Learn how to look back, assess your process, and acknowledge your progress.
The act of creation is a process. It involves digging deep and busting your ass. It’ll inspire emotions that volley between extreme self-doubt, pure joy, and every feeling in between. Sometimes this process can take forever. It’s often tough to know when your music—be it a song, EP, or album—is finished. And then when you deem your project complete, you have to apply yourself to a new kind of hustle. After prepping for your release, and engaging with your fans and promoting your work through a multitude of channels and strategies, you’re probably pretty wiped. Give yourself a moment. Don’t get overwhelmed. And then take a breath: this is a good time to reflect.
Below, we break it down so you can ask yourself the key questions to gauge what worked well, what could have gone better, and what you’ll do differently next time. Just like your art, you can evolve and tweak things the next time round, because this is also all part of the process.
1. Did all your potential fans get to hear your music?
Each release brings with it new lessons and opportunities to improve and expand your reach. Take time to think about your release schedule. Whether you dropped a new track every day or released the entire album on a Friday, consider how well the approach you chose worked to meet your goals. Did you apply the data available to you to inform your decisions? To see how others have approached their releases, take a peek at this.
2. How was your visual identity presented?
Making the world aware of your brand is a must for any artist and defining your aesthetic is a good place to start. This encompasses everything from album art to press photos to stage setup and outfits. If you’re not sure how to go about this, there are people who do branding for a living who can help. Whether you've enlisted professionals or gone the DIY route, it’s all about finding a way—beyond your music—to help your audience and the industry understand who you are and where you're coming from.
3. Did your sound match your audience strategy?
With every new release comes the opportunity to deepen your relationship with your existing audience and expand to new fans. Consider how your sound aided in that goal. What was your path? Did you stick to your vision? Experiment with changes? See what advice composer Kelly Moran has for creating your definitive sound.
4. Have you incorporated all your talents into your process?
Do you draw, paint, or sculpt? Write poetry? Make films? Dance? Whatever other talents you have, there are ways you can integrate them into different aspects of your release. Check out this interview with Cate Le Bon, who did just that with an unlikely extracurricular ability. hen you feel like you’ve exhausted your own resources, make the most of your creative network by tapping friends to help with details like the packaging and promotion of your new album.
5. Are you treating your music like a business?
Once you release your music, like it or not, you're now in the music business. Building a strong foundation as a business is the first step; it starts with having a financial plan, getting the right insurance, and potentially incorporating yourself. Take a look at this video to see how you did and what to know.
6. Are you making time for yourself?
It can be a challenge to always bring the best version of yourself to the table. Everything from social media burnout to the tolls of touring can drain your brain, body, and spirit, sapping your creative powers in the process. Are you practicing your form of self-care? Be it meditation, regular exercise, or cooking and eating good food, it’s crucial you look out for your biggest asset—yourself. Consult this video and this article for pro tips on the topics of mental health and wellness.
7. Did you have a team in place?
Managers, publicists, booking agents, lawyers, producers and collaborators -- these are just some of the positions that exist to support you in your music career. Depending on your goals for your release, you may or may not have needed one or more of those folks on your team. Think through how things went and who you might want to approach for your next release.
8. Put it all together.
Once you’ve asked yourself the questions above, take a close look at your answers. Compare your results against your expectations and set new goals for yourself with the lessons you’ve learned. Double down on what’s working and revamp anything that isn’t. And don’t be afraid to think big—the only limits are the ones you set for yourself.