The Right Time
by J.P. Kallio
Let’s talk about “the right time”. I have heard this over and over again over the years, I even believed this my self for years. “I will release my album and it is going to be a great one, once the time is right”. We think time is the great magical enabler, and when the planets finally align correctly everything will come together… Well…
When I decided to release 52 songs in a year, as I mentioned before, people thought I was crazy. They thought I would burnout, or give up. Now few people close to me know I usually think much further a head, and if I set out to do something, there is usually months of preparation gone in to it before hand.
So what I did was set out to build a following. I looked in detail how successful online businesses do this, how successful independent labels and artists do this. I adapted their methods to suit me and kept testing what worked and what did not. For starters I can say that social media is the key. I have some friends who hate social media with passion, they do their best to avoid it on the surface, (but still go searching under the cover of someone else…) thinking they are cool, or somehow better than the rest. Well, good on you I say. It is true, you can waste a lot of time online these days, but if you want to build a career in music, you need to be using the available online tools. And don’t leave it in the hands of your band mates, or “significant other”. If you are in a band, you have an advantage of sharing the workload, so step up to the game! If someone else has run your social media in the past, ask them how you can help. You’d be surprised how much those words might be appreciated. And for the umpteenth time, do not criticise the work of someone who is doing it for you, unless you are willing to get your own hands dirty!
So you might wonder here, why I did not wait until I had built the following? Or why I did kept releasing song after song (even after I hit my target of 52 songs) when my following was still quite modest? And here is the key message, so take notes. For me every one of those followers was a special one, and just because they came along early in the game, I did not want to leave them hanging waiting a year for new content. I wanted to reward the people who kept coming back with more content, more blog posts to read, more songs to listen to, more videos…
There is two ways to look at it, the fact is people’s attention span with the over load of content from social media these days is short. It is nothing to do with ADHD, or anything else we’d like to label it with. It is the simple fact that with so much content out there, our minds need to be more selective. If something we find is good, we stop and take it in. So not to be drowned out, you need to pop up often, and pop up with something new. The other way to look at it is maybe bit more “romantic”, but that’s the way I treat it. If people do follow you, why should you leave them hanging on, instead of rewarding them regularly for having faith in you and investing their valuable time on you?
The business of music has changed, but still we try to hold on to the old ways of “how it is supposed to be done”. I was advised by someone who actually is very well experienced in music business an I have a lot of respect for, to instead of releasing all of the 52 songs in one year, to just release one album (the old way) and keep the rest as a leverage for a possible future record deal. I think if I would analytically look at the odds of this happening, I would be sitting on those three albums and the EP for the rest of my life.
You see, I don’t like leaving things to chance, when I have the power to do something about it. Sure thing, if a label would come knocking, I’m sure they could speed up my progress, or hopefully bring in some extra revenue. But I sure as hell wont be sitting around waiting.
So where does this leave other musicians? OK, I know for many people the 52 songs in a year might be a stretch. Even though I believe you can do it if you just commit to it, I do not expect every band and a musician to do it. But try to think about releasing new songs more often. They don’t need to be released as albums, that is the old way of thinking! Release a new song every few weeks or even once a month. Give your fans something to look forward to. Get blogging, write about things that are important to you, or your band. Surely you can do this once or twice a month? And again if you are in a band, share the workload. Not every blog post need to be a Hemingway piece. It is much more important that you write something honest from your heart, than literary master piece.
You see, the time will never be right. There will always be something on the way, or something more urgent. Just go for it today and stop using the “right time” as an excuse. When you are on your death-bed, you will not regret for not waiting for the right time, you regret not giving it a go in the first place.
J.P. Kallio is a singer-songwriter