Do people still do this? Go in to a recording studio and “record a CD”? This is probably the single biggest waste of money and precious time by the limited-budget artist today. And almost everyone is a “limited-budget artist”. No one, for the most part, gives a shit about your CD: you did it because you didn’t have an original thought on what else to do.
For goodness sake, do something else: take the money and buy your way on to some tours or gigs, use it to promote something you’re creating/doing/selling/giving away in a meaningful way or, most importantly, write a great song. Then record that. And use all the money you saved not “recording a CD” to promote your great song.
Can’t write one? Find one. Collaborate. Hire someone. Forgo pleasure and vices and stay home refining your work until it brushes up against the greatness of the artists you mimicked when you started. Now there’s an unpopular concept: work for greatness. Realize the huge chasm between greatness and the mediocre and work the field next to greatness. Avoid the mediocre, the just “OK”…like the plague. It will age you beyond your years as you wallow in the self-defeating delusion of “progress”. And, for God’s sake, stop listening to your friends who tell you you’re awesome. That’s like standing in curing cement when you have to run a marathon.
So many musicians, younger and older, labor under the archaic notion that “I gotta record a CD”. And, why not? It makes everyone feel like they’re accomplishing something. That’s what we heard you’re supposed to do! After all, isn’t it swell to tell your friends that you’re “makin’ a new CD”? In fact someone…not exactly a young person, actually mentioned to me that I might be able to get their CD to “the powers that be”. That stopped me for a sec! I then replied: “you are the powers that be”. Any acute musician (as well as artists, realtors, app designers etc etc) realizes that, today, the self is the “power that be”. Of course, one must have realistic expectations- you’re not going out at 45 and decide to be a heavyweight boxer, much less actually become one. Apply common sense to everything (i.e. that same 45 year old is not gonna “get signed”). But you can define, market and monetize yourself. And not have to be reduced to lying prostrate in front of the record exec, signing the indentured-servitude contract, etc.
You hold the remote control to your movie provided you supply the batteries. This is a fantastic, albeit confused, time to make your own story. Revenue streams (“makin’ bank”) are outdated, confusing, still exploitative…..you name it. But that’s gonna change. Money will flow to artists, just differently from how the old school knew. It used to be the money came from one big thing. Try that one now! The money comes all manner of smaller revenue streams. Get used to it. No record deals. No label support (recoupable in full). No big album.
So, sure, some acts and genres and music fans embrace more than the single. You know who you are. There are exceptions- there may be an audience that has found you that wants to hear your version of Styx “The Grand Illusion”…but, odds are, you don’t have much of an audience, or you aren’t growing your audience and you can’t figure out how to break through the “wall of noise” that is our lives…all the bands, singers, game apps, TV….tsunamis of distractions that have reduced our attention spans to that that can hardly be measured.
A great song, however, can conquer all and give you a career.
Historically, great music has always prevailed. All you have to do is look at what has survived from your particular coming-of-age and what hasn’t. In my case, look at Mozart: still played every day. That’s a joke. In your case, maybe it’s how Guns and Roses has and Britny Fox hasn’t. You get the idea.
Anyway, stop reading and get to work.