Show Me The CD...If You Think Your Music’s Great, Record It!
By Sheena Metal
Throughout the history of modern music, there hasn’t been a musical artist/band who doesn’t think that their songs are all #1 hits just waiting to be discovered. Many of these artists have been correct and have stood by grinning as their tunes screeched up the charts. This inspires a new crop of musicians every year to feverishly pen their potential hits in hopes of making it big.
Musicians write. They rehearse. They play clubs and hope that one day they’ll encounter that special A&R guy (or gal) that will, see them, dig them, sign them, and make them stars. But surprisingly enough, many of these bands never complete what is probably the most important tool for any musician signed or unsigned…they never record a CD.
It cannot be stressed enough that the CD is at the heart of any musical project. It is the physical embodiment of the song, the combination of writing and performing. It’s any musician’s skeleton key for: club gigs, reviews, and radio play. CDs enable you to draw the attention of fans and industry at the same time. Whether containing one song or twenty, the possibilities of the unsigned artist’s CD are endless. Post them on the web. Get them to the press. Give them to your friends. Sell them at your shows. Send them to the record labels. Your CD lets the world know who you are and what you sound like and gives anyone who digs your music the opportunity to listen to it again and again.
So, how can you make sure that you’re CD does your music justice while appealing to fans and industry alike? While there is not one set way to record a CD, there are certain key elements that every professional CD should possess.
The following are a few tips that may help you to make sure that your CD will help your band instead of hindering it:
1.) It’s Not The Size, It’s What You Do With It---It doesn’t matter how long your CD is, only that it accurately portrays your sound and vibe. If you don’t have a lot of time or money to spend in the studio then record for quality instead of quantity. It’s better to have one really kick ass tune recorded then a full length CD that sounds like it was recorded on a boom box in your basement. But that doesn’t mean that your CD needs to be expensive or time consuming. The advanced technology of digital recordings has afforded musicians/bands the opportunity to record in smaller home studios and still come away with professional sounding recordings. It’s now all about finding an engineer with a fantastic ear and the mastery of his/her own gear regardless of how inexpensive it may be.
2.) Record And Mix For The Song---Remember a song is a collaboration. Even if you’re the sole musician and engineer of your CD, recording a song is still an ensemble project. Instruments, voices and effects must all work together as a team to produce the best possible finished project. If a guitar line is too busy, a kick drive is too loud, or a voice is perpetually off key, the overall quality of the finished product is compromised. There is a delicate balance of creativity and technology, of art and electronics that comes together to produce the wonder that is your CD. Treat that balance with respect. Put your ego aside and record with the songs as your absolute priority.
3.) Less Talk And More Action---Certainly there is a great deal of preparation that is required before recording. Mapping out the arrangements of your tunes can be an arduous process usually much more complicated than the live performance of the song. One guitar part becomes three, or five or ten, a basic drum part now includes percussion and electronic beats, two backing tracks can become twenty. Sometimes you feel as if your brain will certainly explode from the mapping out of all of the musical and vocal parts required to give your song a professionally recorded sound. But don’t get so lost in the charting and practicing of various parts and forget that time is of the essence here. It’s all well and good to tell those who inquire that you’re “in the studio” or “currently recording” but if a CD does not materialize in a reasonable amount of time both fans and industry will grow disinterested and move on to someone who has a finished product.
4.) If It Sounds Good, Make It Look Good---After the time and energy you’ve spent to make your CD sound amazing, don’t scribble on it with a blunt sharpie, throw it in a used envelope and expect a record label to be impressed with it. If your CD looks unprofessional, it will be dismissed as such and will probably spend its days unlistened to, lining the bottom of some A&R intern’s birdcage. Simple packaging is certainly acceptable but make sure your CD’s first impression a good one…your graphics are high quality, your text is neat, your paper stock is professional and all materials are unused. Even the most poorly recorded CD will get a listen, if it comes in a pretty package.
Now that you have a professional CD recorded, your possibilities are endless. Send it to anyone and everyone! Get your name out there! Make new fans! Grab some press! Get a record deal! Stand back and grin as your single goes screaming up the charts. Anything is possible if you have a good CD and can share your music with the world.
Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 700 affiliates to more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians’ assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she resides. For more info: http://www.sheena-metal.com.