How nice would it be to hand someone your CD without a disclaimer? One way to do that is to make the most of your budget and don’t overreach on your next CD release.
Finding the funds for your recording project is one of the first hurdles you have to cross when embarking on your next CD release. All too often, I’ll see an artist work to find the funding for her recording only to fail miserably at project management. Too many independent music artists are engrossed with recording a full length CD, so they focus on how to achieve that goal within their budget rather than making the most of the money they’ve raised. They choose quantity over quality.
Professionally, this is a poor choice.
My advice is to ask yourself one question: What’s your intention?
Do you want to be perceived as a professional artist, or do you want to record a vanity project? In other words, are you planning on selling (hopefully) large quantities of your CD, or are you recording this for your own personal benefit? If you intend to sell your music, you need to understand and recognize that you are competing with all your favorite artists, the ones who inspired you.
Quality stands out in a crowd. Your recording – and every song – has to be great or you will not rise above the crowd. Your mother and your friends might understand and look past the fact that your project sounds amateur. Consumers won’t. If the songs don’t blow people away and the record doesn’t sound amazing, it won’t sell. If consumers don’t buy your record, that means no one is listening to it.
If no one is listening to your CD, that basically means you have a vanity project. A vanity project, in this scenario, means it’s just for you, your friends, and your family – which is totally fine, unless your dream is to make a living making off your music.
Step 1: Reality check
It’s confusing to me to hear artists wax on about how they want to record albums like their heroes did, back when they “made the records they wanted to make.” However, the artists they speak of were on major labels with incredible infrastructure in all aspects of the record making process.
These artists wrote world-class songs, often with hit songwriters, and worked with world-class musicians – often not the same musicians in the band! Your musical heroes worked with professional engineers and producers and recorded in A-list studios.
So they “made the records they wanted to make” with a top-flight team of professionals who earned their livings making records – which, by the way, is a vastly different skill set than recording music.
Don’t you think this is an important fact to consider? Unless you have the proper skill set and an incredible in-home studio, if you want your project to be competitive at the highest levels, you will not be able to record everything in a home studio all by yourself.
The good news is, it is easier and less expensive than ever before to gain access to quality recording professionals and a pro studio.
Step 2: Choose quality over quantity
Being in the recording business, I constantly see artists set their projects up for failure before they ever enter the studio. They are convinced they HAVE to record a full length CD because it’s always “been their dream” to do so.
Bur is the dream really to record one album of 10 songs, or is the dream to be a professional artist who finds an audience and makes a living selling music to a dedicated fan base?
The problem is, a smaller budget won’t allow for quality AND quantity. The artist then chooses quantity – his 10-song project – and goes shopping for a place that will deliver it on his budget. I promise you, if you are looking for a studio that will charge $250/song or $25/song, you will find it. The quality of your recorded tracks will reflect it, but you will indeed have the 10 song CD you always dreamed of. But did you win or lose?
What if you focused on quality instead of quantity?
True story. We were approached by an amazing Canadian singer/songwriter named Tanya Marie Harris who was ready to record her next project. I remember her saying, “Johnny, for what you and Kelly are charging me for two songs, I could record a whole CD up here in Toronto.” I remember preparing my usual response of “Well, we aren’t your guys then…” when she followed that up with, “but it would be mediocre and I need something awesome. This is my last shot and I want these tracks to blow people away.”
Tanya recorded two songs and is building a real career on the strength of those tracks. We recorded “A Woman Scorned” and “Secondhand Dreams,” which currently has nearly 2 million YouTube views and is getting more spins on radio every day. Tanya signed a deal with a Nashville management company and is touring constantly.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Quality is better than quantity. One home run is better than 2 doubles.” He put his money where his mouth is. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built their very first run of Apple computers out of Wozniak’s garage. They had a limited budget and chose to manufacture 50 quality computers over a quantity of 500 of a lesser quality. The rest is history. Are you ready to make some of your own?
Johnny Dwinell is a veteran Los Angeles artist/producer/businessman who created Daredevil Production in 2011 to provide innovative artist development in the new music business. In mid 2013 Daredevil Production started a weekly blog as a free resource for artists and songwriters to use for inspiration, advice, support, and knowledge. In late 2013 Johnny Dwinell wrote the bestselling Music Marketing On Twitter book. Thousands of artists and songwriters have improved their understanding and execution of social media with the help of this free book!
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