Musician, author, educator, and music industry consultant Bobby Borg has just launched a video series aimed at breaking down music business and marketing basics. Theses videos will tackle a multitude of topics to help you navigate and succeed in today’s music industry. This post is excerpted from the first video, “Roadmap To Release.” Read the transcript below for highlights and watch the entire video for more content and commentary.
Bobby Borg: Hey, everybody, my name is Bobby Borg. Welcome to USC’s DIY podcast studio. Today’s discussion is “the roadmap to release.” I’m going to break things down into three main categories:
- the EP
- the video, and
- the live set
I’ve got the perfect guest for this topic today, his name is Barry Squire, he’s an independent talent consultant, a former A&R executive at Warner, Columbia, and Geffen, a musician, and a drummer.
I know that a lot of people get extremely overwhelmed and stressed out when they are thinking about releasing their music, but the process can be broken down into a few important key steps. Which brings us to point number one: the EP.
Barry Squire: Be careful not to let all this overwhelm you. You’ll have a lot of people in your life — parents, partners, etc. — who might expect you to accomplish all of this in three months. A more realistic timeline is more like one to two years, and the way to deal with it is to do one thing at a time. Accomplish one thing and then move on to the next step. That way you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
The first step in all of this is to get your music recorded. That could mean collaborating with people, it could be paying money to go into a studio — anything you can do to get your music recorded when you have five, six, or seven songs. Take some of those songs and now you can call it an EP. Give it a name, do your own graphics or you find somebody who does design, and then you get distribution for your EP by using companies like CD Baby or TuneCore. You pay a nominal fee and they will put you on iTunes, Spotify, and places like that.
Bobby Borg: What would you say to people who want to release a single maybe every two weeks or every month? Do you agree with that process?
Barry Squire: That that seems to work right now, but I, personally, am overwhelmed by it. I can’t keep track of it. And I think some listeners feel like, “Oh… not another song from this person.” But, I actually think that works just fine. But, I also think that, at a certain point, you should take those songs and release an EP.
Bobby Borg: A point that’s important to think about is — not that we’re selling cars — but I kind of imagine, that, if you are selling cars, when you get someone on the lot and they’re interested in the car, you sell them the car. You don’t say, “Well, we’ll show you the wheels today. Come back tomorrow and we’ll show you the bumper…” because they might not come back. So this single release concept assumes that they’re gonna be interested enough after the first song to come back and check out the second one and then check out the third and then maybe buy a t-shirt or come to your show.
So let’s move on to point number two, which is the video. You’ve said that video is extremely important, and you talked about a number of tips and resources and advice about getting a video made.
Barry Squire: A video is mandatory. If you don’t have a video, people believe you’re not professional, you’re not competitive, you’re hiding something, you’re not in the game, you’re not up on your technology. They always want to see what you look like. It’s been that way forever in our business. Now, what a lot of people don’t understand is you don’t need to spend huge amounts of money in the beginning. You can make a video on a very low budget and if things work out, you can always come back and make a more expensive video.
So, to begin with, you don’t need a video with horses and helicopters on a beach. What you can do to create a video when you’re starting out is go to a rehearsal studio that has that facility. If you feel like you have a really strong live show, record your set and then edit it and use one or two of those songs as your video. You can also collaborate with film schools, in which case you might go to a student and see if they will volunteer their services to build up their reel. Or, you can get a friend and go to a nightclub that has an open mic night — you can do well with that. You’d be surprised how many people in the music business have friends who work in film who are also trying to build their resume.
Bobby Borg: And it’s also amazing that a little attachment on your iPhone can really make some unbelievable videos as well. And cameras are relatively inexpensive these days. I’ve seen some people go out and buy a Sony camera or a GoPro and do some pretty amazing things.
Barry Squire: Sure.
Bobby Borg: Let’s go ahead and and and talk about point number three, which is the live set. This is an important thing, being able to actually get up on stage and prove that you can deliver face-to-face, one-on-one or, hopefully, one-on-a couple hundred…
There’s lots more… watch the entire conversation!
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician (Second Edition), Business Basics For Musicians (Second Edition), and The Five Star Music Makeover (published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in both physical or digital format. Learn more at www.bobbyborg.com.
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