We ask ourselves all the time: should I put out lots of new stuff, or just wait to make a great recording? What’s better? Quantity or quality?
I deal with new artists every day. It’s really a blessing for me, because I feel like I can help people at the ground floor of their career and hopefully steer them in the right direction before they make a heap of mistakes. Sometimes they’ve already made the mistakes, and I can help fix them. Sometimes the mistakes are unfixable. You never know. One of the common themes I notice among new artists is a yearning to put out lots of new material, and I wanted to discuss this in this blog to maybe help a few more people out, or at least give you some things to think about before you go into the studio to record again.
Now don’t get me wrong, you need to be putting out new music constantly (or as often as you can). It’s like a conversation with your fans. If you’re not saying anything, people aren’t going to listen. New music is your artistic offering to the conversation you’re having with them, and the more you put out the richer the conversation – but what’s more important? Putting out as much music as you can to keep that going (and maybe let the quality suffer a little), or should you wait a little longer and just put out one (or a few songs) that’s slamming?
In short – NEVER EVER EVER EVER SACRIFICE QUALITY.
Now you can stop reading there if you want, but let me explain why.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it had better be damn good.
Why does it matter? In short, the interwebs. Once something is online, you might as well assume it’s out there forever. The second you put your music out into the world it can be heard by ANYONE, at any time. Now, that may sound great but what happens when they click to the next artist on Spotify they see that’s like you and it sounds WAY better? You sound local. You sound like you’re not any good. You sound…amateur. Ugh. You’re not going to make many new fans that way.
You might be a great artist and an amazing songwriter. But if your art is presented in a way that’s sub-par you lose potential fans every time your music is compared to the big artists. And you will be, every day, and every second your music is out there. You’re better off with ONE song that screams PRO than 10 songs that eek of “local band” quality.
“But I don’t have the money.”
Yes, you do!! Anyone can do anything they want to. Maybe you don’t have it now. But saving for a few months could mean the difference between you putting out a single that’s mind-blowing and the best thing you’ve ever done vs. releasing an EP or album that’s crappy quality. If you’re going to survive in TODAY’S music industry, you can’t have a defeatist attitude. You’ve got to be a hard-headed CAN DO person, who will stop at nothing to get their way. I know people who have found investors, saved for months, put their recordings on a credit card – WHATEVER. I played cover shows with my band, and every dollar we made went to recording for over a year. It worked. Once a month, we would record a new song or two, whatever we had enough money for. Do what it takes, and come up with a plan of action that works best for you, and get the BEST you can get. And furthermore…
You get what you pay for.
One of the favorite lessons I can remember my Dad teaching me was about “the cost of free.” Sure, your buddy may play drums, or own a studio. Maybe you’ve got friends that can cover all of those bases. But what does it REALLY cost? Most likely, it will mean that you’re not getting the best quality musicians, engineers, and producers on your record. And you can’t afford that.
Paying people demands a level of respect you’re not going to get with your buddies. Even if your buddy is a producer, he’s very likely going to prioritize his other clients over you. Every time. Money talks, people! So, you get put on the back burner. And you can’t afford that. Your music is IMPORTANT, and demands the same level of attention everyone else gets.
Besides that, “hiring” your friends makes it even harder to get what you want, musically speaking when you have to be the “bad guy.” What if you don’t like what they’re playing? It gets kinda weird, you know? You don’t want to tell your bud, ‘cause he did this for free, and you say to yourself…”it’ll be fine.” UGH. NO. It will NOT be fine. It will be worse. It won’t be as good as it can be. And you can’t afford to do that!!
Great producers, engineers, studios, and musicians are WORTH the money. They make sure that your precious record isn’t mis-handled. They ensure that it’s done right. They bring years of experience (of making plenty of mistakes already) and know the best course of action for your project. And you need that advice. Your music deserves it.
It’s now up to YOU, Dear Artist, to compete with the big boys and girls. It’s up to YOU to find producers and writers that will help you craft your sound and fine tune your recording until it sounds like it belongs on the radio – just like all the big names. So take your time, research all your favorite artists and find their producers, mixers, and musicians – and save your money. Be patient. It’s worth it, trust me.
Josh Goode is a Dallas music producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and Tex-mex is his muse.