Recording a Music Licensing Album: My Process from Start to Finish
Today I'd like to show you how I go from a music album idea, to a fully finished product that is ready to pitch to libraries. Over the years I have significantly cut down the time it takes, which has made me more productive and lets me focus on the creativity. Here is my process!
Think of an album idea. I keep an ongoing list of ideas that I think are in my wheelhouse. Whenever I think of ideas, I add them to the list. Most albums I do on my own, while others I do with collaborators.
Create a template for the album. I open up my DAW and create tracks for each instrument that I anticipate using in the project, route them to FX channels, input typical corrective EQ's, etc. This saves a lot of time, check out my blog on recording with templates.
Record full length rough ideas for 10-15 tracks. This is the first creative part, and basically gives you a blueprint of the track. I usually end up redoing these tracks after I add in quantized drums and whatnot.
Record overdubs and additional instruments. This is the bulk of the recording, and can be a lot of fun. Since the blueprint is already written, it is easy to add in other elements and decorate the track. It is good practice to listen to the full track and see what it "needs" before calling it done.
Mix the tracks. Since we used templates, there should be a workable rough mix already. Start by getting good levels for each instrument, and add EQ and FX as needed. Most people do several rounds of mixing over the course of several hours or days (or more). Listening to the music with fresh ears always gives a new perspective. I also try to mix in order the first time, and in reverse order the next time to avoid ear fatigue by the end.
Master the tracks. I like to put all of the tracks in the same mastering session so I can compare volumes. They should be similar to each other as far as volume and overall sound. Also make it a practice to save templates for each mastered track.
Export the tracks and upload them to a website like Disco or Soundcloud. If using Soundcloud, make sure the audio still sounds good (their compression tends to weaken the quality of mastered tracks that are really loud).
Make a playlist of the full album which can be sent out to libraries.
Send a link of the music to music libraries! One email a week is pretty standard and gives the library a chance to respond before moving on to another library. Be sure to customize the emails and don't just send them spam.
When doing music like this for exclusive libraries, it is NOT required to create alternate edits before getting the music accepted by a library. This will most likely only waste your time, since different libraries have different requirements.
Be patient! It is likely that most libraries won't actually respond to your submission. Don't take it personally, they probably receive dozens or more submissions per week. Don't be hasty either and blast the same album to 20 libraries in one day. You will look unprofessional and potentially be blacklisted if a library wants the music and you can't give it to them.
When one album is done, start thinking about which one to do next. As musicians in this business, we should constantly be creating new music. Sticking with your strengths is a smart move, and music in your wheelhouse will be your most genuine. Get creative with your ideas too!
If you are an aspiring music licensing composer, learn all about this field and how to succeed in my new book: "Making Money with Music Licensing"
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