Before you take on the expense of recording a full-length album as an indie musician, you need to decide if you should even be doing it in the first place. Consider these questions:
-Where am I recording this, and how much money am I spending?
-Do I need to hire an engineer, a mixer, and a mastering studio?
-If I hire people, am I choosing the most talented people possible at the best prices possible?
-If I’m going to do this on my own without hiring anyone, am I experienced and talented enough to produce a professional recording?
-Am I sacrificing the quality of the final product by trying to skimp on money?
-What is the goal of this album?
-Will I give it away or am I hoping to sell it?
-If I want to sell it, how many can I realistically sell?
-Will I earn back the money I’m spending studio?
-Is the money I’m spending on an album going to make it impossible to fund touring, promotion, or other merchandising?
Depending on how you answer these questions, recording an album might not sound so appealing anymore.
In some cases, it just doesn’t make sense for an indie musician to record a full album. You might not have the finances, resources, or fan base to justify it. But don’t fret. The album is not the monolithic accomplishment of a musical career anymore. You don’t have to record an album.
Maybe you only have enough money record a single. Don’t bitch about not being able to go further, build a strategy around that instead. Sell the single (or give it away for exposure to support merchandise sales, touring, etc.) and raise enough money to record another single. Keep going until you’ve recorded 10 great songs. Then create something unique for fans to purchase. You’ll be making progress without a ton of debt and pressure. Or maybe you choose to record a 3-song or 5-song EP. Sell it at a great price, give it away, or bundle it for free with the purchase of a merchandise item. Put on your thinking cap!
On the other hand, let’s say you do have the money to record a full album, and your fan base is chomping at the bit to get it. What are you waiting for? Go record your album and let them have it!
You see, this post isn’t about slamming the album format. It’s about realizing that you have options. There is a never-ending list of ways to approach recording and releasing music if you get creative. It’s in this sense that the album is dead. So don’t limit yourself. What matters is exposing the world to your music.
Band 101 is run by Jimmy Brunetti. He has sold upwards of 2 million records independently, and has overseen marketing operations for several independent labels. Band 101 helps independent musicians learn the business and marketing fundamentals that are often overlooked by beginners.