This is a guest post by Larry Mitchell. If you want to write for Independent Music Advice, you can find out how here (Link opens in new window).
You’re an up-and-coming band playing in your local area. You’ve been working hard, and you now have a growing base of fans coming out to your shows. Then the inevitable question comes: “When are you going to make a CD?”
It’s a very good sign when fans start wanting to take your music home with them, but it can also be scary to take the next step and actually produce a CD. It will take some work, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating, or excessively expensive. If you have a good repertoire of songs from which to choose already, part of the job is already done for you. To help you through the process, here are the basic steps you’ll need to take…
- Decide how large your project will be (i.e., full-length, EP or single).
Your budget plays a big role in this decision. If you are limited in funds, it might be in your better interest to record fewer tunes at first, and do them well. You don’t have to do a Nashville-level project, but the sound quality should be something you’re not ashamed to sell.
- Choose your songs.
Your short list should include your best-performed songs, not merely your favourite songs that play well for your fans, not just in your bedroom. Remember, you’re making this CD for them! Also, if you use cover songs, you’ll have to get licenses from the copyright owners.
- Choose a place to record.
A reputable recording studio is an obvious choice, but if the budget is tight and your connections are good, you might find some cheaper alternatives. Some bands have successfully recorded in their own basements, if a band mate has enough experience and equipment, for example. Whatever you decide, try not to sacrifice quality to cut costs. If you’re not absolutely sure you can do it right, pay the extra and go to the studio.
- Record your material.
Go into the studio well practised and prepared, especially if you’re paying by the hour.
- Mix and master the recording.
Have a skilled set of ears fine-tune the balance of instruments and vocals, prepare the record for duplication, and burn a master CD.
- Prepare the CD artwork.
Whether simple or elaborate, you want to have something eye-popping for both the CD and the packaging. Have this done if you can’t do it yourself.
- Send the master CD for packaging and replication.
There are lots of companies that do this, but Mixonic is one that does high quality CD production at a low cost, and can replicate both large and small orders based on your need. They can even help with the artwork design if you need it.
Creating a CD for your fans is the next big step in your evolution as a band. Following these steps will help ensure that you create the best product possible, helping to grow your reputation even more.