucking industry trends. Many artists today are avoiding doing physical albums (CD, Vinyl, Cassettes) altogether. Again, unless you're a country artist, there's a good chance your fan base doesn't buy CDs anymore. Unless you're an indie artists, its likely your fans don't own record players or purchase vinyl. Plenty of artists today are making handsome livings strictly from the digital marketplace.
Nevertheless, I appreciate having a physical embodiment of the work. I like holding an album in my hands, studying and admiring the artwork while listening. I plan to not only press some CDs for this project, but for the first time in my music career, I'd like to press some vinyl, too!
That's not to say I haven't learned anything in my 20 years in the business. I plan to do short runs of each printing for the first time in my life. I had always purchased a minimum of 1,000 CDs whenever I put out music. To this day, I have boxes of unsold albums in my garage that aren't any use to anyone.
At that time, it wasn't much of a jump in price between a short-run and a thousand pressings. I optimistically thought, "Better not risk having to do a reprint once these sell out!"
With the benefit of hindsight, I think I will print no more than 300 physical copies of the album and 100 or less copies of vinyl. To be perfectly honest-- I'm not sure I even know 100 people with record players.
Along with the short-run of physical media, there is one thing I've always wanted to do with a release, but I'm still not entirely certain that it is possible yet. Well, it's possible, but I don't know how probable it is.
Discmakers, my go-to manufacturer, now owns CDBaby, a tremendous resource for independent musicians. CDBaby offers something called "Download Cards". Essentially, this is something physical that can be sold a shows that enables the purchaser to obtain the music digitally via download from the link and code printed on the card. A fantastic idea.
I wanted to take that cool idea a step further. There are companies out there that print onto cards that are filled with seeds. Once the printed item has fulfilled its purpose, they can be planted in the earth to produce flowers or other kinds of plants.
I wanted to have the download cards printed on the seed paper so that once the album is downloaded and backed up to the user's device-- they can turn the card into flowers!
I'd like to try that with this project. We'll see how that goes.
So, for now, we know that we want to create an album, press 3300 CDs and 100 vinyl and possibly obtain download cards that can be planted after use. We now have the early stages of a plan for our band.