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Your First Album! (why not?)
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 

February 21, 2013 - 3:29 pm
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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For musicians, a common dream is to someday be on a CD album or something like that.  Most never get there, but it isn't because they couldn't have.  It isn't because they aren't good enough, either.  You keep working at it, and someday you will be "good enough", or at least as good as others who did it.

So let's throw out the notions of it being impossible or even farfetched.  It will really boil down to being a matter of if it is something you would like to do badly enough that you will actually do it and make it happen.

So why would you consider putting out an album of your playing?  Well, there could be a lot of reasons.  You might actually try marketing it, and if it was available on the market, you might make a bit of money in music that way.  You could use it as a way of introducing yourself and finding new gigs or jams.  It might be something for personal satisfaction, where you could look at it and think "I did that".  It could be something neat to give to friends and family.

On that last item, such things can be more important than you can know.  For example, my mother in law was a singer and musician.  In her earlier years, she sang and performed folk and traditional at Civil war re-enactments and such events, and in her later years, she sang and played gospel in church.  If she hadn't made recordings, then some of her grandchildren or great grandchildren might never hear her play or sing.  She never put the recordings together as an album herself, but after she died a thoughtful member of her church put together a little album of some of her best recordings with some nice pics and it made at least an excellent memorial item. 

But aside from all those serious reasons, I would present one more.  Having an ongoing project like an album (or even a single) that you want to put out can give you another reason to practice and to learn how to record your playing.  Besides, planning it out and getting together material and thinking of what you might use for cover art or put on liner notes can be fun as well.  

Some folks here may think that they aren't good enough.  Ok, maybe not right now, but surely you expect to be better say, a year from now?  It takes time to put a project like this together, so that can work.  Also, contrary to that you may think, you don't have to actually be able to play flawlessly to make good recordings.  Once you learn how to edit recordings, you can fix little mistakes and you really only have to have the patience it takes to work at each part until you can get it right once while the recorder is going.  The big record companies do a lot of that sort of work with performers you've paid money to buy albums by.  LOL

You will develop and your playing will get better during the process anyway, and even a recording that is a ways from perfect can make a good keepsake or demo to get you into a gig or jam you want.  Or maybe get passed around to people you don't know yet where you are just what they are looking for for their band, event or jam session.  Having an audition, gig or jam coming up can be  very powerful motivator to not skip practices.

So I'm starting this thread to try and get folks here thinking about the idea.  To daydream a little, and consider (even just for fun) what might go on an album starring.. YOU.


"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

Regular advisor

February 21, 2013 - 6:03 pm
Member Since: June 24, 2012
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Great topic. Sometimes I wish I would've thought about making an album when I was still playing trombone. Perhaps I shall give it a go when I improve a little bit more on the violin. And you have a good point about the editing part, in fact I wouldn't be surprised at all if 90%+ of the top artists have at least a few edits in their album recordings, seeing as they aren't playing something live.

Byron Bay Australia

February 21, 2013 - 6:48 pm
Member Since: April 22, 2012
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One of my aims in playing the violin is to, with my wife, 'busk' around Australia aussie_flag

Having a CD to sell as well. Not a bad idea thumbs-up

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

February 21, 2013 - 9:10 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
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Great topic, Daniel. It's not such a daydream kind of thing these days, given the technology available to all of us. We can post videos for the world to see on YouTube. We can make our own music CDs and DVDs to give to friends and family.

Nonetheless, if I were going to put together an album of me playing my best/favorite songs, I'd definitely have to give some thought to what those might be.

I'll be interested to see what others come up with, and will post my playlist after I've given it some thought.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.


February 21, 2013 - 10:07 pm
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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@AdverseD: Oh, they definitely do.  It is not unusual to do several takes, then pick the one that is best or pick and choose between which has the best part for here and there and make a final track that is a composite of the best sounding parts of two or more of the tracks.  That's just one example of a recording tactic for getting a good take of a song, and anybody here can learn to do that on their computer, even using freeware like Audacity.


@Ferret:  Now for something like a "busking tour" you could maybe get even more out of "having an album out" than a few CD sales.  If you do some research and contact some places along the way, you could send a copy as a demo along with some other promotional info and a contract and maybe get at least some small paid gigs along the way.  Do some networking ahead of time to get to know people in areas you want to busk and let them hear samples from "your album" and you might also get a few people turning out at places you busk just to meet you and say hi and catch your act.  It could make the trip even more fun.


@KindaScratchy:  I agree.  I honestly don't think it is far-fetched at all, these days.  And since you also play guitar and flute, you have even more options when it would come to filling a small album project or youtube channel with cool and interesting music.  You could do one or more track with each instrument solo, and then some with them in combinations, accompanying yourself. 



The main reason I brought it up here, in the recording section of the forum, is it can give motivation to learn how to record at home if you have a goal like "I'd like to put an album out."  The biggest hurdle is to decide you are going to do it.  After that, much like the FM group projects and other projects, it is just a matter of practising the material and getting it done.  Asking questions when you run into trouble with the tech aspects or whatever, etc. 


"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman


February 22, 2013 - 3:42 am
Member Since: January 19, 2013
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Great topic here Daniel, thanks a bunch!  This can be a great project for anyone to work on and it's a really great motivator.  The satisfaction of getting a great track cut down and edited/mastered isn't even describable at least to me :) .  Technology makes this all so much more attainable now that honestly as long as you have patience and are willing to put in the time you'll have a masterpiece.  Audacity can do an excellent job and if you have a Mac, well you're set with GarageBand.   I think down the road here a good Celtic album may be in store...  2 wooden fifes and a flute plus the violin (when progress is made lol).

Something to think about too, if you know a few local recording studios drop in for a visit, talk to one of the producers/engineers.  If they're anything like here they'll give ya some tips for making a track 'glow' even more, and as long as they're not busy with clients most of em will do it for free...  I know I would and several of my colleagues would as well :)  Here's to your first album cheers!!

Michigan, USA

February 22, 2013 - 4:13 am
Member Since: January 21, 2012
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Interesting topic, but, how many of us are ready after 6 month's or 1 year of playing are ready to cut a single CD let alone an album.

Although I did cut a record when I was about 5 year's old; a second cousin had a record making machine and I recorded one single song. The record was about the size of a 78 rpm maybe just a tad smaller. I never sold any. 

I dunno why.  dunno 

So, Dannyboy, you cut an album, I'll buy the first copy.  smile


February 22, 2013 - 7:15 am
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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(Coffee warning on this one.  Might just want to bring the whole pot over to the computer..)


@Fiddlestix:  Sorry Ken, you're either about 14 yrs too late, or 16 yrs, depending on how you want to figure it.  16 yrs ago, my band was one of several on a compilation album of "underground" bands in the region that was put out by a small indie record company.  No great fame or fortune from that (though it did get us some gigs and a little local media attention). Not a lot of money from that, compilations are more for promotion of working bands than money from sales.  But as I recall, there were about 800 copies sold through normal record stores.  I recorded and did the rough engineering on my own band's tracks, though it was sent out to a professional studio for final mix, mastering and post production.

Then about 14 yrs ago, I self produced a 4 song "mini-album".  That started as just my class project when I was taking digital studio in college.  But I happened to run into a promoter who wanted to hear it.  He said he knew what niche to angle the marketing at, and he'd take me on as a client for 12%.  Or for 20%, he'd do "heavy push" and get me "in the money".  Well.  Doing some fast calculation, I was making nothing with it at the time.  20% of nothings is.. Nothing!   So it sounded like a it was worth a try.  Sure enough, he got me some CD sales.  Nothing huge, but def a little bit to encourage and be a little proud of.  More importantly though, he got me listeners and some market and even got my music to "break" on a few offbeat charts.  I did get to making a bit of money.  So he'd been right that that % of nothing wouldn't be nothing for long.  He knew his business.

Then I got contacted by a lady in Italy who was a manager and wanted 12% to take me on as a client.  Well, it had worked once.  I couldn't imagine what an agent in another country could do for me when I don't travel and couldn't afford to travel, but what the heck.  What she could and did do was get my stuff played in clubs in other countries, and get me invites to come and participate in music festivals in Europe.  I couldn't really afford it, but it was sure fun getting the occasional invite.  And my promoter was able to use that sort of thing to get me some more listeners.  Depending on how you market, listeners and etc can be more money in royalties than you can make in actual CD sales.

I didn't get rich or famous,  I think I cleared maybe 2500 in my best year.  But it paid some bills, and it bought me a brand new computer back then and a new midi keyboard/controller and I got to have the pleasure of composing playing and recording on some gear bought with money from music I wrote and recorded from home.

So, sorry Ken.  You kinda missed the boat on my first albums, anyway.  LOL

And sorry for going a bit long-winded on my past exploits, but I thought it seemed you might have the impression that I was talking through my hat or perhaps I hadn't ever done this sort of thing myself before. 

Now on the 6-12 months part of your reply.  It depends on the person, how motivated they are, how talented, and how hard they work.  How much they are willing to learn.  I know that one of the bands on the compilation album I mentioned had a bass player who had only been playing about 4 months.  She did a very creditable job and was solid, a good player.  She was in her early 20s, had a job and was going to college full time.  And bear in mind, that 4 months had been 4 months with two or three 4 hr+ length band rehearsals a week and probably a good bit of practice on her own.  That's definitely a bit different than 15 min a day doing scales and Mary Had a little Lamb.  But my point would be "Not impossible."  As I recall from the bio and etc, it was her first time learning an instrument/music.

Anyway, after a couple of years, I fell out of the biz.  I was tired and there was stuff going on in my personal and home life that had to come ahead of my music and my own projects.  And for 10 yrs or so I sort of just drifted and felt like a bit of a has-been.   But then I got one of these silly little violin/fiddle things.. And getting to be a noob again, I started practising regular again and thinking on how the different instruments I play could work together in multi-track recordings and some new ideas for songs kicking around.  Since I've been buying instruments and working on songs again and dusting off my old recording gear and all, I reckon I may not quite be dead yet and may be fixing to take another swing at it.

Now, if everybody didn't fall asleep during the long-winded and (I feel) self serving recounting of some highlights of my "musical career", there's an important point to notice.  Being on a compilation album did some good for my band.  It got us a bit of attention and some gigs we wouldn't have gotten without it.  And if I hadn't just happened to have a small project recording "in the can" when I met someone who said he was a promoter and asked if I had anything he could hear.. That wouldn't have gone anywhere.

If you even daydream of music taking you beyond the walls of your bedroom/living-room/kitchen or wherever it is that you practice, you need at least a demo recording. 

Sorry to hear your first record didn't do so well, Ken.  But you have some years of experience on you now, and you definitely have some talent.. I really think you should at least consider maybe giving it one more try?


@FiddleDetroit: My experiences with the local studios in years gone by weren't so good.  That's why I decided to put money into gear and a bit of education on recording instead of more money into them.  In a small town, it may not be the best option for advice.  But these days, with the internet, it is possible now and then to hunt up the address of some engineers and producers, and some of them will reply to a polite emailed question.  Sometimes a few of them may even take a little time over a few days to "mentor" you a bit in some aspects of recording or the mix, if you can send them some samples of what you're doing so they can hear what you still need to learn.  Never know who might take a little time to help you out until you ask.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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