Metal horns up everyone! I'm glad to put some thoughts down on the idea of Spending The Money. It took me a while to sit down to write this column, as frankly every time I came up with a decent topic, I found it already covered somewhere on this site. So thumbs up to Guitar9.com for keeping everyone informed with great columns, that just like anyone else, I really enjoy reading as well.
Ok, let's get to the point. Spend The Money is an easy concept that I think scares many guitarists and aspiring musicians. Through out my touring career with Halford and Testament I'm often handed CDs, CD-Rs, tapes, and you name it from musicians and guitarists letting the "word out" about their music, etc. One thing I notice immediately in 90% of the cases is the carelessness in the packaging and presenting of one's music. Often I get CDs with hand written band name on it or a CD with a cover containing cheap graphics that looks like it was done on a computer in less than 5 minutes. Immediately, no matter who gave the CD to me (unless it's a beautiful girl with two Coors Lights in her hand), I assume the music is of poor quality, for the simple idea that if the cake looks like a disaster, I'm not gonna taste it either.
I know many musicians who go through a process of thinking that goes something like this: I'll get a friend, a relative or anyone I know that could design a decent CD cover/ booklet. It's my first real CD, so what do they want? I just need to get this CD "out there". When I get "more money", I'll do it "right" the next time. My idea here is that you should try to do it "right" the first time. Point is this: there is no sense showcasing your product to anyone, such as a professional band you'd like to open for, a record label, or a consumer, with an amateur look to it. You will almost never get "more money" because you do not put yourself in the position of making more money. So in return, your CD sells poorly or not at all, the band never calls you back, and the record label executive used your CD to take out the nail stuck in his car's tire. In return you get discouraged, give up playing guitar all together, and finally take that job wrapping fish that your uncle has been bothering you about ever since you turned 16.
I understand the fear of musicians. The horrible war of thoughts of putting away a few hundred dollars in your pocket (finally!) vs. spending the extra bucks on a pro level product. I have fought this war many, many times myself, and can tell you that I never, ever regretted spending the extra money on getting The Job Done Right. This usually means hiring a professional in that field, which yes, costs more. I also believe that when you hand someone a CD that looks kick-ass you unintentionally hand it with a stronger confidence and presence that yields results. With a killer product you say or come off with an attitude such as, "Hey, this is my music. I believe in it so much that I went the extra mile and spend the necessary cash to make it look the best it can. The CD mastering you ask? I gave 10 more guitar lessons last month and spend the 300 bucks for a decent mastering job. This CD is important and after your band hears it, you'll know why you need to call me when you need a support act in this town."
Or, you could take the other route I see way too many times and say, "Hi. Let me get you my demo CD. I only have one left because my drummer supposed to make some more on his computer, but he didn't. Anyway, my band plays the same style you guys play as well. The art is just temporary. We didn't know what to put on the cover, so we put a skull with a lightning bolt from my drummer's clip art book. Oh, the contact phone number you can't read? I know, I know this pen smears on the CDs. Oh, hold on, let me get a piece of paper and write that one down for you. That way you can call me as soon as you get home. I know that I look like I don't give a damn about my music, but you should definitely call me. Can you wait?"
Well actually no, I'm going to drink those two cold Coors Lights and listen to that girl's CD.
To sum it up, the idea here is simple. If you expect people to spend their time and/or money on your music - Spend The Money. You don't have to, right off the bat, compete with a major label, but do the absolute best with the budget that you have. Try to go the extra mile. And, if your budget doesn't allow you to present your music properly, then borrow the money. Borrow it now and do this right. You can promise your investor 5% return as I promise you, your CD will make you money. You believe in your music, right? No? Well, then somebody's got to wrap that fish.
Metal Mike Chlasciak is most commonly known as the guitarist who helped Judas Priest's singer reclaim and hold statue as the True Metal God.
His latest solo CD, "Metal For Life", is an album full of incredible riffs, memorable songs and much needed attitude.
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