Before the New Year kicks in, I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for all the support and encouragement I have received from you during 2017 and tell you how the year went for Featherhead Media and the Change My Mind album. THANK YOU!
Well, how did things go? The thing is that so much has happened in 2017 that it's amazing to me. In fact, when I look back and compare my progress at the same time last year, I am blown away with what I've learned. I am so thankful for all the help I've gotten from friends, family, and professionals along the way. You and they have made this possible. Most of all I am grateful to my husband of thirty one years, Johan, who lets me do this.
Many people have started to ask me (some impatiently) why the album isn't done yet, so many, in fact, that I started a diary/blog on Wattpad about it. I figured that I can't post a new email here every single day but I can post a diary at another location (Wattpad.com) so that you can check it out if you want to. I believe in transparency.
The diary gives you the day to day details about how the music making process works and how I go forward by learning, testing and networking. I hope you will find "A Crazy Old Dream" interesting. If you click on the picture of the book, below, you can read the whole book there. I am going to continue blogging in it in January.
Below is an excerpt from the book, A Crazy Old Dream D.I.Y Musician's Diary
I do an assessment every year, at the end of each year, in order to reflect over what went right and project into the coming year so I can get better at making music for the masses. Really I am not making music for the mainstream masses. All I want to do is change one mind at a time for the better through my music and books.
As 2017 comes to a close, I have to say that I am amazed at what was accomplished this year and, also, a bit frustrated about the fact that the album still isn't done (although I understand why). I have learned tons if stuff this year but I could have done better, could have worked harder and could have prioritised more effectively...but isn't that true for all of us? Most of what I learn well is based on the mistakes I make (trial and error).
There is no sense in crying over spilled milk. I choose to take what worked well last year and increase that next year as well as add piano (finally!) That way I can minimise what didn't work.
Pareto's rule. There's an unwritten rule that 20% of the work creates 80% of the outcome and I see that popping up as I analyse 2017. (The video above shows how the rule affects music making - from Graham Cochrane).
Here's the link https://youtu.be/oEFMs4DsauY
My 20% that gave me 80% of my positive results was the time I spent learning by watching professionals do mixing, taking notes and then applying it to my tracks. I have grown tremendously in that area and that is what is going to enable me to release songs faster in the future.
I think we all have an inherent fear of making mistakes and of not being accepted. This plays a role in me not releasing the music because I hold it back in order to tweak it indefinitely out of fear that it is not good enough. At some point or another, I am going to have to release it without it being perfect. I haven't met a musician yet that is satisfied with their first album to 100%. You are always learning as a musician, always growing and that makes you look back at the first stuff you've recorded and shake your head in dismay.
I guess I am starting to see that I need to think like this
1. Set time limits
2. Make a plan before I start mixing
3. Stick to the plan
4. Hold the time limit
6. Never look back.
7. Do the next song
Setting realistic time limits when you don't know what you are doing or how long it will take is really difficult. That has been the situation all of last year as I was learning to mix and master. Planning how much time to allot for, for example, how much time editing can take is getting clearer now. That helps me plan the release.
Many things have to be in place before the launch and I am working simultaneously with those things.
The positives in 2017
Mixing/mastering I've gotten much better at mixing and am starting to be good at understanding mastering while listening to proffs and going the prosoundformula.com course in mastering.
A year ago, I was just starting to go through my newly purchased ProSoundformula.com courses and taking notes on mixing. I went through all the free courses and did all the mixing, EQ and Compression courses and now I'm doing it. Yay! I know what compression, EQ and many other plugins are and do now and I am getting better all the time as I proceed!
Editing: During 2017 I became good at comping, editing, quantisation, Logic Pro X, and am much faster in general. There is no comparison to how it was a year ago. Hard work and studying pay off.
Songwriting I have written some great new songs and am in the process of copywriting all my songs, both new and old with STIM and CCLI.
I went to two conferences - one in Nashville and one in Huskvarna, Sweden where I saw and heard great songwriters and performers in action. This has helped me develop my songwriting process and I am already seeing the quality of my songs increase.
I have watched videos about songwriting and this has challenged me to go deeper and linger on songs like a hen with her eggs - giving them time and checking for alternative wording and chords as well as allowing time for the arrangements to develop during my daily practice. During 2017 I learned methods and structure for writing songs that engage listeners and create a buzz. 2018 is gonna be awesome.
Music Theory - I have freshened up what I already know and am beginning to use the program MuseScore so I can write down my music and add it to CCLIs website.
Branding I have developed the Featherhead Media brand on the website and on social media.
Writing: I found out about Wattpad and my writing took a great leap. You can't see them yet but there are many sketches in the pipeline - maybe 20 books or so. I have already published two lyrics book just to test the water and published parts of this book and the book My Imaginary Friend. I am learning from my oldest sister/mentor, Wendy, who has now published and sold a few great books, the best of which I get as a Christmas gift. Confessions of a Safety Engineer here's the link:
I have learned about Goodreads, SmashWords, Scribed, Draft2 Digital and more. My head is spinning.
Planning: Learned to plan my time in blocks.
Goals for 2018:
1. Release and promote the Change My Mind album asap (i.e mix and master the songs I am responsible for and get them up to the level of Sonic Medias so we can combine the songs he has mastered with mine seamlessly on the album.)
This is going to require a lot of work in the studio here before I can book a visit for a couple of days in Gothenburg where we put it all together, create backtracks and clean up the whole thing. I'll need to pay for the session time in Gothenburg. He can't do it for free. I'll also have to pay for a distribution company and buy some radio time.
The songs need to be updated on the Featherheadmedia's homepage and made available for download there as well as being distributed on streaming platforms.
2. Write the book. I have already started writing in many of the chapters but I feel that I need to set aside about two weeks to get it done after the album is done. When the album is being registered with CDBaby, I'll write the book, Change My Mind as a Word doc and then send it for feedback, proofreading and criticism.
3. Get the book published - looking into various methods and companies.
4. Start making and releasing some new music as singles
5. Learn music theory, chord analysis and basic piano: circle of fifths, rhythm, etc.
Now, here's something that can help you make 2018 your best making music year ever.
Just read a great email from Shaun Letang at Music Industry How To and I thought it was so good so I want to share it's main points with you. Here are his tips on how to make indie music work in the coming year.
How to make 2018 your music year in 14 steps (condensed from an article fromShaun Letang):
1. Map out your main goals for 2018. Be sure they're S.M.A.R.T goals, as in Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed. ...
2. Focus on quality over quantity. Don't try and record 40 songs in the coming year; make 12-16 which will sound good alongside the top songs in your genre. Spend the rest of the time marketing these songs.
3. Make sure you have a website.
4. Make sure your website is super attractive and easy to navigate. Don't forget key words, tags, seekability etc...
5. Add logos of places you've appeared on your website. This will help provide instant credibility and have people give your music more of a chance.
6. Start collaborating (and networking) with other companies, musicians, songwriters and industry professionals. This is super important!
7. Collaborate more with other musicians. Agree to promote the songs to each of your fans, so you both essentially end up with bigger fan-bases.
8. Merch Increase the range of merch you offer at gigs. ...These will make your shows more sustainable in the long run. What is a great concert w/o a great t-shirt?
9. Make your music easy to purchase. On your website, publish it on Spotify, Amazon etc. Make CDs if you are going to do gigs. Yes, people still buy them and vinyl as well if you are doing well.
10. Get signed up to a royalty collection agency. If you are writing your own music this is a must. In the U.S. it is ASCAP for example in Sweden it is STIM. You have to be registered with a royalty collection agency in order to self publish music on, for example CDBaby. CDBaby pays out to STIM and STIM, in turn pays out to its members. CDBaby never pays directly to you.
11. Focus on less forms of social media. Keep the ones that work well for you and work them well.
12. Make marketing a priority if you already have great songs!
13. Build up a 'buyers list.' So every time someone buys music or merch from you, be sure to get their email address. Keep them informed and respond quickly to their questions/posts.
14. Have fun! Don't lose the passion for what you do!
(These 14 steps were condensed from Shaun Letang's, Music Industry How To email. Thanks, Shaun!)
I hope that you are starting to understand that this music business is complicated - not sexy. You don't make anything on it and everyone wants you to publish things yesterday. Still, it's the passion that keeps me going.
Next year you can see the continuation of my journey to an album release and read about it on the Wattpad diary. I'll continue the blog/diary next year in January. Let me know what you think!
Well, thats all for this year."
The above was today's and the final diary post on Wattpad.
Wishing you a very
Happy New Year!
- Elisabeth Kitzing