Discussing my Other Career as a musician is not something I would usually do here at Savings Guide. A music career is many things but a wise personal finance decision it is not, so clearly it’s not something I brag about as a personal finance writer.
That said, my belief is that personal finance is all about finding money to do what you love, in a sustainable way that doesn’t damage your long-term financial outlook. I’m currently in the process of making my second record, and if your idea of making a record involves moving to the bush for a week, with few financial consequences, you would be dismayed by the state of my financial books. I thought I’d spend my Friday writing about what it takes to put together a record, financially and otherwise.
Saving For A Record
There are two options when making a record. Either you pay for it, or someone else does. If someone else does, it’s usually a record label (or an overly-ambitious parent). They ostensibly pay for it, but the cost of making it comes out of every sale. Put it this way. They put $10, 000 into a record. You then sell $10,001 worth of records. You’ll get a percentage of that one dollar, and no more.
If you pay for the record, then you get to keep 100% of the profits, but you also have to save up a bulk of the money before you start. Ever wondered why every waitress, sales attendant and bartender is a musician? Answer: the lack of readily available cash to make their music. You end up working in any job available in order to save for the many costs of making your record.
The Costs Of Making Your Record
The major cost in making a record is the studio costs. Some people make records in their bedrooms and occasionally they are brilliant. A lot of the time, however, a good record has quality because of the studio- both the equipment and the person behind the desk. If you’re making an expensive record, your might be looking at an engineer and a producer, but for most people, that person is one and the same.
For your record, the engineer could either quote you a per hour cost, a per song cost or a per job cost. The per hour cost can escalate pretty quickly out of control, depending on how much work you’ve already done, how long you want to spend on mixing and whether you’ve got musicians who can work quickly. Per song or per job costs can be better, as you can spend as long as you need on each song and work on it until its right. Generally, the cheapest end of the scale is about $40 per hour and upwards from there. Likewise, a per job amount can be about $10, 000 upwards, so you’re looking at a big investment.
Bringing In Musicians
Once you’ve got your engineer and studio, you need to work out how much you’re going to pay for musicians. Perhaps you’re a lucky creature, and can play drums, bass, guitars, keys and sing like a songbird. Or perhaps you need to hire people to do that, along with your dreams of a harpist, organ player and accordion maestro. You need to restrict how many musicians you would like, as- at around $500 per day award rates- your budget can blow out pretty quickly.
Mixing And Mastering
Once you’ve got all the tracks, you’re still a long way from finished. Perhaps your engineer will mix the record for you, as part of the job deal. Perhaps you’ll have to go somewhere else. Prepare yourself to invest, as mixing can take twice as long as recording. The best method is to include mixing costs in your engineer costs.
Mastering is an essential part of the recording process, making the tracks come together as a whole. Depending on the complexity of your mastering, the costs for mastering could be $1,000 upwards.
Now you’ve got your record, you might want to show some people. Pressing the record will becomes cheaper the greater the number of records you are looking for. Generally, if you’re pressing a thousand, you’d be looking at around $1.60 each, or another $1,600.
And Where That Leaves You…
With a record! Right now, we’re three months in and we’ve recorded drums, guitars, vocals and keys. We’ve got so many months of takes, coffee breaks and mixes in front of us, but at the end you have a record you can be proud of.