Project management probably doesn’t sound like the most creative musical topic on the surface, however is something that can be very useful if you’re overseeing or coordination your own music production. The following points outline some general considerations and workflows to consider when implementing project management into your productions to help maximise your efficient and output.
A basic demo is a great place to start. A demo does not need to be something recorded professionally in a studio, it doesn’t even necessarily have to be a multi-track recording. It could be something as simple as a rough take that you recorded with your guitar and your iPhone. The most important aspect of a demo is to solidify the song structure and intent so that you have a strong foundation to build the production upon. I would also recommend considering deciding on the BPM of the track at this stage.
Once you have your demo in place and you’re ready to get started, I then recommend building your expected timeline. In this instance, I recommend ‘starting at the end’. That means, consider what your end goal is and work your way back from there. You can then decide on how much time is required for each stage of the project and avoid any unexpected surprises (well, you can at least be better prepared for surprises and I recommend making allowances in your timeline for revisions and issues to pop up). The timeline should include how much time you expect each stage of the recording to take and build the structure around the expected order of events. For example, you know that you will likely require mixing and mastering to be the final stages so you can work back from there.
Budget is a critical aspect to consider, because this will arguably be the biggest factor in deciding on the extent of your production. The great thing about modern remote recording options is that there is something to suit every budget out there. I recommend deciding on which aspect of your production is the area you will need the most help with and allocate your budget according to your needs. For example, if you are a guitarist/vocalist, it makes sense to save money in this area as you can often take care of this part yourself (providing you have access to either a studio or some recording equipment of your own).
DECIDE ON YOUR ROLE
Following on from budget, it’s important to decide on what your active role will be throughout the course of the project. This will largely be determined by your skillset and where you see your strong points to be. You may not necessarily have any intention on contributing to the recording yourself and completely outsource the entire production. Ultimately, there are no fixed rules in this department, however it sets the precedent for building your target list for contributors that you plan to engage for the project.
I’m a firm believer that genre and resources determines the extent of contributors you may require for a complete song production. Using the sample of a traditional rock back setup, it’s likely you will need drums, bass, guitar and vocals. You need to decide on which type of professional you intend to bring into the project to take care of these individual parts. For example, do you want acoustic drums or do you need someone that specializes in drum programming? I highly recommend researching the options available and decide on the best fit for you in each category.
Poor planning and communication will lead to a lack of clarity amongst contributors and/or session musicians. This can be a costly oversight and can easily be avoided by ensuring clear instructions are given to each person involved, so that they know what is expected of them and are certain they can deliver what you are looking for. Some people look to obtain free samples from potential suitors prior to hiring them for a project. This has potential consequences on many levels and is best described by the following analogy; If you planned to go out to a restaurant for dinner, you wouldn’t necessarily ring the chef prior and request they give you samples of their food before you make a booking. You would have completed the usual research and made a booking based on either the excellent reviews, marketing or recommendations of friends. I believe the same approach should be considered when hiring a music professional. It lays an excellent foundation of trust when you place your trust in the professional from the start and hire them for the expertise you are confident they can deliver.
DISTRIBUTION & MARKETING
So you’ve done all the hard work, now it’s time to build a plan for the distribution, release and marketing (by the way, this should be factored into your initial timeline also). If you happen to be in a band or intend to play live, booking a release gig is a great way to build a buzz and create hype around a pending release. It’s also important to consider your social media presence and decide on which areas you intend to focus on for promotion. I recommend researching digital distributors and decide on how you plan to release your material and which platform will become your main source of promotion.
Ultimately, there are no fixed rules when project management a music release. I hope that this overview has provided you with a basic framework that you can build upon and maximise your creative output. I have also prepared a project management spreadsheet you can download for free below.
Until next time,