Thursday, May 10, 2018


I'm still in the very early stages of my latest project. When I received an email this morning, the headline caught my eye.

Today's post from the CDBaby DIY Musician blog was titled "Ready to launch your next music project? Do these 4 things FIRST"-- I was stoked!

The article, written by Dave Kusek, is short but sweet and touches on many of the points I've been hammering on in this blog. It also breaks down and defines what exactly a 'project' might be.

I highly recommend you read the article for yourself (and sign up for Dave's webinar next Tuesday).  For the sake of brevity, I'm going to answer his 4 questions here as they relate to my forthcoming project.

1. What is the big-picture purpose of your project?

The big picture for my project is essentially two-fold.  I have a strong artistic purpose and a business purpose that I intend to go hand in hand.

The artistic purpose is to create a body of work that I am proud of.  As stated previously, this will be my first professional release in almost a decade.  Creating something that I'm proud of has always been a goal with previous releases, but with this one specifically, I need to prove to myself that I can still do this while reminding myself that this is something I'm good at.  The fact that I'm doing this alone stands only to amplify those feelings upon completion.

The other, more measurable purpose for this project is to create a residual income stream from this album by way of song placements, digital & physical sales, and other publishing royalties. More specifically, I would like this project to generate enough revenue to fund the book I'm writing. 

2. What are your goals?

To be honest, I haven't really set specific goals for this project yet.  Knowing that this project can't move forward without having written and recorded the material that will become the project-- I guess I just assumed that I would address them once that stuff was completed. 

I guess there are a few goals that have been set for this project.  I know that I want to have it ready for release on or before August 20th of this year.  I know that I want it to be at least 10 songs in total, if not more.  Outside of that, I haven't put down any SMART goals for this project.  Let's do that now.

I would like to place half of the songs from this record (at least 5 tracks) in television shows.  In the past, I have placed songs in shows on MTV, Oxygen and FOX.  That was almost a decade ago.  Flash forward to today, we have a completely different landscape in which people consume their entertainment.  Netflix, Hulu and even internet webseries are more prevalent in media than ever before.  5 unique song placements in TV by the end of 2018 will require a lot of hustle, but I feel its a tangible goal.

I've never placed a song in a film before, outside of skate videos back in high school that may or may not have ever reached an audience outside of my home town. I would like to place at least one song in a film by next year.  

Additionally, I want to ensure that the album is available on every streaming and digital distribution retailer available.  Ordinarily, this would be a monumental task unto itself-- but CDBaby really takes care of its clients by handling this.  

I have a loftier goal of raising enough capital to put a down payment on a house that will ultimately serve as host to my home studio, but I'm planning to fund that from a pool of music revenue as well as writing.  I'll have to clarify that as the book planning progresses.

3. Make an action plan

I've somewhat begun this and laid it out in previous posts.  Essentially, I'm going to plug away writing and recording over the next 3 months.  I've already got two songs completed (though, one of them is a cover song and it may hinder the project's completion by virtue of licensing and the additional capital required to release the song).  I've also tentatively completed the artwork.  

Once the material is completed and ready for production, I'm giving myself a budget of $1,000 to cover mastering, duplication and marketing.  An extremely thin budget, but that's going to be part of the challenge.  The duplication portion of the budget will go to getting a small batch of physical albums pressed, cover the licensing fees for the cover song, and paying for the PRO CDBaby! membership to get the songs into digital retailers. 

Whatever remains of the $1,000 budget will be spent on social media marketing.  I'm guessing that this will be less than $250 dollars, but hopefully that will get the word out on the album since I'm planning to do ZERO performances.  

Lastly, I intend to make a music video for the strongest song of the album.  I'm not sure how or what this video will be, I only know that I plan on doing it entirely by myself to avoid incurring any additional hits to my budget. 

4. When is the project actually finished?

The project will be actually finished when I have the physical CDs in my hands, the album is on iTunes and Amazon and all of the other prominent retailers, the advertisements have been purchased and planned, and a music video is available online.

Even for someone as engrossed with the subject of planning for musicians as I am-- Dave's article got me thinking about things I hadn't considered previously.  It just goes to show that you might consider yourself to have a good grasp of what you're doing, but when you listen and consider the advice from others while taking a big step back to get a bird's eye view of where you're heading, you might actually glean something unexpected. 

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