[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre.]
When making an album in a studio, most artists record all the instruments, combine them, and then add the vocals on top of that. This is how almost all professionally recorded music is tracked these days, and it provides an excellent opportunity that so many musicians fail to take advantage of.
You can take a lot away from a studio session, including a final piece of music, as well as both vocal and instrumental tracks, and while many people simply keep those in a folder on their computer or on a CD they’ll eventually lose, there’s a lot that can be done with just the music, or perhaps just the vocals.
Here are five reasons why you should release the instrumentals to your songs, which might be a quick and easy moneymaker you’ve never considered.
When you make the pieces of your songs available to anyone who wants them, you open up endless possibilities when it comes to remixes. Talented producers can do a lot with the regular song, but if you offer the music and your vocals, there is so much more that can be done, and it doesn’t require anyone to reach out looking for those files, which they may not bother doing.
When someone crafts a remix of your song, it can benefit you immensely. If they upload it to the internet and people begin streaming it, you will earn royalties as a songwriter, and while they may not amount to much in the end, it probably doesn’t cost you anything to bring those cents in.
Also, in rare cases, a remix can take a song few have heard and turn it into a true hit. There are plenty of examples of a stellar reworking becoming the prominent version of a beloved tune, such as with Lana Del Rey (“Summertime Sadness” hit No. 6 on the Hot 100 because of a Cedric Gervais remix), Mike Posner (“I Took a Pill in Ibiza” went to No. 3 and earned him a Grammy nomination thanks to Seeb rework) and OMI (his only hit, the No. 1 smash “Cheerleader,” was a remix by Felix Jaehn).
Remixes also introduce your name and your work as an artist to an audience that might otherwise completely miss you, and that is always a good thing for an up-and-coming independent artist.
If people want to cover one of your songs, they are more than welcome to pick up an acoustic guitar or sit down at a piano and figure it out, but that takes a lot of time, and not everyone is so musically inclined. If you give them the music that backs your track, those who are only singers can focus their attention on putting their own spin on one of your tunes. The opposite can be true as well, as there may be those who want to use your voice, but change the composition.
Again, this only benefits you, as you get paid as a songwriter for any and all streams (as long as things are done correctly, that is). If nobody hears the cover, there’s no harm done, but if it becomes even a little bit popular, who knows how many people will hear your words and your music for the first time?
3. It’s Another Release!
In today’s music economy, fans are always looking for that next release. Just weeks after you give them an album, they will be wondering when a new single, video, or maybe an entire new EP or album may arrive. Nobody can keep up with the voracious appetite the public has developed over the past several years, but you can give them a little something in the form of an instrumental release.
Several weeks or months after your album drops, feel free to upload your instrumentals to your website and to streaming platforms. You don’t need to make a huge deal about it as if it was another proper album, but let everyone know, in case they’re interested. These tunes might not make much of an impact, but the effort shows you are continuously putting out content, and that’s always a good thing.
4. Offering Your Songs In Another Light
Sometimes when songs are released with music and vocals combined into one, the final product is better, but the details may be overlooked. Allowing your fans to hear these two components separately will give them a chance to hear every note, every word, and to truly take in the mastery of your work.
You spend a lot of time making this art great, now let them understand just how fantastic it really is!
5. Sync Licensing
Every musician who wants to make a living from their art should always be on the lookout for great sync opportunities, which can require very little from the artist but which can also bring in a much-needed paycheck. When you only give the team handling your syncs your complete tunes, they can only shop those around in the hopes that the people adding music to TV and film need something with vocals…but if you provide them with the vocals, the music, and the final product, they have more to work with. You never know when a director or music supervisor will love your piano composition, but not your words.
TuneCore Music Publishing Administration has a team that handles sync licensing and that can answer questions and potentially even get you that deal that will make all the difference. If you’re curious (and you need to be), check out more here.