Budget is NOT a Bad Word
“The more you know, the less likely you are to be ripped off”
Picture yourself at a concert, dancing and singing along with your favorite artist. Look at that awesome stage! Look at those lights! Check out those dancers! WOOOOHOOO!!!! Yeah baby – that’s where you want to be someday, right? Well, how much do you think it costs to put on a production like that? (Uh oh, is your balloon deflating now?) Huge concerts are not cheap to produce, hence the high ticket prices. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. You’re just starting out in the music industry, so you don’t have to worry about semi trucks full of gear, a production staff of 300 and costuming costs. Let’s concentrate on what YOUR budget needs are as a new artist.
Being aware of the costs associated with recording, websites, touring and a support team is one of the first steps in establishing yourself as an artist and NOT a hobbyist. I know it’s a lot more fun to talk about performing and songwriting, but the reality of the business is this: nothing is for free and everyone is willing to take your money. It’s up to you to be smart and know what you SHOULD spend money on, and how much is correct. I have spoken to artists who have gone into the studio with no set budget, then ended up spending close to $20,000 on three tracks, leaving them no money to promote their single to radio, or to publicize their music. They now have three killer tunes that only their family will hear.
Let’s start mapping out your budgetary needs. First of all, I would highly recommend setting up a spreadsheet to outline your costs. It is very helpful to see where your money is going. (As a side note: SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS!!!!) You need to figure out how much money you have to work with. You have been working hard, and perhaps even found a windfall of cash, so now you have a budget of about $30,000. Where is that money going to go? Are you in a band? If so, you will have to discuss financial responsibilities for everyone in the band. Are the costs being split evenly? Are you paying yourselves while you are in the studio? Are you hiring any side musicians to augment your tracks? These are all budget entries. Are you a solo artist? If so, you are going to have to hire musicians to play on your tracks.
Ask around, check out various musicians and ask what their rates are. Now you have an entry on your budget for musician fees. The musicians and their fees are in place, which means you can enter the studio to lay down the tracks. Decide on how many songs you are going to record and be sure to have the songs fully written before you begin recording, as you don’t want to waste precious studio time and money writing songs. Before moving forward – do some homework! You don’t need to record your tracks at the biggest and most expensive studio in town. You can use a cheaper studio, and then master your tracks at someplace more prestigious. However, you need to know what this will cost you BEFORE you begin the recording process. Go on line, or spend a couple of days visiting studios. Look at their gear, talk to the producers and engineers (you will have to account for their fees in your recording budget as well) and talk to other artists who have recorded at each studio to see how happy they were with the procedure.
Once you have decided where you are going to record, you will have budget entries for studio time, producer fees, engineer fees, and miscellaneous expenses (cds, equipment rental, food, etc). Make sure you know exactly how much money you want to spend and be sure to stay as close to that amount as possible. It is inevitable you will run over budget, so be sure to pad it a bit.
Look ahead to what will happen once the recording process is completed. What are you going to do with the killer tracks you have just recorded? If you want your tracks on the radio, be sure to research radio trackers (also known as pluggers or radio promotion people). Again, it’s homework time. Check out their websites, talk to their former clients and ask about rates. This will be another budget entry: radio promotion. You also want to think about hiring a publicist. Same homework rules apply and yes, it’s another budget entry!! Other costs to think about include: website, photos, biography (this may be included in the cost for a publicist), electronic press kits (commonly referred to as EPK), and manufacturing costs.
Is your head spinning now? It can sound somewhat overwhelming. However, if you know the costs before you embark on a project, it will make your life a lot easier. Knowledge is power!!!! The more you know, the less likely you are to be ripped off. Be realistic in your budgets and don’t spend all your money on recording! I’ve seen way too many people blow their budget on studio time. If you want to fulfill your dream of becoming an international singing sensation, then be smart from day one and BUDGET!!! See, it’s not such a bad word!!!