MusicianFilter: What should I do with my recordings?
November 30, 2004 8:42 AM   Subscribe

MusicianFilter: What should I do with my recordings? [MI]
posted by ludwig_van to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Smart Dalek at 8:45 AM on November 30, 2004


I'm a college student in Pittsburgh studying music composition and creative writing, with songwriting as the unifying goal. Over the summer I went into a studio and recorded four of my songs with full band arrangements (although I don't actually have a band right now). The songs are melodic pop/rock and I think they have a pretty broad appeal. I'm very happy with the songs and the recordings, but I've just been sitting on them since I finished.

The question is, what should I do next? Should I send them somewhere to try and get some exposure? Is there a good way to make some money from these via online distribution? Should I print CDs on my own and try to sell them at coffee shop performances? If so, can anyone recommend a company that offers this service? Should I focus on trying to attract bandmates and performing locally? This is a tough one for a few reasons, including my own academic commitments, and trying to find band members who are competent musicians, who think along the same lines musically, and who are willing to basically be my backup band.

Any advice would be appreciated. I'm not sure what the etiquette is here, but I'll link to the recordings if anyone is interested.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:49 AM on November 30, 2004


Another thought: I have a couple other songs ready to be recorded, but I'm not sure when I'll get the chance to go into a studio again, not to mention the money issue. Should I wait until I have more songs to present?
posted by ludwig_van at 8:53 AM on November 30, 2004


Should I print CDs on my own and try to sell them at coffee shop performances?

Of all the people I know who do music, including myself, the one who is the most satisfied with his situation is a guy who does exactly this. He just plays coffee shops and considers himself living background music; and he actually sells a decent number of CDs doing it.

Should I focus on trying to attract bandmates and performing locally? This is a tough one for a few reasons, including my own academic commitments, and trying to find band members who are competent musicians, who think along the same lines musically, and who are willing to basically be my backup band.

Doing this could be really fulfilling if you can find a group of musicians you like hanging out with, don't expect immense amounts of money, and don't take things too seriously. If the group personalities don't work, or if there are varying levels of commitment/expectation, you're setting yourself up for pain.
posted by COBRA! at 8:54 AM on November 30, 2004


Thanks for the comment, cobra. I should also clarify that while the coffee shop situation can be fun and I've made some decent money from it, my music is a little bigger than that setting; i.e., drums and electric guitars. It works acoustically, but it's just not the same, you know?
posted by ludwig_van at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2004


I have a couple other songs ready to be recorded, but I'm not sure when I'll get the chance to go into a studio again, not to mention the money issue. Should I wait until I have more songs to present?

I'd say the cost of printing a four-song EP (and the time spent making cover art, liner notes, etc.) would probably outweigh the benefit. Wait until you have a reservoir of more songs. That way, someone checking out your CD has a greater probability of finding something that hits them just so.

As for the money, consider recording yourself. With digital recording so cheap and the huge variety of software programs and digital 4- and 8-track recorders (look here and here, for example), if you have any inclination to become a producer and any technical proficiency you could record just-about-studio-quality music at home. An added benefit is the satisfaction of producing your own music.

Good luck, man.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:15 AM on November 30, 2004


A small number of musicians have recorded spare demos with MIDI instruments sequenced as backing tracks. The tracks, while not being part of the regular demo, would offer a reference for potential bandmates/backup musicians. Rythmn tracks of this sort can offer a lot of feedback as far as how a band may want to acommodate bass and drum patterns in a live setting, or decide if the vocalist(s) are comfortable with the pacing. It would be better to save such tracks for the actual process of auditioning new members; you would only need enough copies for yourself and the actual members you finally decide to take on. Any larger number of discs would be reserved for a simpler demo of your work in progress which you could sell at small gigs and local record stores.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:17 AM on November 30, 2004


I've been facing this same problem for years. Ultimately, due to my geographic location, the only real success I have had was sharing my songs online. I have a writing partner, and at one point we had a full band, but we don't bother anymore. We have our own mini-studio, and spend a few hours a week crafting new pop masterpieces.

I don't worry about "success" anymore, having resigned to the fact that I have a greater chance getting hit by lightning than have any "success" with my songs. However, I love listening to my own stuff, as do my circle of friends, and a few emails from random people that hear my music online keep me motivated.

We spent some money on CD's, which felt good to have for my own enjoyment, but thats about it.

Good luck.
posted by Quartermass at 9:29 AM on November 30, 2004


First I'd say, look at your time budget and your money budget and do as many of these options as your spirit, pocketbook, and schedule can stand. In other words, do more than one thing in an effort to build whatever you are trying to build: career, reputation, etc.

Personally I think a limited self-release right now is good for you:
Play the coffee shops and sell the four-song ep there.
Attract potential bandmates with the ep as well.
Sell the EP online.

Songs released early on an EP you've put out yourself can be included in a later full-length or some other collection. The self-release shows initiative, gives you something tangible to sell (for the people that like that) and further promote yourself.
posted by safetyfork at 9:35 AM on November 30, 2004


Ok, here's another route, submit your songs to publishers.

-Best Case Scenario- You send your demo to a guy at EMI publishing, he likes it and signs you up. You get a chunkable advance check recoupable from future mechanical or synch royalties. It is then in EMI's interest to pitch your compositions to the A&R staff at record labels. If the A&R staff like your tune, it could end up as track 9 on the 'next big things' album. Soon you are trading industry secrets with Diane Warren.

More reasonable route. Work with a smaller publisher that has access to both A&R departments and music supervisors at media companies. The advance will be smaller (or non-existent) and probability of penning Avril's next single much smaller, but you never know. Oh, publisher take an admin fee of your fees, so there is nothing to pay them unless your song gets picked up ( usually 50% goes to the publisher, but shop around).

I have been kicking around the idea of starting my own publishing company, so I would be happy to take a listen.
posted by remlapm at 9:36 AM on November 30, 2004


you can submit the songs you've already written to somesongs, and you can write new songs for contests at songfight. neither one will help you make money, at least directly, but you'll get helpful feedback on your songs and become part of an online community of musicians. those two groups of people probably have plenty of tips about both the quality and marketing of your music. good luck!
posted by equipoise at 9:37 AM on November 30, 2004


Thanks for the ideas folks, but does anyone have any links to provide? i.e.,

Sell the EP online.

Where?

Work with a smaller publisher

Such as? etc.

Also, there's a link to my music on my user page.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:42 AM on November 30, 2004


Sell the EP online.

Where?

You could try setting up a simple site, and accept orders through email. You could accept money orders through the post if you don't wish to sign your life away to PayPal.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:48 AM on November 30, 2004


Forgot link.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:50 AM on November 30, 2004


I was thinking of setting up a site for oneself as Smart Dalek has suggested, but I've also had some friends who think highly of CD Baby
posted by safetyfork at 9:57 AM on November 30, 2004


Don't forget to join ASCAP or BMI while you are at it.
posted by konolia at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2004


One note: nobody will buy your CDs unless they have a reason to--and for "melodic pop/rock" that doesn't have a certain fame level already, that means unless they've seen you perform live. A new rock band these days has ZERO chance of being heard by ANYBODY unless they get out and play locally until they have some kind of reputation that can spread, and then tour tour tour tour tour until the wheels fall off, put the wheels back on and tour some more.

Play coffeehouses. Ask people you know and like to play music with you. Invite friends to see you play. If they like it enough, they'll invite more people, who will buy your CDs at gigs. (They don't have to be fancy and they definitely don't have to be expensive. Burn CDs and make some kind of cool-looking handmade cover. "Cool-looking" and "handmade" beat "professional" ten times out of ten in this context.)
posted by 88robots at 1:36 AM on December 1, 2004


These sites offer a free 'artist page', good for 3 or 4 songs:

15 Megs Of Fame
SoundClick
Garageband.com

Your songs are publicly available, and if they're any way decent, they'll get ranked on the 'top' lists increasing your exposure.

(And I second equipoise's answer: SongFight/SomeSongs are great, even if the music isn't always.)
posted by deshead at 3:39 AM on December 1, 2004


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