Publisher's Note: Rokk Lattanzio is a member of the LinkedIn group "Music & Marketing." I found his words to be worthy of an independent artist's time.
Technology and affordable gear and computer software has changed the recording landscape for indie artists, it's made it possible for artists to buy basic recording gear, learn a little bit about the process, set up a "studio" in their bedroom, then produce and release independent CD's.
But just because it's possible that does not mean it's the smartest way to go, or best way to release your music... Remember, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
"Before you concern yourself with promotion and marketing, produce something worth marketing..."
Yes there are the rare artists who learn the skills quickly, [who] enjoy recording and producing quality product in a relatively short time frame. The Australian artist GOTYE, who currently has a number one single over here, is a prime example of an artist who wears all the hats very well.
But the overwhelming majority fail miserably and produce poor sounding, ill-conceived releases. They would be far better off using raw live recordings or YouTube videos as their calling card. Producing, mixing and mastering recordings involve challenging processes and skills with many factors effecting the end result.
All to often indie artist approach this in a counter productive way;
they go about it the wrong way round. Wasting time, effort and money on gear to make a self produced release when they would be far better off saving some money and enlisting the help of a good indie producer. And I don't mean superstar producer. You probably can't afford Mutt Lange but, believe it or not, even Mutt Lange started out working on small time projects.
Do some research. If there are local artists with indie releases that sound great find out who produced them. Ask those artists what the experience of working with that producer was. Don't get caught up in what studio or what equipment was used.
A good producer will sort all that, based on your budget. What you want to [ask] is did the producer bring out the best in them, help them get the best performance on the recording while contributing to the creative process?
If you can find an indie producer who is strong in these areas you've struck gold, and you have probably saved yourself years of frustration. And, if you pay attention, you will learn more about the recording process this way than by locking yourself in your bedroom and trolling the internet for reviews of budget recording gear and software.
Also, remember that a good recording engineer or good musician is not necessarily a good producer. There is no pre-requisite for being a music producer, many are wonderful arrangers or composers like Quincy Jones but many are not. It involves more than musical knowledge or technical ability.
A good producer needs a great ear, great instincts and must be a great people person as well. A great producer also feels and understands how the music will effect people on an emotional level, and when to stop producing and polishing - leaving just enough of the rough edges in the track to keep it real.
Before you concern yourself with promotion and marketing, produce something worth marketing... Luck, money and hype may shift a little crap for a short time but it takes quality and substance to have a real sustained sucess at any level.
If you can't find or can't afford the right indie producer for your project you are better off using raw live recordings or live YouTube videos as your calling card and saving some money while you search for the right person, or the right producer finds you.