Should you start recording or keep performing? This is an inevitable dilemma for any musician who wants to promote their music, but it shouldn’t be a hard one to figure out.
Thanks to the plummeting cost of recording technology, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to record and produce a demo of your music. The rise of social media platforms and online content has pressured many artists into thinking they need music available now. Before you book a studio session or rush off to craigslist to find discount microphones and a bootleg copy of ProTools, consider the following:
Why do you want to record your music?
Are you sending press kits to venues, trying to book shows? Are you sending demos to record companies? Have your fans been begging for recordings of their favorite songs after you rock a show? If you answered yes to any or all of the above, it might be time to think about recording.
Did you come up with your band name last week and finally finish writing your second song today? Don’t even think about recording—yet. It’s just not time. Your sound will inevitably change and, hopefully, improve as you continue honing your craft. Focus on developing and polishing your sound. Keep rehearsing, and take every opportunity to play in front of real people. Build your music portfolio and your fan base. When you have a cohesive, well-rehearsed set that you have played for cheering crowds, you can consider recording.
Can you make the time for recording?
Recording a song well (by yourself or in a professional studio) can take days to weeks depending on the circumstances. It’s a serious time commitment and requires patience and skill to produce something desirable. Can you take time off from work, rehearsal, gigs, and your personal life to get this done?
Who will do the work?
Whether you visit a studio or record your own music, recording can be a frustrating and creativity-killing process, especially if you’re inexperienced. Using a professional studio can reduce some of the stress, but it can also be a pricey investment. Are you willing to take on this task? If not, have you found a studio you can work with?
Keep quality in mind.
While it is important to give fans access to recorded music, do not record your songs on a whim under less-than-ideal circumstances just so you have something to put on your website, MySpace, or BandCamp page. Remember, a sloppy recording can hurt you just as much as a well-recorded demo can help you. If you can’t do it right, it’s probably better to wait until you can.
If, after considering these points, you’re ready to record, congratulations and good luck! If you need more time, don’t be discouraged; you’ll get there soon enough.
Have you made the transition from performing to recording? How did you know the timing was right? What advice do you have for artists considering recording their first album?