I just did an album release. If you’ve been a musician who released an album, you probably know there are a lot of steps involved. The more seriously you take your music as a career, the more steps there are and the more facets of the release itself to consider. For me, this has led to some serious “musician’s guilt”.
It starts with the eager anticipation of how great it’s going to be to release this new album, with the writing and recording of the material. Choosing a studio and raising the money to pay for the recording can be tedious, for sure, but there’s the whole creation aspect.
Long after the fuzzy glow of studio magic is gone, there are many things to consider. Are you releasing this album independently or on a label? Where are you going to get it made, and how much is that going to cost? Will you be pressing vinyl? What about artwork? Track order? What should we call the damn thing? These are little decisions every veteran and amateur musician has faced.
For me, this was only the beginning of decision-making and stressing out to be done. I’m on my third (technically fourth) release, newly partnered with a label and looking to survive (and eventually thrive) on my craft. Every aspect of the release had to be carefully considered. For us, that meant hiring a PR person to announce the label signing both in the US and Canada. It meant countless hours of social media hype, deciding when, where and with whom to do our CD release party. Follow up touring; how much and where? Radio tracking, licensing, coordinating the vinyl and the artwork across three mediums of release (tape, vinyl and CD), web stores, iTunes releases, and so on and so forth.
There are an endless amount of things you can do to take your album as far as it can go. For me, this induced such a state of guilt over anything I had NOT done that I was nearly convinced the release would be a disaster. It took up so much of my time that there was little time for actually playing music, which leads to a whole other kind of guilt.
I suspect that this kind of worry is more common to indie musicians than we realize. In a world where music is almost a side hustle to your cult of YouTube personality, and where pieces of plastic are almost obsolete, we all struggle together to find ways to keep live music relevant and to find ways to profit from our art. I recently read an article detailing the prevalence of mental illness among touring musicians; we talk about music biz stuff with one another, we brag, we talk shop, but we don’t always talk about the common frustrations that we all experience. Musician support group, anyone?
PS: the album release went great. I guess I just have to relax a little and realize it’s normal.