How do you create a full album of cinematic and/or orchestral music, and release it yourself, so that people can listen to your album on Spotify, Apple Music etc?
Today I have the honor to interview Troy Marshall, a professional composer who has just gone through this whole process, and will share the tips and insights he gained.
1. Hello Troy, what is your story and background as a composer?
In junior school I was recruited into the local brass band where I learnt to play the Cornet, I later had piano and music theory lessons. I think I was eleven when I borrowed my first drum kit, my parents were strangely supportive of my 8 hour daily practice sessions. I guess they paid off, I became the brass bands drummer and throughout school the only thing I was interested in was music..
I went to college and played in lots of bands. That’s where I discovered my passion for recording. You couldn’t get me out of the campus studio, I was bumping off most the important lessons just to stay in there.
After college I joined a rock band and actually did really well for a short period of time, we got signed, toured, released an album, but it wasn’t meant to last.
I spent many years creating music at home, obsessed with pro-tools. I knew how to create but had no idea what to create, I just made music that I liked, it was often weird and I had no idea what to do with it, the story of my life.
I love the music I hear in films, I am heavily influenced by composers like Hans Zimmer, Tom Holkenborg, Alan Silvestri to name a few. I would love to score movies and TV but I just didn’t see me getting the job without any experience. My biggest influence is Thomas Bergerson who doesn’t actually score for film at all, its all production music and self released albums. It worked out very well for him, so I thought maybe I could do something like that too.
It was 2018, I bought a new house and built a new studio within. All new toys, Cubase and a passion for music I had never thought would be possible to make before. Orchestral Vst’s maxed out my credit card and I began working on my album.
I entered a competition from a virtual instrument company called Samplehero, I submitted a track and a few days later I was contacted by Dan Brown Jr. He recruited me into the crime production music library Crimesonics. We spent a year writing under the radar where he mentored and taught me so much.
January 2019 Crimesonics went public and we released our music through BMG production music. It’s been two years of working both projects, it’s been a huge success.
2. What is the story behind this album, how did you come up with the concept, and why?
The first track I wrote was called ‘Playing With Regret’, at that point I had no idea where it was going but it sparked an idea. I then wrote ‘Sorceress’, I immediately knew the album was about her, it was this track that inspired everything from that point onward.
‘Risen From The Ashes’ symbolises coming back from the dead or perhaps rebooting my career whilst having someone in my life that supports it.
There’s a track called ‘Waking The Demon’, I think maybe I am that demon? Maybe I am looking too deep into this? It’s an album about a Witch who brings a Demon into the world, so she is no longer alone.
It’s been my life long ambition to make an album that I have complete control over, I’ve been making it for two years but it’s probably been stuck in my head for more than 20.
3. Regarding marketing/promoting your album, what tips can you give fellow composers?
The most important thing an artist should think about before releasing or promoting anything should be obvious. There’s no point spending any time, effort or money promoting something that isn’t going to sell. Take that extra time to make your work the best it can possibly be and don’t rush to get it out.
I think it’s important not to give too much away, I know it’s not easy keeping something you have put so much work into quiet. Apply the same tactics as any professional movie composer or artist, its better to work in silence and release with a loud bang!
Plan out a time line that will build up to your release with events, teasers and information. Spread it out. Don’t just say my album is OUT NOW!
Use everything and anything you can think of that will put it in peoples eye, social media being the biggest asset. Once it’s out look into boosting the important sales posts, focus on the positive, and keep being positive.
Make your art look amazing, I found a guy on Fiverr that designed all my artwork and then gave me the Photoshop source files so I could use it for advertising and presentation.
4. How do you intend to make any income from your album: streaming, direct sales, merch?
The album is being uploaded to every major site there is, streaming and for download. The income from streaming isn’t great but that’s how people listen to music these days, therefore if one in one hundred listeners download my album then its worth it.
I am taking full control over physical sales, I have built a high quality website and listeners can buy the album on CD from there. The CD product is printed on the highest quality glass master compact discs and packaged professionally, its a properly registered product with it’s own bar code.
I haven’t cut any costs on this, its the best possible product that I am mighty proud of. Every track on the album is ISRC and Performance Royalty registered, they can be licensed and I get paid wherever they are played.
I am also selling merchandise. I found a company that lets me design everything and run my own store, it’s all linked through my website too. They make everything to order so there are zero upfront costs to me, I get a percentage of any sales made. It’s a lot of fun making these products and it’s hard to resist buying it all for myself.
5. How will the album be released, independent distributor, or through a publisher?
After much research I am releasing the album through Cdbaby, I truly believe they are the best as it’s just a one off payment and my album is out forever.
It’s all in my hands so I can do whatever I want with it, no record company leaning over me to get their investment back. There is still the option of going to a publisher as I already release music for television so there is always the option to do the same with this.
6. What tips regarding self releasing an album can you give, from the lessons you learned?
There is a huge amount of planning and hanging around waiting on things to come together. I gave myself 5 weeks from submitting the application for releasing my album to its official release date, its looking really tight and I’ve had a few panics along the way.
If you are just going digital it can be straight forward but if you are making physical copies or any merchandise to tie in with your release, you better make sure its all going to arrive on time.
7. Thank you Troy, where can people find your album, and learn more about you?