This year, I achieved what I consider to be one of my greatest accomplishments so far: released a real album. It’s significant for several reasons. Most people probably recognize the value in being able to successfully put my art out there from an artistic standpoint, and there is value in that, but what I’m REALLY proud of is the stuff that nobody else really knows about….
Making an album is a HUGE organizational ordeal. I’ve made 3 underground mixtapes prior to this so I was already familiar with the process of finding and/or making music, writing to it, deciding an official name for the project and the tracklist order, but I was introduced to a whole other set of project management duties during the course of this process.
With my previous projects, I mostly relied on myself: I found or made the music, I wrote to it with no to little features, I recorded it in my home studio, I [novicely] engineered it, I made the cover art, and I distributed it on an independent site (ie Bandcamp).
But I knew I wanted this one to be better so I enlisted the help of other people and resources. And when you involve other people, the entire process changes.
One of the biggest lessons I learned was: whatever timeline you’re working with, and however much time you think you need for something, when other people are involved, double or triple it (no, seriously). I kind of stuck at this and it ended up costing me more down the line.
The truth is, no one cares about your project the way you do AND if you’re working with professionals, they have other clients so you’re most likely going to have to wait longer than expected or in my case, pay to have your project needs expedited.
which brings me to…
The good thing about making an indie album is the budget is solely based on your own capabilities and/or the agreements you’ve made with the people you’re working with. But in general, there is no way to get around the money it takes to make a good, high quality album.
This is an abbreviated list of all the expenses I incurred:
1. Photoshoot & video promo
3. Studio time - recording
4. Mixing and mastering
5. Graphic Design
6. Professional Distribution to digital retailers
7. Social Media Ads & PR
8. Physical copies & small run of merch
9. Release party [venue, promo, staff, etc…]
So as you can see, it can easily add up. And it did lol. I won’t mention exact numbers, but let’s just say I haven’t broken even yet lol.
This was perhaps the most surprising and rewarding factor for me. The album is only 6 songs and still took soooooo much time to create (like seriously, countless hours).
I got the idea for the album in summer of 2017 and that’s when I began writing for it. I didn’t finish writing until November 2017 (cue life and other responsibilities). I had the first recording session shortly after Thanksgiving and I originally intended to record everything within 2 days (to save money). Looking back, that was an absolute joke lol.
Check out behind the scenes footage of my recording process below:
Not only did recording take longer than expected, the engineering took SIGNIFICANTLY longer than expected. I didn’t get my final masters until March 2018…in the same week that I started announcing pre-order sales.
Soooo yeah lol. But the thing that made it personally rewarding for me was that I. WORKED. MY. BUTT. OFF for this project in ways that I didn’t even know I could. In addition to hiring people to do certain things, there were still a lot of things I had to do myself - lead single cover art, video promo editing, reaching out to press, planning the release party, reviewing literally everything to make sure it was right…
And all of that took extra time.
I was exhausted for months. But I couldn’t stop. I wanted to deliver a top quality project and my work ethic soared. I honestly didn’t know I had it in me or even cared that much. But I did. And I do. And I’m very proud of the quality of the work I put out. #NewLevels
Of course, the absolute most rewarding part of the entire process is hearing back from new and old supporters about how the music has impacted them.
I knew it would be a powerful project, but I didn’t expect to hear from strangers nearly everyday about how they relate to it and appreciate it. Like, WOW.
Oddly enough, at the time of this writing, the project hasn’t received the most press coverage, but the people have undoubtedly shown love and support.
This is just a tiny portion of the feedback that I have received. I’m so so so thankful and I sincerely hope this project continues to change lives in the way that I intended for it to.
[INSERT AN INFINITE AMOUNT OF GRATITUDE]
Overall, this was one huge-mega-super-ultra learning experience. I learned to plan way way way ahead of time for things. I learned that I am fiercely unwavering when I have my mind set on something. I learned that only albums with over 11 tracks can have pre-order singles on iTunes lol. And so much more.
This is still only the beginning. I can’t wait to see what’s up ahead. +*<3
- Ms. Melody Monroe