You do NOT need a label to release your own music

I’ve been a working musician for almost 10 years now and in that time I’ve learned a lot. Loads. I still have a long way to go and part of me feels I’ll never master it all. I don’t think anyone fully has. Well maybe Bruce Springsteen. Yeah, he’s got it. If you don’t think so, just watch his 2009 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Master class. Anyway, the point is, I’d spent most of this time backing other people who had more experience than me, watching from them, learning, until last year when I felt I was finally ready to release my own music.

The first song I wrote was a song called ‘Roses’. I wrote it for my good lady so when she wasn’t able to talk to me or when I wasn’t around, she could listen to this song, hear my voice and hopefully that might make things better. Out of the 3 songs on the E.P, that was the easiest one to write. The words sort of just came to me.

 “Help me to help you. Show me what to do. I’ll help you any way I can, I’ll hold you close I’ll make a plan. Just never stop believing in yourself. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself. Because the Sun is always shining when you smile. Lets stop and smell the roses for a while.”

She hates it when I’m away and although I love getting to travel and play I music, I miss her more than she knows. I also wrote a fiddle melody played beautifully by my friend Dave MacFarlane, who also recorded, produced and mastered the record.

The second song I wrote became the title of the E.P, ‘So Long’. The song is a middle-finger to my past troubles with alcoholism, however, it’s written to be read as if I’m talking about an ex-girlfriend.

 “Remember when we first met? You were trouble right from the start. You had such a hold on me. But I knew we’d have to part. So long, goodbye. You can’t even look me in the eye. So long, farewell. I’m no longer under your spell.”

I wanted this to be the up-beat feel good song of the record so wrote a catchy horn line and middle-eight to further the idea that I was now happier because of my abstinence from alcohol.

Finally, the third song of the record, ‘Dear Annabelle’, was written 2 days before going into the studio. I wanted to write a doo-wop number about a classic break up song from the mans point of view.

 “Dear Annabelle. This letter’s been a long time coming. Tried to write it so many times. But the words, fade to nothing. Dear Annabelle, I’m still not ready to move on. It’s not been easy I won’t lie. Knowing that your gone.”

I wanted the song to centre around him trying to write a letter to her, trying to get to grips with the fact that when he asked her to marry him, she said no. Tragic.

Now that the songs were written, I wanted to record them in my flat to give me maximum efficiency when I went into the studio. I also made a folder with each songs lyrics, key and tempo for even better efficiency (I know it sounds really unnecessary, but believe me, whilst recording, it made everything easier). I only had 3 days in the studio and there was one more obstacle that I haven’t mentioned yet. Apart from that fiddle melody I spoke about earlier, I was recording everything myself. Everything!

I should point out that without Dave’s guidance and knowledge, this record wouldn’t sound nearly half as good as it does. From layering the guitars and percussion to the arranging the trombone, trumpet and piano melodies, he made the record sound incredible.

The days in the studio were fantastic, we were driven, focussed and eager to make a great sounding record. Once that was done however, I knew I still had to actually release the thing. I knew I wanted to do as much of it myself as possible. In fact, the only bit I didn’t do was the distribution, that was done by a website called CDBaby with printing being done by DiscWizards and the artwork, which was done by my good lady. Everything else was done by myself with help from the good lady.

Drawing by my good lady that eventually became the artwork for the E.P

It just goes to show that you really don’t need a recording contract from a label to release your music professionally. If you have the drive and work-ethic to see it through to it’s fruition, then there is nothing stopping you from self-producing your own material.

If you fancy a listen to E.P I’ve been going on about, you can find it on my BandCampn. I’ve included a live version of  ‘So Long’, that me and the good lady recorded live in our living room.

Thanks for listening.



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