Promotion

How to get my music (in this case the first single) out there.
Spent the last three days submitting the track to blogs, social media, online reviewers, radiostations, etc… I hate this. It’s like taking an exam or doing a job interview over and over again. Selling yourself is hard, but it’s a very important part of making music these days.
Having an online presence, getting involved, reaching out to the public, building an audience. Phrases you hear over and over again when it comes to promoting your music.

It is basically a lot of effort for very little return. But maybe that will change in time, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have to pace myself. I need to find the balance here. Because the stress and tension is really bad for me and it is manifesting itself physically. (Less and lighter sleep, soar muscles and other symptoms you don’t want to know about). I need to listen to – and be more like – my cat and relax!

But, every little bit counts! And once in a while you get a compliment from someone who discovered your music and really liked it. And it’s not just a ‘thumbs-up’ on FB or a generic comment to get more traffic on their own page. That really helps and it reminds me why I am trying to get my music heard.

I want to spread some of the joy I had making it!

Single

‘What If’ is the first single from the upcoming album. Avid readers of my blog already knew that. But what many of you may not know is how much work that entails. Let me try to sum up the different steps in releasing a single.

  1. Writing and composing the song (obviously)
  2. Recording the demo version
  3. Producing (thank you Pedro De Bruyckere)
  4. Double-checking lyrics (thank you Andreas and Paul Indigo)
  5. Recording final version
  6. Mixing
  7. Mastering (thank you Pieter De Wagter)
  8. Creating artwork (thank you Jook)
  9. Some paperwork including: Filing ISRC code, obtaining UPC code, submitting song to Sabam,…
  10. Uploading master, ISRC, UPC and arwork to an aggregator (in my case Tunecore) who distributes to all online stores
  11. Promotion (which includes creating a video, contacing radiostations, blogs and press, updating social media and website, creating more video content, etc…)

As I have my own music label I’m doing most of the work myself and the hardest part is to try and time all these different activities correctly and efficiently. E.g. one problem I ran into yesterday was I sent the wrong version of the mix to be mastered. I only noticed this after I had Pieter make two versions of the master. Luckily that was before I uploaded the track to Tunecore and made the final video… Phew.

And while all of this is going on, I need to finish the other tracks of the album!

Backings

Spent a lot of time this weekend recording vocals and backing vocals. Not only for the upcoming Willemsson album, but for the new Blue and Broke. (Watch for that one later in 2018)
Recording that album in Pro Tools by the way. That has been an experience. More on that later.

As for the new Willemsson album, I sing and record my own backing vocals. Why? I guess it makes it sound more ‘me’, more unique. It is quicker, cheaper, and I really enjoy it. It also suits this album better, as I have recorded all other instruments myself (except for a few guitars, a mandolin and some percussion). Only for the first single (scoop: ‘What If’ ) I recorded my sister Amalia singing a piece of custom-made Italian opera!

More on the single in the next post!

Impact

How to make an impact? And in particular how does a song make an impact?

I was mixing the single for the upcoming album and somewhere along the process the song had lost its impact. Luckily Pedro noticed the subtle change. And it really was subtle. I only added some reverb and some dirt and suddenly the track sounded smaller. Usually adding reverb does the opposite! Mixing and music production is so complex it’s insane.

But that’s what makes it so fascinating.

So my new directive when mixing is now: impact.

M.O.

A little bit on my modus operandi.
I like to be left alone, at least when I’m creating. Luckily my dear wife Joke understands that. Most of the time.

So ideally I would have a place somewhere remote, totally isolated, far away from other people, with no distractions. But as my worsening eyesight prevents me from driving, that just isn’t possible.
But I have the next closest thing, which is a complete floor in our house, where I’ve built a control room and an adjacent sound-proofed room. My kingdom.

So I’m there most of the day, creating, mixing, listening, reading, studying, recording, writing,…

I really enjoy the first part of the process (i.e. from nothing to something), recording the basic ideas and structure of the song. But then there comes a time when I have lots of demos. In a way it becomes a burden. I need to move on, unload, sift, delete some parts (or all of it),… And that part is really hard to do on your own.
That’s when my producer Pedro comes into play. I just share my stuff online, he listens with fresh ears and sends me feedback. Some examples: “Great intro and verse, but the chorus isn’t up to par”, “Love the guitar sound, but the bass sounds like…”, “The middle eight is too long”, etc.
And with the feedback he motivates, challenges, coaches and basically complements me.

Now I can move on, and the songs get a step closer to their finished stage.

But getting the songs released and promoted, and then playing them live, is something completely different. More on that later.

 

Pitch

Spending time correcting my vocals. It’s a tedious job, but it does make a difference. I’m not the most gifted singer when it comes to pitch, and that is putting it mildy (no false modesty here). So a pitch correcting tool like Pitch & warp (Cubase) comes in real handy.

The problem with tools like Autotune is that they can make you sound unnatural. So I am more of a fan of delving into the vocal track and correcting the (more than a) few bad notes manually.

 

Time

Time.

A great luxury.

That and space.

Room.

Room to experiment, time to try different things. Time to wander and wonder. Space to grow. A place to work. Time to dream.

Boundaries.

140, even 280 seems never enough.

But I love borders. I love crossing them. I also hold on to them, because there is nothing as scary as infinity.

So give me time and let me loose, but put me in a sandbox.

priviledged and sheltered

Oh yes, I realise that I am priviledged and grew up sheltered. That sometimes makes me feel guilty, but not as much as it used to though. (Now I realise feeling guilty does not equal being guilty.) It does however stop me from complaining too mcuh. I’ve never had to worry where my next meal was coming from. Never had to worry how I was going to pay for medical bills, etc.  It puts things in perspective.

But still I worry. I guess I am a worrier. Most of the times I can’t help it. Making music helps, it forces me to stay in the now, to be mindful.

2 types of people

I’ve read somewhere there are two types of people. When listening to new songs type A listens to the lyrics, while type B listens to the music. I’m a type B person. I’m not saying that I don’t find lyrics important, but it just isn’t what will get me excited about a song.

So when and only when I like the music I’ll try to find out what the song is about. And even then I find the sound of the words more important than their meaning.

But still… bad lyrics will ruin the song for me.

Been working all day on finalising the lyrics for the new album. After some feedback by Andreas, Pedro and Paul. Thanks guys, it helped a lot. I won’t always follow your advice, but still it is much appreciated!