How Do I Make Sure My Album Is a Success?
By: Jessica Hopper
[Editor's Note: Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.]
My band Swearwords have been playing together for a while now-- we've put out two well-received EPs and have filled some of the crucial rooms in Chicago. This year, we'll be releasing our first full-length and touring the Midwest and both coasts. Any advice for keeping the momentum going and priming the pump before the next push?
This is a great question to be considering a few months in advance of your album release. Too often bands only think about doing things after the record is out, overlooking crucial set up. It is worth getting a head start, rather than scrambling once the thing is out. For the most part, it sounds like you are on track--doing a lap around the country for good measure, working on getting decent local shows. That is some of the harder work involved.
Start working on promotion around town--even if your album isn't due out until September. While you don't want to preempt all the press you want to get around the album's release, now is a good time to get on people's radar. Start inviting writers that cover local music, DJs who have local music shows and Chicago-area bloggers out to shows and working on introducing them to your band's work. Drop them a few-sentence email and let them know where you are in the process of making the album. For some journalists/writers, that is a part of the process they like to cover. Maybe you get a news item out of you being in the studio.
Let them know when you are anticipating releasing the record--even if it is six months from now. Maybe someone will want to have you in to talk about the making of new album on their show/podcast before it is out, debut some tracks. The thing you are working on is getting a trickle of attention going and gaining useful contacts.