Writing a song or even just learning a solid cover on the guitar can be a lot of work.
If you’ve gotten to that point, this is a list of things you can now do with that music.
Some of the things are specific to either cover songs or originals, though I’ve identified which ones are which.
Maybe not every item here is applicable to your situation, but if you have music sitting around, either in your head or recorded and ready to go, these are some possible next steps that can help you put that music to good use.
If you need some inspiration or ideas for possible cover songs, these lists might be helpful to you.
1. Make a demo video and post it on YouTube.
If you’ve got good material, YouTube might be all you need to gain some popularity. Even if you’re just doing a cover, smile for the camera and post away.
2. Make a lesson video and post it on YouTube.
Again, this works particularly well if you’re dealing with a cover song. People use YouTube to look up lessons and tutorials for the guitar all the time. Record an informative lesson and post it.
3. Tab out the song and post it to Ultimate Guitar.
Ultimate-Guitar.com is the biggest guitar tab site on the web, so contributing is never a bad idea. See if you can find a song that hasn’t been posted for yet, or one that only has a few versions.
4. Record it and remix the song with Garage Band.
If you have a Mac you can use Garage Band to record your song and do just about anything to it.
5. If it’s original, record each track and check Music Clout for companies looking for original music.
Music Clout is a website that scours the internet for music opportunities for independent and amateur musicians. If you can find something that suits your tracks, submit them and you could get paid.
6. Play it for friends and family.
Never a bad idea, if only for honest feedback.
7. Add a drum and bass track.
You can do this with GarageBand or manually if you’re multi-talented.
8. Add sound effects with a keyboard.
Again, this can be done with software, but if you’ve got a keyboard you can really add to the completeness of a song with a good synthesizer.
9. Make a page on Pure Volume and upload your song so you can share it via social media.
Pure Volume is a social media networking site for musicians. Make yourself a page and post the song.
10. Break it down into rhythm and lead parts and record both tracks.
If you haven’t written one or the other, write and record the part you’ve left out. Typically the rhythm segment will be the first to get written.
11. If you know anyone in the music industry, pitch it to them.
This might be a long shot, but if you happen to know somebody who has an in, take advantage of it and send them your track.
12. Write lyrics.
If you didn’t do it originally, get your songbird on and add some lyrics. Don’t be shy.
13. If it’s a cover song, add your guitar track to the original and make an MP3. Another guitar is always nice.
I have a few songs on my iPod that I’ve recorded off of YouTube that just sound better with the extra guitar. Here are a couple good examples:
14. Submit it to your local radio station.
You might surprised here. Some stations will play music from local artists
15. Submit it to a local business looking for cheap music for their radio ads. They’ll probably pay you for it if they like it.
This is really hit or miss, but if you know there’s a business looking for an ad, write something that you think would suit their business and the product they’re selling.
16. Write and track a solo for the song.
Having a tracked solo gives your music more credibility. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but make sure you track and tab it so you can play it more than once.
17. Tinker with your pedal board and see if any effects fit in with the song.
A lot of times you can get a better effect for certain parts of the song if you experiment. Try some different sounds and see if you can improve your track.
18. Tinker with your amp setting to see if you can get a better sound.
The same goes for your amplifier. There’s a high probability you can make some adjustments to improve things and tailor them for your song.
19. If it’s a cover song, see if you can find the other non-guitar tracks. Record it, then upload an “instrumental” version of the song to YouTube.
These can be hard to find, but they’re pretty fun to listen to, and even better if you can contribute. Here’s a good example.
20. If you play in a band, pitch it to your band and see if they want to learn it.
You probably would have done this anyway, but it’s worth mentioning in case someone forgets the obvious.
21. Try it out at a bar gig, and see how people respond.
If you get the opportunity to play a small venue gig, give your song a try and see if people like it. When it’s just you and a guitar, pretty much anything goes anyway.
22. Try some different rhythmic variations of the song. You might be able to come up with a better sound.
Experimenting with different rhythms is tricky, because you don’t want to drastically alter the song. Keep it simple, but try some different strumming patterns and techniques to try and “groove” it up.
23. If it’s a cover song, tweet it to the original artist. They might give you an RT and a nice shout out.
24. Share it on guitar forums and music sites. There’s usually a self promotion section, just be careful not to banter people.
There are a lot of great guitar-related forums online to choose from, and many of them have a section set aside for self-promotion and plugging for your own band or music. Most of the time this is a tough sell, but it’s at least worth posting a link.
25. Write a part II of the song.
Part II could either be just as good (or bad) or could be an improvement on the original piece. If nothing else, it gives you the opportunity to possibly rework the song and come up with a better way of playing it.
26. Come up with a unique intro.
Intros are far more open to creativity than other parts of the song. Guitarists like Tom Morello take full advantage of this.
27. Come up with a unique outro.
Same thing goes for outros. Use some weird effects or just come up with something unique to wrap up the song.
28. Add a second guitar track to give it a more powerful feel.
Just adding a second rhythm track that plays the exact same thing can make the song more powerful and professional sounding. You might have to be thrifty about mixing it, but if you have the ability to do that, don’t pass it up.
29. Add a harmony guitar track.
Guitar harmonies can really make a solo pop, or even bring out a chorus riff. Do some experimenting here and if you find something that works, record it as another track and mix it in.
30. Add an acoustic guitar track to back up your electric guitar, or vice versa.
An acoustic guitar at a really low volume can boost your rhythm and give your track a fuller sound. If you have an acoustic, experiment with different picks and strumming patterns. Even if you can just hear the scratch of the strings, it can still make your song more dynamic.
31. Figure out the chords of your song and make an acoustic friendly chord chart.
This is basically the equivalent of tabbing out an “unplugged” version of the song. Once you’re finished, consult #32.
32. Use the chord chart from 31 and create an “unplugged” version of the song.
Once you’ve got the chords nailed down, record an unplugged version of the song. Again, there’s a lot you can do here and if you have a second unplugged track to submit with the original, you’ll up your chances of getting noticed.
33. Scrap it and start all over.
It’s never a bad idea. I’ve even heard that scrapping a few years worth of songs and starting over can be a wise move.
34. Figure out the scales and musical qualities that are being used in the song, then write a guitar lesson based off of it.
Using the song to teach, or to improve your technique can help you better understand what it is you’re playing. Take your time to jot it all down and you’ll be better equipped to explain it to band mates.
35. Record an MP3 version of it on your computer and then use it as your ringtone.
There’s a downside and upside to this. The downside is you’ll get tired of hearing your own song anyway, and a ringtone can only make it worse. The upside is that people around you will hear your song when someone calls. Simple enough.
36. Put it on a CD and try it out in your car’s stereo system as a quality gauge.
Since you know what music is supposed to sound like in your car, play your song through your car’s system to see if it measures up in terms of quality.
37. Use audacity to mix the tracks and improve them.
Audacity is simple, free software that can record and mix audio tracks. You might have something more powerful, but if not, this gives you a lot of the basic functionality you need to mix a few tracks.
38. Record sound effects and material for both the right and left channel.
This is a tactic you can employ as an offshoot of #37. Take the time to decide where you can move sounds to the left or right. You can really improve the authenticity of your music by putting some time into this part of the mix.
39. If it’s original and you’ve written lyrics, go back and re-visit them to try and improve on them.
Lyrics can sound great one day, then embarrass you the next. Don’t be too picky, but try and come up with ways to improve on what you’ve already written.
40. Smash your guitar.
If you get through the whole process and you’ve just got a lot of pent up aggression to unleash, take it out on your guitar. Except, please don’t do that…ever.