from diy 308 studios to your ears

Some of you may be interested in how indie artists get a CD or digital album into your hands these days. And with a Beyoncé cover song?!?! Is he even allowed to do that?

The truth is that in many ways, things have never been better for musicians, especially indie artists. Technology has allowed us to do much more for much less in the studio. But it has also opened up a lot of opportunities we used to need a record label for.

If you want to release your own cover songs, you can do that legally and easily with limelight, which is the service I licensed Sweet Dreams through. You pre-purchase mechanical royalties for the physical discs, digital downloads, and/or streams. I'm looking forward to doing some more of this. Covers are an incredibly fun break from my own songs.

For mastering, I went with The SoundLAB. They have a really efficient process. Just upload and wait. To be honest, I'll probably shop around a bit more with the next album now that I know a bit more about the way this works. For example, there are some folks out there who, as part of their process, give you suggestions of tweaks to your mixes as they begin to look at mastering them.

But what is mastering?!? It's the final polish on your mixes. Among other things, careful compression and EQ are added to the stereo tracks to make them louder and punchier. They also have better ears than me and can make sure these tunes don't only sound good on my speakers. Finally, it's another set of ears on a project. They say you should never do your own mastering for this reason alone.

For the physical CD, I went with CDBaby. The additional thing I needed to do here was think about the packaging. Here's the final template sent in for Familiar Places:

CD template

The trick with any print job like this is that you need to allow for bleed at the edges and not have any important stuff too close to an edge because cuts aren't always right on the line.

Finally, the digital distribution (iTunes, etc.). The annoying thing about most places like iTunes is that you can't just sign up with them directly. You have to go through an "aggregator". I decided to take a bit of a risk on this one and try a brand new service: DistroKid. I believe it just came out of beta in October, and it's a potential game changer for digital distribution. By automating a lot of the work, DistroKid is able to deliver fast and cheap, which is what any indie artist wants to hear. And it'll only get better. I love that the creator, Philip Kaplan, is a fellow musician who's main goal is to help other musicians. Anything this new is riskier than going with the established folks, but I think it's worth it. If you're looking to do quick digital distribution, especially with single songs, check it out.