Production - Don’t skimp on the quality of your sound! That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend a whole salary on good production, but good recording, mixing, and mastering is a must.
Strategy - Think about the message of your song. Who are you trying to reach? Where is the audience that you’re trying to reach? When is the best time to release music? What’s going on in the world that correlates to what you’re releasing? Posting a Soundcloud link to your personal Facebook page alone is not "releasing a song.” Develop a strategy that aligns with your goals for the music, or hire a strategist like Gospel PR.
Graphic Design - People decide in seconds whether they will listen to your project based on your image. Whether you choose find a college student to help you out or hire a professional graphic designer— use graphic design to tell your story and artistically show your sound.
Local Community Engagement - This investment involves time and treasure. So often I speak with artists who want to be national and global but have yet to saturate the market that they live in. Great examples of leaders in this area include Koran Bolden, SURF GVNG and Thi’sl. These gents are extremely mission focused and have saturated their cities with highway billboards, messages to youth, free mixtapes, presence at local events, grassroots marketing, providing back-to-school needs and so much more.
Mailing List - You should be building your mailing list everywhere you go. Collect emails and provide them with something to remember you by.
Professional Photography - Again, image is almost everything. I personally believe content is most important, but image is a close second. Having professional quality photography is a must for developing decent marketing materials and for press to consider you for interviews.
Marketing - I got a phone call from an artist who told me that he spent $100,000 on the production of an album that he didn’t have $1,500 to spend on promotion. That is incredibly backwards to me. Marketing is THE most important thing to consider while making music (unless you’re Beyonce) because you could have spent all of your money creating great music that no one will hear. Marketing is a combination of activities designed to sell a product. It includes advertising, promotional materials, interactive communications, publicity, direct mail, and special events. This is where you find, nurture, and grow a fanbase. Don’t skip it!
Copyright - Last but not least, protecting your art is essential. Visit www.copyright.gov to learn more about the process, and how to copyright your music.