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So My Band Is Making A CD...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BassGod, Jun 30, 2004.


  1. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    This summer my band will be making its first CD (no more demo cassettes for us!) and we'll probably use it to show to club owners in an attempt to get gigs, and to sell around to our friends. Hey, if it turns out well, we may even show a few labels. :cool: But we are wondering how many songs we should put on this type of demo CD. I suggested 12, my guitarist says 8, and my drummer said that 3-4 should be enough. Could anyone who is/has been in this situation help me out? Thanks. And to send a CD to a record label, do you need to have a lawyer or manager? That part has always confused me... :help: :confused:

    Peace,
    Graeme :bassist:

    Edit: we're doing the CD for free by the way! :hyper:
     
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    For getting gigs or radio airplay, 3-4 songs is plenty, so why waste your money on extra studio time.

    The cost of manufacturing a CD is the same if it's 5 minutes long or 80, but the cost to RECORD it is proportional to the amount of time spent in the studio. Whatever my budget is, I can do MORE with 4 songs for that money than 12 songs (i.e. spend more time per song to get it right).

    So once you decide on a budget, price out studios and see how many hours you can afford and that dictates how many songs to record.

    A good rule of thumb for a typical 3-5 minute song demo is 1 hour to track, 1 hour to do overdubs, 1 hour to mix. So that means 3 hours of studio time per song.

    So if the studio costs $50 an hour that means $600 to do four songs, $1800 to do 12.
     
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    hmmm. A little more info is in order, I think.

    What kind of playing have you guys been doing - local bar type venues, local show type venues, opening for touring acts, touring regional venues, just got back from touring Japan, what?

    But, given the info that's here, it all depends.

    If you have unlimited free recording and mixing/mastering time, it would make sense to me to record as much material as you possibly can. If you have 15 tunes in the can, you can put out a full length CD (like to sell at gigs) AND a short demo CD that has 3 of your "best" songs on it (or whatever). If you only record your 3 songs, you don't have the flexibility.

    Record companies don't care how your CD sounds, they only care how many copies they think they can sell. If you are at the point that you are still looking for gigs, you may not have built enough of an audience to interets them. A band they says "here's our great sounding CD" is not as interesting (to a record label) as a band that says "here's our great sounding CD, of which we managed to sell 3000 units in six months touring the secondary club circuit of greater Moosecatchewan and on our website, which generated 120,000 hits and another 6000 downloads."

    LAWYER - you need one when you get to the point that you are signing legal documents
    MANAGER - you need to pay one when you don't have anyone else in the band to handle the managerial duties (which do not really include booking)
    AGENT - you can use one of these at pretty much any point. A good agent will have contacts that exceed yours. You pay more money to be "non-exclusive" and you may want to start out that way, especially if somebody in the band has been doing a pretty good job of booking within a certain area. But an agent will be able to get you into clubs you haven't been able to get into (because he can promise a better known act to the club owner, for example), get you on bills that you haven't been able to get on (because he books another more popular act) etc. Basically use his leverage to start building your audience base and marketability.

    Now what you haven't really said - are you doing originals or covers? If you are doing originals, you'll want to talk to somebody in SESAC, BMI or ASCAP about publishing and talk to somebody about copyright. If you are doing covers, you need to research the term MECHANICAL ROYALTIES. Basically, you are going to pay a fee per song per CD produced.
     
  4. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Thanks Ed, that was some great advice :)...for some more information, we play local show type venues. And for your other question, we play all originals, so there would be no covers on the CD. And I was wondering, how does one contact an agent? Thanks for the help. :) Oh, and what are over-dubs? (sorry, new to this)

    Peace,
    Graeme :bassist:
     
  5. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Go into their ready to record. Time = money. Don't mess around too much. Make sure everyone is solid with the songs and can play them as mistake free as possible. My advice, have a practice in the garage before going into the studio. Get tight together that day before the tape starts rolling.

    Good luck.
     
  6. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Thanks Matt. :) And don't worry, we practice constantly. We use a metronome to stay on time and at the right speed. I think we will be ready... I've been told that studio work is tedious and boring, but I am up to it (I hope ;))

    Peace,
    Graeme :bassist:
     
  7. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    People, the time = money thing sure is sterling advice, but aside from Ed most of you missed the part where he talks about it being "free".


    I second the "get as much as you can get recorded" notion. I think it's also a good idea if the band has in mind what they want the cd to sound like before going in. good luck!
     
  8. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    Ed said: “If you are doing originals, you'll want to talk to somebody in SESAC, BMI or ASCAP about publishing...”

    IMO, the above statement needs a little clarification. SESAC, BMI, and ASCAP are known as performance rights societies (PROs). They collect income in connection with the performance of musical compositions (as opposed to the sound recording). For example, when a Lennon/McCartney song plays on the radio, Lennon and McCartney get paid as songwriters, but the Beatles as a band receive no royalties from that airplay. Whichever PRO Lennon and McCartney belong to will collect on their behalf. However, if that same song was embodied on a CD that was sold, then a mechanical royalty would be due Lennon and McCartney as songwriters, but not the Beatles as a band and the mechanical royalty would be collected by the respective publishers for Lennon and McCartney and not a PRO. Most people in the business would not refer to a PRO as a publisher. Therefore, I don't think you really want to talk to a PRO about your publishing. You want to talk to a publisher such as Warner/Chappell. That said, I think Ed offers some good advice
     
  9. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    Oh... I thought he said he was going to give his CD away for free, I didn't know it was about the studio time.


    Beans! Record all the songs you want!
     
  10. SlavaF

    SlavaF

    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB
    My band has been recording recently, and we're just mixing our 6 recorded songs right now. I can tell you that it's a long and difficult process to get things to sound good. It's always good to record as much "live" as possible (live = the band plays all together in the studio. overdubs = each bandmember separately fixes up their parts, if there are any mistakes). Also, be sure to budget your time. Don't screw around in the studio, make sure you're always ready to work. My bandmates decided to screw around on a keyboard when we were recording, which must have killed at least 3 good hours of time. :rolleyes: But you guys are lucky you're not paying for recording! We are, although we got a KILLER deal... almost free.

    If you want to "show a few labels" your stuff, make sure to polish it up as much as you can. Take out all the little hand noises, fret noises and all other extra noise (if possible). It's much more enjoyable to listen to a song cleanly played and produced than one that has noises everywhere.

    About the # of songs, Ed had a great idea. Record a full length CD for selling, and a 4 song demo with your BEST (most marketable) songs to get gigs and to show to labels. I'm pretty sure you're not going to get a label/club owner to listen to 12 songs from a band they've never heard of. Your friends are a different story, of course.

    Best of luck!
     
  11. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Hey, thanks Slava, good advice! :) Well, we've decided that we will do two CD's, a full length and a demo. Since this is free, we're going to have overdubs, rather than doing it ''live''. We are pretty focused, and not the type to screw around when it's time to work. I've told my guitarist we need to get the simple stuff out of the way before we go into the studio (tuning, etc.) so we don't waste too much time. Thanks for the help everyone, I appreciate it. :) I just have a few more questions...

    1. (this isn't really important) How does one do cover art (for cheap)? Could I just use Microsoft Paint or something, or are there actual professionals who can do it for me?

    2. (a little more important) I read this in an old guitar book of mine...

    Estimating your studio time:

    Direct to two-track -- no overdubs
    ~3 hours to get the basic sound and mix
    ~1 hour per song

    Multitrack (16 channels) -- no overdubs
    ~2 hours for basic setup
    ~1 hour per song
    ~2 hours per mix

    Multitrack (24 channels) -- with overdubs
    ~2 hours for basic setup
    ~4 hours per song
    ~4 hours per mix

    Alright, as you know by now, I'm very new to this. So I gotta ask, what does all this mean? What do 16 and 24 channels mean? What are basic setups and mixes? And what would be the best choice of these three options for someone's first CD, like this one? Thanks for all of your help guys. :) :bassist:

    Peace,
    Graeme :bassist:
     
  12. SlavaF

    SlavaF

    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB
    1. I went to www.downloads.com, searched for "CD cover" or something like that, and found "Acoustica CD Label Maker". It's a shareware - you get to print stuff for 7 days after you download it, then printing is disabled - but it's got some neat features, and is truly idiot-proof! Trust me, you DON'T want to use Paint! :D

    2. Definitions

    channels - the number of different tracks you have. For example, if your drummer needs... 7 tracks for all his drums, you will probably use 1, your guitarist may use 2 for layering, and you might need 2 for lead and backup vocals. That means you've used 12 channels (although you may put more than one track onto one channel, but I wouldn't recommend this... a track per channel lets you adjust the volume and sound of each track separately). PS You'll probably be recording live, and then overdubbing... it's a lot harder for each band member to go in, record their parts and layer it over the master, playing live allows you to give each other signals, and makes tempo changes A LOT easier to play over, not to mention watching your drummer!

    "Direct to 2 track" - this means that all of you play together and hope you don't make any mistakes! This was done before multi-tracking came along, and it was a bit faster than fine tuning everything, but this is pretty ancient and I've never heard of any bands doing this recently.

    Basic setup - I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure this means getting all your instruments plugged in and sound checked, including however many drum checks for the drummer! This can take a while, hence the 2 hours.

    Mix - the volume level of each track in the song. I can't really describe it much better than that. In a mix, you have all your tracks, and you want to make each level balanced, so guitar doesn't overpower bass, for example.

    My band recorded to 16 tracks, that was plenty for now. We did need overdubs, however, and sometimes we overdubbed the entire song, just to keep the energy going and to avoid killing the song's momentum. We did this to a whole new track, leaving our old track just in case.

    It also depends on what the studio has, but I doubt you guys will be needing any more than 16 channels, unless you have a horn section in your band or something. :D
     
  13. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Hey, thanks for all of the definitions and advice... I'm no longer studio-illiterate! :D And thanks to everyone else who responded, it is much appreciated! :)

    Peace,
    Graeme :bassist: