So for all of those musicians out there who think that they have to do it all (like me), it's not only easier in the long run to get as much help as you can, you may end up with way better results than if you were to do it all alone. Decide on what your strengths are and try and get help on the areas where you know you are weak. I’m guessing that this may be more of an issue with men simply because they have a harder time asking for help but I’ve found women who fit into this category too. Remember that I’m speaking here from years of experience trying to do it all myself. It’s simply more efficient, more satisfying and cheaper (in terms of time and money) to get others involved in whatever you may be working on.
You also end up making some valuable connections along the way. Not only there is the possibility that someone you know may have other valuable connections that you can use but as far as exchange of ideas and knowledge, there’s no better way to get the inside track on what’s happening. If you have a lack of funds like most musicians, remember the tried and true barter system. Whenever I’ve gotten somebody to work on my material I always made sure that there was something in it for them even when they were just happy to take part. This included credits on the CD, a copy of the finished product, and recommendations to other clients and contacts.
So for example all the songwriters out there, you don’t need to do it all. Find some players to play on your demo. Find someone in your area who’s good in the studio as far as recording and mixing. Having this step alone will save you years. Barter the time that they spend on your demo with singing on their demos. Everybody needs a great singer. If you want to learn to do it all, take it one step at a time. Focus on the songwriting first, get your demo done and learn the skills along the way. I know people who had a hard time getting the exact results they wanted so they decided that they were going to do it all themselves. Most of the work never got done because the learning curve on all of the different skills needed to put together a great CD was just too much. It may be some work trying to find the right people get the sound you hear in your head to tape it but in the end you may save yourself a lot of work and time.
Sometimes You Just Have To...
I’ve had tons of singer come through my studio and sing my songs. Sometimes the results where great but a lot of times they weren’t: it’s all part of the process. A few times I had a song and just couldn’t get the singer to get the sound right. Sometimes you have to just make the best of it. Sometimes it’s more important to get it done than to wait for that perfect performance. It all depends on you and the song but the point is that you want to get it done the best you can within a reasonable amount of time. If you have more time and a bigger budget then you can take advantage and get the premium players. If you don’t have all of the resources at your fingertips, get it done anyway and don’t make any excuses. No matter what the situation, first demo or major label release, some concessions are always going to be have to be made. While some of you may argue with this point, I think that it’s better to get it done and out there than to let it sit on a shelf forever because it didn’t live up to your expectations at the time.
If you're not sure it's always a good idea to get an opinion from somebody that you trust and isn't a fan or a family member. It may be hard to hear the truth sometimes but it's an essential part of the process. Try to find somebody who knows what they're talking about. This doesn't have to be a musician, just a person with great ears. One of the best critiques I got was from an industry professional who didn't play an instrument at all. She told me what was wrong with my song and after listening, I realized that everything she said was right. It was at an industry listening session and after hearing the song, a lot of people commented that they really liked the song and didn't agree with what she said. After listening to the song with fresh ears, I knew that she was right. Take criticism with a grain of salt, try to listen with a fresh perspective and see if what was said applies. Even with people who know what they're talking about, music is an opinion and nobody is right 100% of the time. This step alone is worth the effort. It's this type of thinking that will differential you from the pack. So many people are just happy to get something out that they think that every note is necessary and perfect. If you get the same critique from a couple of different source though, take note! People with great ears may be just as hard to find as a good player but very valuable.
Within A Reasonable Amount Of Time
Keep in mind that I talking about making the best effort you can in making it as good as you can at this point in time. This isn’t an excuse to be lazy, simply make sure that you make the best of what you’ve got. This mostly applies to all of those people out there who take forever to get a project done and even then they're not happy with the results. I've been through this a million times and I've seen it in other musicians as well. Tweaking something to death while trying to do it all is counterproductive. I've also met bands who worked on their CD for the better part of a year and the results reflected all of their hard work. Mostly though I've seen a lot of time wasted on working on material that never sees the light of day being bogged down by people try to do it all. It’s also good to get into the habit of working with somebody as soon as you can because odds are it’s going to come up a lot. If you're a bit of a perfectionist and you know somebody who's eager to get things out there, try to work together. A lot of time their eagerness to get it done will rub off on the perfectionist 'it's not quite perfect yet' and the perfectionist's eye for 'quality and detail' will rub off on the eager beaver's 'just rush through it' attitude. I'm being really general here but you get the idea. Whatever you do, get out there and make those connections. In the end, you will save time and effort over trying to do it all yourself and it may lead to some great partnerships and ultimately some great music.