[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre.]
From start to finish, writing and completing a full song is a tiring, intense, and sometimes expensive process. It can take weeks and hundreds of dollars, and there’s no guaranteeing anybody will ever listen to it. That is sadly just how art works, but there are plenty of ways to squeeze more out of a composition once it’s done with fairly minimal effort. Sometimes these new projects may not wield much benefit, but every little bit helps, and you never know when the next take will be the one that catches the ears of millions.
Here are some ideas that may help you turn your one song into seven additional releases.
Releasing live versions of songs is common practice, and musicians have been doing it for decades, but it can still be difficult for many acts to accomplish due to costs. Unlike recording a song in your bedroom or even in a proper studio, taping something live — with an audience, background noise and everything — is a very different experience that requires different technology.
The process is becoming easier as time goes on, but it still isn’t at a place where everyone can choose this option. If it is possible to capture recordings of your from your next live gig, don’t miss out on what can be a fantastic advertisement for an upcoming tour.
Many artists get their start recording covers of songs made famous by other musicians and sharing them on sites like YouTube, but very few ever think to put in any work to get other musicians to cover their original work. It may be slightly unorthodox, but it’s certainly not unheard of for someone to reach out to fellow creators they know or like and ask them to put their own spin on certain tunes.
When they do, those acts get to deliver something new to their fans, and the original artist benefits as their name is spread to a new base and they earn publishing royalties as well.
Remixes are nothing new either. There are countless examples of songs going completely unnoticed until they are remade into pop and dance tracks by talented producers, keeping only the vocals intact (and even that may not be entirely true all the time).
Reaching out to an electronic or hip hop producer and asking them to rework whatever tune you’re planning on promoting, (or perhaps you’re going to do a complete album’s worth of tracks) means you can share it with a new audience, and since it will likely sound nothing like the original, it’s like landing a brand new cut without all the work.
Having said that, sometimes another musician may make something you don’t like, or perhaps the updated take won’t be enjoyed by many. There are always risks when it comes to creating art, and sadly they can’t all be waved away.
Of all the items on this list, acoustic recordings may be the most common option when it comes to making something new out of a previously-released piece of music. There’s a reason it’s the most popular: it’s the easiest.
Re-recording a song acoustically only requires the right instruments and the most basic equipment, and it can be done at almost any time, almost anywhere. A band can choose to track the stripped-down take of their new single months after it was first shared, or they can record everything acoustically at the same time they cut the original and roll them out over time.
Acoustic versions are usually thought to be a bit more emotional, raw, and they can help listeners really hear the meaning of the lyrics better in some cases.
5. Acoustic Live
Acoustic releases are common, but acoustic live ones aren’t nearly as popular, and that’s a shame. As stated above, recording something live can be technically difficult and prohibitively expensive for many acts, but if you’re able to bypass those issues, taping many things live is a great idea.
Acoustic shows are special events for the biggest fans, and they usually take place at smaller, more intimate venues. That means that a taping of a song being played on nothing but an acoustic guitar or piano, instead of with a full band and complete production value, can make the same composition sound completely different.
The vast majority of songs are crafted by recording all the pieces separately, and yet it’s pretty rare to see any musician or group take full advantage of that fact. If a band records the music at one time and the vocals at another, those files can be shared as they are and simply labeled as instrumental takes. One song can produce a vocal track, a full instrumental will all instruments, and perhaps even one done acoustically.
Releasing instrumentals on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music is perfectly fine, but they are much more useful on sites where they can be downloaded for free or very cheap and then reused for remixes or even for other acts to do something completely different with them…crediting the original act as they do.
(Editor’s Note: Instrumental tracks are also great to have when thinking about yours songs’ sync license potential!)
Demo recordings are sure to mostly interest super fans, but just because they may not reach a mass audience, that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. In fact, since they will be interesting to those who support a certain name the most, they should absolutely be treated as a real asset.
Demos can be released one-by-one, or perhaps as an entire collection. They are especially celebrated years after a song or an album has maintained popularity, as listeners get to hear what their favorites sounded like from the very start.
Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.Tags: