Part Two of Three Part Notes for Songwriting Success: How To Record & Release Music

Last week I talked about how to write a song. This week I’m talking about how to construct an album and EP, record your music, then release it. First off, let me remind you that with music, there are no rules. This week’s paper is merely what I suggest and how I construct my projects, record and release them. I won’t keep this introduction longer than it needs to be so I’ll get right to it. 

If you don’t know what an EP or an album is, allow me to explain. EP stands for Extended Play, and it’s essentially a mini album. An EP is supposed to be anywhere from three to six songs. Anything longer than that is usually considered an album. A lot of artists will release an EP in preparation for an album with one or two songs from an album on the EP. 

To be considered an album, a project has to have at least seven songs. Albums are usually very anticipated by an artist’s fans. It’s a big project, so there are lots of new songs on an album. A solid album is usually 12-16 songs. I personally prefer it when albums are around 14 or 15 songs and about 45-55 minutes, but it’s a creative decision that is up to the artist. 

So, how should you construct your EP? Well, typically an EP is in preparation for an upcoming album or big project, so the storyline of an EP is not as important as it is on an album (more on that in a minute). If you’re just releasing an EP for fun, the only thing I recommend worrying about is the pacing: the placement of the songs based on what kind of song they are. If you have more than one slower ballad, try to put those next to each other. You don’t want to be constantly switching between fast-paced songs and ballads. It’s going to tire out your listeners. It’s going to seem very messy, but if you’re releasing an EP for an upcoming album, you might want to put one or two songs from the album on the EP even if you’ve already released those songs as singles. Structuring an EP is fairly simple, but let’s move on to how to construct an album. 

With an album, I will always be trying to tell a story with the songs. There’s usually a theme of my album, and I’ll name the album something relating to that theme. For example, let’s say that the theme of your album is something along the lines of “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” or something like that. You could name your album “Silver Lining.” It’s a pretty easy concept to grasp. When you do this, people will understand what your album’s focus is before they even listen to a single song. When I’m putting together the tracklist for the album, I’ll always put it together like it’s a book. It’s a storyline that progresses. Each song is pushing the story forward. 

Now, when you have put together lyrics and chords and riffs etc. for your song(s), you need equipment to record your music. If you have a guitar part, for example, you can just put a microphone next to the guitar and play. You need an audio interface. An audio interface is a device that records music by plugging one side of the chord into the interface and the other side into the instrument. I recommend buying a Scarlett Solo Gen 2i2 or 3i3. Both work really well. For vocals and drums you’ll want to use a microphone for that; however, I recommend buying a MIDI keyboard and buying MainStage so you can hook the keyboard up to a computer to make your own drums. If you own a MacBook of some sort, you can use GarageBand. It’s a super simple program that works really well for recording music. 

As for releasing music, DistroKid is a phenomenal tool. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and you get 100 percent of the money from your streams. There are three plans that you can choose from. I recommend the second option where you can customize release dates etc. It’s a great site, and it releases your song(s) onto multiple streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, etc. You also get a verified checkmark automatically so that boosts your credibility.

I hope this helps you in your songwriting process. It can be overwhelming at first, but as you continue to record and release music, it will get easier. Remember, there are no rules. Do what you want. It’s part of the beauty of the music industry, and you have total creative freedom.

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