[Editor’s Note:This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. It’s another piece in our on-going Life During Quarantine series.]
These are very difficult times for many people, including artists, who seem to have been hit especially hard. Musicians temporarily can’t go into recording studios, may have had to scrap plans for complete promotional campaigns, and perhaps worst of all, cannot head out for a tour.
Everybody may be at home waiting for the world to get back to normal, but that doesn’t mean this time needs to be wasted. In fact, all artists can try their best to make the most out of this situation – after all, you can still create art and release new tunes while in self-isolation.
Here are five ideas you can borrow regarding releasing new music during this pandemic.
Release Another Project
Most artists spend incredible amounts of time perfecting everything for their next full length album, and then once it’s out in the world…they begin working on their next one.
That’s simply part of the game when it comes to being a recording musician, and it should be an enjoyable process (though very trying and even emotional at times, for sure), but what about collections that aren’t exactly albums?
There are many different items you can record and release as an artist, especially if you find yourself with some newfound time on your hands, but perhaps not enough to complete a new album. You can create something completely from scratch, like an EP, which can serve as a bridge between full-lengths. This may be worthy of press attention and perhaps even the ‘single treatment’, depending on the songs on it.
You may want to consider working on a mixtape of sorts, even if you’re not a hip hop artist. You can blend genres, or simply make your peace with sharing tunes that haven’t been mixed and mastered to the same extent that most albums are.
Perhaps you already have an album that is still being purchased and streamed by fans and it’s time to tack on some new tunes and re-release it as a deluxe edition? This breathes new life into an older title and all it takes are a few previously-unreleased songs, which you may already have lying around!
Some artists get their start by posting covers of the songs they love online, while others have never ventured down that road. Whether you have tried your hand at putting your own spin on tracks originally penned by other musicians or not, this time of self-isolation may be perfect for reimagining hits and opening up. As you upload your take on a well-known tune, share some intimate details about why it matters to you and why you decided to cover it.
You can do this in a video, via audio recording, or perhaps even support it by writing a blog article or social post. Instead of just sharing a clip of you singing and leaving it at that, why not turn your at-home covers into a complete moment?
Every musician who has released an album has demos sitting around somewhere, but most artists don’t monetize them in any way.
You can use this time of quarantine to share the first recordings of songs your fans may love that you never let them listen to. If you want to take things a step further, you can create entire packages around songs or albums, uploading every version of your song and showing how it progressed from you humming a voice note into your phone to a fully finished single.
You can put these on your website, via YouTube, or, if you want to make even just a few cents from those older recordings that aren’t doing anything for you, why not package them as an album (of sorts) and distribute them to Spotify, Apple Music and the like?
Just because you can’t go out and see your friends and meet fellow musicians right now, that doesn’t mean collaborations need to stop happening!
Reach out to those you already know and artists you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting and see if they’d like to work on something while at home. You can write or record your part and send it over to them and then they can do the same.
This is nothing new to many superstars, who work this way with a plethora of big names, and if someone has the right equipment to make sure the recordings sound great and there’s a mixer or engineer who can perfect it all, why can’t a great single come out of all of this?
Try Something Totally New
As everybody holes up in their homes and apartments for the foreseeable future, this is the time to try something completely new.
For some, that may mean shaving their heads (which seems to be the go-to for many who are in need of a haircut), others are trying out new hair colors, but as a musician, you can jump on this trend and switch things up sonically just because!
Pick up an acoustic guitar, buy a beat online, try your hand at remixing your own cuts, or work with producers or musicians virtually to craft a completely new sound and write something special. You may decide you don’t love what you’ve come up with and the world will never hear it…or you can just let it all go and see what people think.
Preface your release with the note that you’re playing around and experimenting while you have some extra time on your hands and your fan base will surely be interested in hearing what you’ve concocted.
You never know when going out of your comfort zone will result in pure genius.
Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.