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Not many people talk openly about the costs of self releasing your own single. Why did I decide to release music? I’ve been enjoying writing songs for a few years now – and it’s taken me a while to think of myself as the artist… I love so many different styles and this can be a blessing but also means you are not focused on one thing (do I want to be a cool electronic artist? Or a jazz singer?…Yes! But it turns out I’m probably most suited to folky/ singer songwriter stuff… even though I also love writing straight up pop and some stuff for Eurovision pitches… !). I started with a life coach in January and our first session revealed it was time to find my own voice.
On June 7th this year I had a launch party in Shoreditch, East London, to celebrate Circles, my debut single -which came out on June 8th.
- I had an A&R from a major publishing company at my launch party!! It feels like every artists dream is to ‘get signed’ whether that’s a record deal or publishing deal. For me, publishing will be the final and ultimate step in the process, but it is in no way the be all and end all. I’m super excited the A&R came, she was super sweet and spoke to me and wished me luck, and told me feeling nervous was normal and meant I cared, which was totally what I needed to hear! They now want to hear more material, which is exciting.
- I was BBC Leicester introducing ‘track of the week’ which was great – this happened about a month ahead of release – I’ll talk more about my PR campaign in a bit.
- I had a great band behind me, a room full of great people who were really supportive… and I didn’t forget any lyrics. I organised a flash mob choir, which was brilliant, emailing people their harmony parts to learn. Yey choir!
- On the day of release I made it to no. 20 of the iTunes UK singer songwriter charts. Behind a lot of George Ezra tracks but ahead of Ed Sheeran, so I was pretty pleased with that, but it would have been nice to get a little higher up. Despite a feeling of online support I only sold 109 copies of the track on itunes.
- I was finishing writing one of the middle 8’s to one of the songs literally at 10am on the morning of the launch party – that was pretty scary as I hate having to remember words.
- a few factors led to the CDs being delivered on the actual day of the launch – nothing like some last min stress to keep you alive.
- The original venue I had booked turned out to be way more expensive than I had realised (my fault in reading the contract, not theirs) but meant I had to find a new venue at the very last minute, literally 10 days before the launch date.
THE NITTY GRITTY OF THE COSTS
I have friends who are musicians so a lot of these costs are NOT standard rates but mates rates…
I originally set out to record 4 tracks. Having messed about, back and forth (my friend who was producing is in Devon and I’m in London, so everything was happening pretty much via email) I realised I only had 3 songs I really wanted to record. I paid them £400 to produce up 3 songs, that included guitar, bass, strings and some basic drum programming.
I paid a pianist £80 (what a bargain, thank-you Matt!!) to play on those 3 tracks. I paid a trumpet player £100 to write and record horn parts . Annoyingly I ended up ditching the track with the horns cos it’s not quite right, something in the production/ composition isn’t quite there… maybe it’s a dud track with some amazing lyrics (even if I do say so myself), but it hasn’t quite found itself… its back on the shelf.
I decided to spend the most money on recording my vocals – I am a singer and knew I did not want to compromise at all on this. I paid £500+ vat (so £600) to record 2 tracks, it was going to be 3 but ended up being just the two as we ditched the 3rd song. I’m really happy with my vocal recording and the production – its the right balance of produced and natural. People don’t know what real vocals sound like any more, we are so used to overly compressed and autotuned -that’s a separate blog right there – I wanted to sound real, but still like my *best version * of real… so yes there is a tiny bit of auto tune.
Finally the mastering for x2 tracks came in at £76
Total = £1156
Next I had to register the tracks with a distribution company – I decided to use Ditto – £168.00
I was already registered with the PRS but its around £100 – I’m also already a member of Musicians Union, and that’s £18 a month.
Total = £300
I was incredibly lucky that I had a skills swap for my photos – I spent a couple of hours with my friend and we agreed x3 images to be photoshopped up, and they became the 3 for my initial campaign. I then paid a further £40 to photoshop up a further 3 images (at this point I realised while black and white look great, press really want colour). Thank you Mel Brown.
My logo, CD artwork and website was all designed and built by a friend. I took them out for a Wagamamas meal and bought them a cook book to say thanks… ! (approx £50) I think I got the better deal, and am very grateful. They helped create a very clear brand for me, something I definitely needed help with.
There are still costs involved in hosting a website – they are around £15 a year and I have 2 for the Magenta needs. £30
TOTAL = £120
(this doesn’t include paying for an old logo I had which I then decided wasn’t reflective of the new brand… !)
I used to work in PR so this gave me a big head start. My friend who is now a music PR gave me this advice ‘no one cares about your story’. Like really, there are tonnes of musicians and talented people all doing the same thing as me. What’s going to help me stand out? I have a great work ethic so that’s a bonus. And I’ve sang on TV with Gary Barlow – so I drew on that connection and the press seemed to like it.
Results:- I got a piece in the East London Advertiser , Leicester Mercury , interview on BBC Radio Leicester . I was played on East Midlands BBC Introducing and BBC Leicester made my track BBC Introducing track of the week. Annoyingly the track wasn’t released at that point, so people couldn’t pre order it, and I struggled to move the date with Ditto through, so… my top tip would be ‘put an embargo on your press release’/ have everything in place better…
I also got lucky with a blog, thanks to Musicmusingsandsuch 🙂
Would I invest in a PR next time? Sure, if you have loads of cash, sadly I don’t! I’m hoping I can build a little bit of buzz and then pay for a PR further down the line. I paid £20 for a Facebook advert for the single.
TOTAL = £20
I really wanted to do a live event… it’s been quite a few years since I sang live, but I felt my music would be conveyed best if I could sing live. I’m quite chatty so also happy to talk between songs about the writing process etc.
Venue – £320
Photographer – £150
Band for 1 rehearsal plus the performance – £370 (a bargain for those people’s time, thank you band!)
Alcohol for VIPs and the band – approx £50
Drinks vouchers – a tiny cost but all adds up – £3
Cups and Straws – £35 (the venue was BYOB)
Ice – £3
TOTAL = £931
I took 1 singing lesson of 1.5 hours to help me with artistic choices in the songs. There is no template for being a singer songwriter. I love my teacher, so this was an extra hug and ‘you’re doing OK’ which you can’t put a price on – £75
Rehearsal room hire – £13 (again a bargain)
I sent flowers to A&R @ Warner, Universal and Sony – a few people said don’t bother but it was too late to cancel (cos I had the idea last minute,, then I couldn’t cancel the order!) – I have heard nothing so someone somewhere has some roses from me… ! – £100
Girly stuff – hair, nails, dress – £100
Physical CDs – think I sold 6 on the evening of the launch (!) – £142.50
Couriering CDs – £32.40
TOTAL = £463
I also have a PA part time for other areas of my business. She kindly helped me in lieu of skills swaps (thank you Jess!) with about 45 hours of work – relating to branding, creating FB banners, organising my mailing list and newsletters, etc. This was immensely helpful.
GRAND TOTAL: £2990
Would I do it again? Yes definitely!! It’s such a great process, BUT I do need to make it financially viable, so I’d have a ticketed event, so that the live part of the night covers costs.
Want to help or have questions? Please do get in touch!!
I’m also crowdfunding to enable me to keep going. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/magenta-s-ep-youtube-band#/