I have my ten songs.
I have begun to research the costs of recording an album.
I am feeling more and more worried that I cannot take the professional, full-on studio route.
1. There's the Kickstarter campaign. If I actually raise the amount I'm asking for, Kickstarter gets 20% and the IRS gets whatever they can squeeze out of me. Plus I have to factor in the cost of all the premiums I'm supposed to offer as part of the fundraising campaign. So I'm really asking people to help me pay for all the detritus around the fundraising effort as well as the music -- which feels a little wrong (or at least contrived) to me.
2. Then there's actually making the album. This breaks down into several parts:
a. Producer: who knows what a producer will charge? but I assume all the requisite handholding will not come free or even cheap.
b. Backup musicians: because I can't play everything. Backup musicians who don't suck cost money, and I may have to pay for rehearsal time as well as recording time.
c. Recording: This is the only thing I've got a solid price for. Studio time will cost me around $35 an hour and there's no day rate. Figure a couple thousand bucks minimum because I'll be working with a producer who will insist on laying down tracks -- which takes more time.
d. Mastering: what comes after recording. Figure several hundred to a thousand bucks more.
e. Duplication, printing and manufacturing the actual CD: Crap. I can't even go there right now in my thinking.
If I am even able to record an album in a real studio, it is going to be, as my Sweetie likes to say occasionally, scheissteuer -- shit-expensive. And while I don't have hard figures, I can guesstimate that doing it the professional, traditional way will equal or exceed half of my 2012 take-home pay.
If you're still with me, you've realized that I don't operate in the same universe as anyone who can actually afford to do this sort of thing. And now that my employment past May 2013 is so uncertain, I don't know if i can do it this way at all.
The more I consider all the pieces of this puzzle, the more I think I can't do it. And short of standing in he street with a signboard and begging for money and help, I don't really know how I can do this AND still hold down a job that pays enough to keep us housed and fed.
It all comes back to three things:
1. I don't know if my music is good enough to consider this path. I am operating in a vacuum and have no one else locally to compare myself to; nor do I have a true mentor who can help me navigate the landscape of the Jewish music scene. That's what I get for living in Portland, I suppose.
2. Not knowing if my music is worth the trouble raises all sorts of questions in my thinking, all kinds of doubt. Right now, this feels like a real stumbling block. Tonight I am having a real lack of confidence in what I can do, and worse, confidence in its usefulness to the larger Jewish community.
3. I operate at an economic level that is so close to the ground when compared to the other Jews I know, and especially when compared to the other working Jewish musicians I know. When I seek advice from people in the Jewish music scene, their answers reflect the gap that exists between my standard of living and theirs. If I were to tell any of them how little we live on, they wouldn't believe me. And since Jews don't know how to talk about economic disparity or poverty unless it applies to Someone Else -- meaning non-Jews, because they're more likely to struggle economically than most North American Jews are -- then the unreality of this situation becomes even more glaring, and more discouraging.
I am thinking more and more that Mister Outta Town is right -- making an album the professional way in a real studio will cost well into five figures. Is my music good enough to warrant that kind of money up front? And if it isn't, can I handle knowing that in such bald terms? And how on earth can I afford to pay someone to teach and guide me through such a process? More and more it feels like I simply cannot.
Bruce Springsteen made his album Nebraska on a TEAC four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder at home; then took it to a studio for mastering. The album was an artistic and commercial success -- and remains one of my favorite Springsteen albums ever. Perhaps I need to go back and listen to it again and think about taking a really stripped-down approach. A local album, made locally and with the best sound equipment possible, with me playing the handful of instruments I know how to play and just doing it all small and local. I'd still have to find a producer, I suppose; I don't know enough to do all this myself without help and guidance. But I think I need to step away from the idea of something big and glitzy, because the fact is that I probably cannot ever afford to go down that path. And if my album doesn't fit the Jewish Music Scene Status Quo, well, then it won't fit and there's nothing I can do about that.
Tonight I feel angry and defiant and sad and scared and frustrated all at once. And I don't know what to do. I know I need help, lots of it. But I don't know where to turn.