Music Business Entrepreneurship
Christmas in November
Long time no see. The record got put off for a bit to make way for a more immediate project. Five Star Guitars in Hillsboro (www.fivestarguitars.com) released a Christmas CD last year with tracks from all the employees. Well, since Nick and I are now in the recording business, they approached Nick about recording some of the tracks. Since Nick wants to engineer and produce for a living, he jumped at the opportunity. We're friends with everyone there (I worked there in high school), so it was exciting. Over the last month or so we fit four songs into our spare time, which are Silent Night, Jingle Bell Rock, Run Run Rudolph, and an original track by owner Ken Potter named Christmas in Wahoo. We're sending it all off for mastering tomorrow.
We have the artwork done (I'll post it once I figure out how), so we just have to get a domain and stick it in the liner notes and on the back. If i can figure out how I'll post a couple songs up here in mp3 format. But the CD is for charity (Doernbecker's I believe), so it's a worthwhile buy.
A bit of progress
Sorry about the lack of posts (for those interested). School and work take up an awful lot of time. Nick and I sat down and made up a schedule so that we were sure to make at least a couple hours of progress each week. It's very difficult to start something, even a small something, when there are so many other commitments. Anyways, yesterday we were fed up of trying to get our artwork scans to fit into an Illustrator layout without using Photoshop (which is nearly impossible). So we ran to Kinko's and spent a frantic hour and a half resizing, cropping, and formatting until we finally got it together. Kinko's is brilliant. I imagine many entrepreneurs low on resources and time opt for the Kinko's route. I sure will in the future. I'll post the scans as soon as possible, as well as a couple promo shots we did.
No more story-time
Well, I thought telling this story would eat up some time and make it seem like we were actually DOING something. But I'm sick of telling this story. You get the idea anyways. I'll just catch you up in a few sentences.
We took some publicity photos with a woman Nick works with. She's a wonderful photographer and made us look much better than we actually do. Which I am forever greatful for. Once Nick finished the artwork we got them professionally scanned. We had to--they were about a foot and a half in each dimension. So now we've got the scans on his computer and I can't for the life of me figure out how to crop them in Adobe Illustrator. If anyone out there knows this program and could help me out I will give them forty dollars. Well, I won't, but what's better than gratitude? Right, nothing.
So here we are--record finished, artwork scanned--and now we're hung up on that stupid technicality. Hopefully it'll resolve itself.
Mastering, or something like it.
So it was January 2004 and we had finally finished the record after months of work. We were kinda dragging our feet at that point, so we just went ahead and made the appointment to master at Superdigital in NW Portland, not really knowing what the hell it entailed. We just knew it had to be done. Turns out its a bunch of things. One part is balancing the sound of each track so that they're all about the same volume at their loudest. Another is tweaking the equalization (highs, lows, mids) to sound ideal. This is the point where you mess with fade-outs, tracks that fade into each other, and the exact point where the cd player will start playing when you flip to the track.
The engineer just opens up the files and you see the entire record on the computer screen in ugly, jagged sound waves. Its very strange to think it all boils down to that. All the months of work you put into a record and its just a buncha lines on a screen.
The rest of the winter and spring were crammed with work and school, so we didn't get a whole lot done. Nick did some watercolor paintings for the artwork, which he describes as "shitty, but in an artsy way." We really didn't have the resources for professional graphics design, plus we're going to be appealing to indie rock kids who revile unabashed professionalism, so we thought this angle was the most practical.
Nick and I decided on the company DiscMakers (www.discmakers.com
) for the record's duplication. The CD digipaks (you know, the cardboard packs that fold open) seemed to stand out the most, especially for a very tactile style of artwork, and they run about $1800 for 1000 records. It's a lot of money to throw down without much capital, but if we sell them for $10 a pop, which is cheaper than most places, we're making $8.20 net on every record sold. Which ain't too bad, provided we can actually SELL them.
A little history...
Here's a bit of what's happened so far. Last summer my partner in the venture, Nick, purchased some recording equipment for about $3000. He had messed around with recording in the past and his career interest is sound engineering, so it only made sense for him to invest a bit of money. Also, we will get plenty of use out of the equipment over the next few years. If we were to record in a commercial studio it would cost us at least a few hundred dollars, which we would shell out every time we had to get an idea onto tape. Owning our own equipment also gave us the freedom to record whenever we wanted to and take as much time as needed without a running tab.
Anyway, we demo'd (demoed didn't look right) some songs we had been kicking around and gave them to a drummer friend we knew. After a few practices we laid sown all of the drum tracks of the record in one afternoon. It felt great to get the process started, but there was a lot of work ahead of us.
Nick and I spent the remainder of the summer and most of the fall laying down guitar, bass and vocal tracks in the few spare hours we had each week between work and school. Normally it wouldn't take nearly as long (maybe 3 or 4 weeks), but we had a ton of other obligations. When we finally got everything recorded, it took another month or so to get everything mixed right. Having never done that, we realized it was an art in itself. Placing each of twenty or so tracks within a stereo image to sound appealing to the listener is quite a task and requires as much creativity as actually writing the songs.
Sorry for the long post. Next time I'll talk about the mastering of the record and the preparation for duplication.
I guess I'll start with a short introduction. My name is Timothy Murphy and I'm a junior at Pacific University. I'm a business major, but music is my passion. The object of this blog deal is to log my process as I press and release my first record (from an business perspective of course). My friend/musical collaborator and I have and will be doing all the business of this record ourselves, so it will be quite a taste of entrepreneurship. Though I have to make this post a bit short (homework calls), I'll update this thang over the next couple days to go over the history of the project and what the plan is for its future. So... check back soon!