There is lots of advice out there on how to self-release an album. Sometimes, the best move though is to not release. Here’s why.
Many independent artists choose to self-release their first single, LP, or EP in the hopes of drumming up press.
Sometimes, to self-release an album may be to appeal directly to their fan base if you’re an established artist. Other times, to self-release is to get support in order to be recognized by the major labels.
Despite the reasons to self-release music, the truth of the music business, as it stands right now, is that self-releases are not always the smart thing to do and they don’t always work. In fact, they can mean releasing records that low-quality and where the promotions are poorly managed.
To Self-Release An Album Means You’re Trusting Your Own Voice
Having a record executive make key decisions on your music is not something you want as an artist. Any artist wants control over their own work.
The thing is though, when you don’t have a producer in the recording studio or album release process to bounce ideas off of, some artists don’t know the quality of the material they have. Some artists also need to be challenged to make their songs better or need to be shown what material is worth releasing.
Not having that choice and trusting your own voice without intervention can mean regret in the long-term, i.e. putting out poor-quality choruses that don’t work, sets of lyrics that could be better, or production that doesn’t meet industry standards.
You Don’t Have Inside Knowledge On When Or How To Self-Release An Album
If you do not know when the best time is to release your music, the best method to release your music, how to generate momentum for you as an act, and how to capitalize on that momentum, you are taking a big gamble on self-releasing.
When you work with a label, they know the key ingredients in how to generate success for an artist and will be able to assist you in navigating through these waters, maximizing all available opportunities surrounding your release.
A record label also has lots of relationships and knowledge that you, as an inexperienced artist, do not yet have.
Self-Released Material Is Unlikely To Be Heard By The Music Industry
When most unestablished artists self-release material, they find themselves in a bit of a conundrum struggling to get it heard by anyone who isn’t already connected to them.
Getting their material Spotify attention and on radio, getting it attention and reviewed online and in magazines, and getting your name out there is a lot more difficult when self-releasing.
Anyone can put out a song on the internet. The music industry doesn’t care. There are billions of songs on Spotify.
You Rely On Your Own Money To Self-Release Which Is A Big Risk
This is the biggest issue. Saving up enough to record and self-release an album does not consider unforeseen expenses. No matter how well you are planning your release, there will always be unforeseen expenses.
If you don’t have the financial support and the money you need to overcome these hurdles, they can sink your record release in a matter of seconds leaving you with a bunch of effort invested into something that never yielded a thing.
Connect with a record label or other stakeholders that can aid you in properly releasing your music.
Record Labels Give You Instant Credibility, Immediate Resources, & Support
The real value of a record label is that it gives you credibility in the industry and it gives you a team of people that are working for you.
A record label will already have contacts in key industry positions, will be able to get your music heard, and will be able to promote your music in the most advantageous promo spots available.
This is not to say that self-releasing is a bad model or that it is not right for some people. If you already have an audience, already have a team in place, and are content being at the level of popularity you are at, self-releasing can help to sustain interest on the part of your fan base.
What self-releasing an album often won’t do is build your fan base.
You don’t need to sign with one of the majors to get the benefits of a record label. Signing with an independent can be just as effective. Look at any artist and they belong to a label of some kind.
To Self-Release Or To Not Self-Release – Think About It Carefully
Have a team backing you when you release your music. That’s the smartest way to handle a self-release.
If you want to be successful in the music business, self-releasing should be treated as a last resort and even then, should not be attempted if you do not have some sort of established audience in place. Otherwise you will invest too much of your time, effort and money into something that is not going to lead anywhere.
You put time into your music. Give it the best chance at success. Self-releasing comes with the high likelihood that the music will come out, be heard by a few, and then disappear into the millions of songs and records already out there.
Be smart. Do your research. Get your music out in front of the right people with the right label and team behind you.