There may not be a way to know when is the perfect time to release your next song. But there is a way to make sure that your next song is ready to be released. All too often, we buy into the hype of recording a song because it sounds catchy in our head. Only to realize that it may not have been our best work once we start laying down the tracks. Here are a few quick ideas to keep in mind before you dedicate your time and money to recording your next song.
1. Record a Scratch Track
A song is only as strong as its skeleton. So lay down a scratch track (just voice + guitar, for example) using a simple recording device. When you listen back, put yourself in the shoes of a first-time listener and see what sticks out or is unclear. Then finesse those parts until you’re happy!
2. Sleep On It
Your brain fixes your ideas while you sleep. It will also give birth to new ideas, if you give it something to “brainstorm” before you go to bed. A good night’s sleep will often clear up any questions about your song. If you only have 1 night to make a decision, that’s ok. But if you have a week or a month, that’s even better.
3. Play Your Track for Other Songwriters
Send your scrath track to a personal group of songwriters (or submit it to a forum of amazing songwriters). Be open to feedback, as long as it is laid out constructively and gives you somewhere to improve. But take everything with a grain of salt. While receiving notes, don’t break it if it doesn’t need help. If you feel guilty at any time for sharing your song, you might know deep down that it’s not ready to share.
4. Play Your Track for Non-Songwriting Friends
Share your song with your “regular” friends (i.e. consumers). They will offer insights that a songwriter can’t. Feel free to ask them simple questions like “Did you get the story” or “How was the length?” Again, if you feel guilty at any time for sharing it, you might know deep down that it’s not ready to share with your audience.
5. Poll Your Audience with a Mini-Concert
Set up a Periscope mini-concert to your fans and get their opinions. This will give you a “live” performance that offers real-time feedback. At the end of the song, thank everyone and offer them a special subscription option to get a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process. They will love seeing it unfold and will want to buy your new single because they’ll feel they were a part of it.
If you get through these five steps and still feel super confident that your song is the best thing since sliced bread, fast track it into production. If, at any time, you are uncertain or don’t feel like it’s ready, then take a pause. You will better serve your audience and the longevity of your career by waiting until the song is ready to share. A fast and mediocre product will not gain you the attention you loyalty that you deserve. Shelve that song for now, pick up work on a few others, and then revisit later when your ears have had time to rest.