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Once youíve been around the block a few times and tasted what success sounds and feels like, youíll want to record your own CD. People are drawn to make recordings for many different reasons. Sometimes it's to advance (or start) a career. Sometimes it's to give life to new songs or share the music with a wider audience. On a personal level, it can be a memorable creative experience.
Choosing what to record is not the same as selecting music to perform on stage. Your stage how is as much a matter of style and taste as it is image and direction. Concerts are about entertainment and exposing your music. Itís about rapport and applause, giving and taking; building an audience you hope will one day become a following. Concerts promote your music.
Recording is different. A CD is a musical painting. Without the visual benefit of live performance, it comes to matters of hearing and listening. Technology makes it possible to record and market your music at an affordable cost especially if you decide to self-produce your recordings. That can work, up to a point. The production process and studio you select must live up to your expectations and those of your fans.
Iíve had more than a few recording experiences. My first encounter was with a jazz-blues-rock group called Celebration. We couldnít afford to record but we were writing original material and our fans were asking us to record. In desperation I suppose - better to do something than nothing - we set up a two track recording system in an old church. The acoustics were incredible and the atmosphere was terrific. Looking back, we looking for and expecting a miracle. We were finished in a few hours. Delivering the master tape to an independent record pressing factory, a month later, we sold out the first 500 copies overnight. The sound was awful but somehow we managed to capture the spirit and intent of the band. There wasnít a single complaint. Still, for obvious reasons, we didnít make any more copies.
Itís a commonly held belief that all you need is a computer with a sound card and a 'multimedia microphone' to record at home. In a sense thatís true. A home studio can be as simple as a cassette deck and an inexpensive microphone set up in the corner of your basement. Roland, Korg and Yamaha offer all-in-one combination digital mixer/hard disk recorder/effects units that are as close to a true 'studio-in-a-box' as you can get. You may not be entirely satisfied with the results any more than we were with Celebrations first effort..
Moving up in the world, a few years later we recorded at the old Masters Workshop studio on a four track. The sound was a little better. The difference was that I had few expectations. The recording was a demo to be played for a Capitol records A & R man. The quality didnít have to be there or so I thought. Regrettably, I was wrong. He failed to be impressed by what he considered to be an unprofessional effort. The session was over in thirty seconds; a missed opportunity to impress someone who could have done wonders in launching my career.
There were other experiences and good lessons learned. Donít expect too much from a home recording. If you want a professional CD good enough to get radio air play or to sell in stores, you're probably better off making a professional studio recording. The only problem with that is studio time is expensive, unless you have money to burn, youíre going to have to live with the final recording for a long time. Itís a tough decision to make; certainly food for thought.
On a bad day you canít see the stars. Clouds cover the sun. The air is tough to breathe. Everything seems to go wrong. Nothing feels right. Youíll need all the help you can get. Youíve got nothing to lose. Youíll be ready to try anything. The hottest new Britney Spears recording will sell off the shelf in no time flat. You wonít find it that easy. Music industry dumpsters are filled to overflowing with music that failed to sell. Youíll take what you can get; even a recording contract if it might give you the chance of getting anywhere.
On a good day, the birds sing. The flowers bloom. Everything seems right. Itís a joy to be alive. Nothing can harm you. Youíre strong and bold and beautiful. You believe in yourself and know without a doubt that you canít lose. Youíll do your best to go it alone.
Mass merchandising is a fools game. Sometimes it seems that the only ones who make any money are retailers. Even they make very little in spite of high volume of cash and merchandise changing hands. There are no shortcuts. Youíll need to sell your CD one at a time. If youíre like me, you live in a real world with real problems and real opportunities; a world that doesnít care. Whether you succeed or fail is of no consequence to anyone but you. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Only you can decide what kind of day youíre going to have.
As your market grows geographically, covering more and more territory, youíll find more than a few independent music and book stores will sell your CD. It will get a little easier all the time. Who knows, maybe some day a major label will discover you and make a offer you canít refuse to record the music youíve been playing all along.
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