Music Muse

Riding the .WAV – Negotiating the Realities of Music Making

James Dring sheds some light on some of the processes of creating and releasing music as a young independent artist.

As an artist, the most regular questions I receive tend to pertain to the lyrical content or release date of a track or an EP. Fans are always eager to know when the newest song will drop and friends love to guess what or who is my inspiration. What is interesting to me is that these are polar opposite ends of the creative process – the initial idea and the finished product. I receive very few questions about the practical journey of an idea from my brain to a mixed and mastered .wav file ready to be distributed across Spotify and Apple Music. So for this, my first article, I have chosen to focus on the seemingly unrecognised steps in the creative process in particular those most relevant to small independent artists. This article should provide some clarity to those aspiring to share their creativity to the world and shine a light on the real practicalities of making music that happen behind the scenes.

Much like finding a job, finding a technically equipped space to record your track can be as much about who you know as what you know. My first time recording in a studio was in 2020 before the pandemic with York rapper Kritikal Powers who I had simply come across and began interacting with on Instagram. Despite the studio being a small room built into a garage, it was at this point that thedream became much more real. It surprised me how significant the atmosphere was in affecting my creativity and productivity and how almost sentimental I became for the little room where I brought my ideas to life.

Of course, many artists choose to record at home which does add a certain genuine rawness to the sound and vibe. It can form the start of an almost rags to riches tale for artists as they develop which audiences continue to enjoy and can relate to. I myself have created music at home however in the studio, perhaps more than the time spent writing, was where I enjoyed the most development as an artist becoming much more confident and willing to experiment with different styles. It was surprising how significant the step of finding a location was for work ethic and the path I took as an artist; it would be wrong to underestimate the importance of the environment in which you deliver your message. Recording in a studio offered me a strong bond with Powers and on-the-job education which I could never have learned from YouTube. I cannot stress the value of finding genuine mentors within the existing local music community. The knowledge they can share from their own experiences can help you to avoid their past mistakes, providing patience and perspective which you will likely share
with other artists in the future.

I was lucky enough to speak to Kritikal Powers for this article:

“Having been a recording artist for 15 years I recognise the value and importance of having a strong foundation when it comes to recording and access to the appropriate facilities. My advice to up and coming artists would be to try and find a studio that understands the sound you are trying to create and build a positive relationship with the engineers. I would also strongly recommend that artists learn about the recording process themselves and gain an understanding of what the equipment does. This gives the artist the ability to contribute to the recording process and suggest ideas that could enhance the end product.”

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  • Image Credit: Kritikal Powers

As a final point both for this piece and in terms of creating music, I feel not enough is said about the process of distributing music to virtual stores like Spotify and Apple Music. This is one area about which I can say I genuinely knew nothing – I had imagined the process similar to uploading a YouTube video. In reality, while still being a relatively simple, it took time for me to understand the pros and cons of services with random names I’d never even heard of like Distrokid and Ditto. There are so many opinions and reviews out there it did feel quite overwhelming for me as a new artist. I feel the best advice I could give would be to arm yourself with knowledge from reliable sources be it mentors, fellow artists or rated content creators online. Once you’ve selected a distributor and membership much of the weight can be lifted. Now it really is as easy as uploading your banger and your stylish album art, picking a title and clicking ‘send’.

Trust me when I say every step in this process is worth it. There will be complications and the first time it will probably feel like everything is taking forever but see it through until the end because there is no a more satisfying feeling than seeing your album art on Spotify and blasting your new track through a speaker for the first time.

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