John is a fervent writer, gamer, and guitar lover. Former automatic-transmission repairer, welder and hobbyist game developer.
Making an album is a long and arduous task, and one that can often depend on a number of factors outside of your control. But when you pour your heart and soul into your music, it’s understandable to want to have some of it out there for people to hear. Fortunately, in today’s world of self publishing, content creation, and home studios, there’s nothing stopping you from putting out your own EP to satiate your fans (or just yourself).
This article will walk you through the process.
Should You Release an EP
Just because you CAN, doesn't necessarily mean you should.
Before we get into the how, I want to touch on whether you should release an EP. There are a number of reasons you might want to release an EP on SoundCloud. You might want to get your work out there in the hope of being noticed. You might be looking to draw a line under something you’ve been working on and move on to new pastures. You might just be so abundantly creative that you have stacks and stacks of unused songs just begging to be heard. But are there any downsides?
Most obviously, once you’ve put a song out in any form, it can never be “new music” again. Even if you re-record it with a big label budget and an army of engineers behind you, it’s still going to be a song that you’ve already put out there. If you have a song that you think has great potential—potential that wouldn’t be fulfilled with a quiet EP release on SoundCloud—hold it back, wait for the right time to unleash it on the world.
On the other hand, if you already have an established fan base, releasing an EP on SoundCloud can be a great way to keep them happy and interested in your work. EPs don’t tend get a lot of attention—not like single and album releases—but those who are interested and invested in your music will lap it up.
In the end you have to weigh up your hopes for the music you’re thinking of releasing against the limited scope of a SoundCloud EP release. If you want great things for that music, if you dream of it reaching number one in the charts, you probably shouldn’t put it out on an EP. If it’s experimental music, or demos, or just music you’re proud of but are no longer interested in making, then an EP could well be the way to go.
After all, you worked hard on that music, there’s no sense in leaving it on a hard drive somewhere to collect virtual dust for all eternity!
Preparing Your Music
What? You didn't think you could just UPLOAD it did you?
Once the decision has been made to release music on SoundCloud, you need to prepare it for that medium. It’s a sad fact that sites like SoundCloud, YouTube, iTunes, and others, all do things to your audio when you upload them. What’s worse is that they don’t all do it the same way. As a dedicated artist with pride in their work, you’re going to want to compensate for these changes, so SoundCloud doesn’t diminish your hard work.
There are comprehensive articles out there written by people far more qualified than I on why you need to mix specifically for SoundCloud, so I won’t do you the disservice of trying to explain it properly here. But to over simplify things for you, streaming services such as SoundCloud do something called loudness normalisation. The long and short of it is, if your track is too loud or too quiet, they will compress it to a more standardised level. Obviously, if you or your producer have spent hard hours achieving the perfect mix, you don’t want SoundCloud ruining it by compressing all the nuances and detail away.
If you are using a professional producer, or just someone who knows their stuff, they will probably know all about this. Just make sure you tell them you intend to upload the track to SoundCloud. And if you’re doing it yourself and are unsure what to do, head on over to Google and search something like, “mixing for SoundCloud”.
Get it Together
It's time to make that music EP-ready.
The first thing you should do is decide what order you want the tracks on your EP to be in. If this were merely a playlist it wouldn’t really matter, but an EP is tracklisted, so you should make sure that the order your songs are in is to your liking. Especially if those songs follow any kind of narrative.
The next thing to do is pick a name. This can be anything you want, it’s entirely your preference. However, it really should have some kind of link to the music on the EP, even if it’s a very tenuous link. If you’re struggling to come up with a title, an easy fall back is to a pick a favourite line from one of your songs (assuming your music has vocals) and use that. Failing that, I would recommend listening to your EP in the dark—preferably through some good headphones—and waiting for inspiration to hit.
The final piece of the puzzle is the album art. This would, in the case of a physical CD or vinyl record, be the picture on the case or sleeve, but in this situation it will mostly be seen in music apps and on the SoundCloud website. Again, there is no hard rule about what you can use (though you should stay away from anything hardline offensive), but it should bear some relevance to the title of the EP and the music contained therein. Again, it doesn’t have to be an obvious link.
If art isn’t really your thing, you might be able to find someone with graphical chops who’ll help you out, or perhaps pay a professional, but with the multitude of easy-to-use image editing apps available, you should be able to get away with just picking a nice picture from your camera roll and putting the EP title on it.
Album Cover Design Process
Uploading Your Songs
Now you're ready to go, let's get those songs on SoundCloud
Uploading is a straightforward process. Obviously you’ll need a SoundCloud account, so go ahead and take care of that if you haven’t already. Once you’re ready to upload, simply click the upload button and fill out the details. For the most part, this is all fairly self-explanatory. You’ll need to enter the name of your track, the genre, a brief description, and your album art. You’ll also need to tell SoundCloud whether you want the track to be public or private. This will need to be public, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a “release”!
It gets a little more complicated with the “metadata” section, so I’ll start by saying that if you’re only releasing your EP on SoundCloud, and you’re not selling the music anywhere, you can ignore most of this section. You should fill out the artist and composer box, the release title (the name of your EP), and check whether or not it contains explicit content. Finally, you need to choose your license. “All Rights Reserved” is exactly what it sounds like; you retain all rights to use and sell your music. “Creative Commons” comes in a number of flavours, ranging from your music being free to all to use for any purpose, to free to use for non-commercial ventures but only with attribution.
And on a related note, the final section is “permissions”. In this section you can tell SoundCloud what you want let people do with your track. For example, you can allow comments, enable allowing people to embed your song in external sites, allow them to download your track, and more.
The music is mixed, uploaded, and ready. Now what?
Once your music is uploaded, you need to put it into a playlist. For now it doesn’t really matter what order you enter the songs, we’ll deal with that next. When you create your playlist (or in the settings if you’re using a pre-existing playlist) there is an option to change the “playlist type”. In here, you can select EP, album, regular playlist, and so on. Give your EP a title, release date, description, and album art, and then move onto the “tracks” section to put your songs into the carefully deliberated order you have chosen.
The final step is, once again, “metadata”. In here you can enter the information of your record label (if you have one), add a link to where the music can be bought, and a few other things.
And there you have it, your EP is released on SoundCloud. Now all that remains is to tell people about it!
© 2017 John Bullock
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