10 Money-Saving Tips for Musicians: Create Music Without Breaking the Bank

10 Money-Saving Tips for Musicians: Create Music Without Breaking the Bank 

1. Work from a home studio.
Snapshot of my home studio.
You can literally save thousands by investing in a basic home studio. You can start with just a quiet room (or a room padded with rugs to insulate), a computer, and some basic software. You will have to look into what you need. Do you mostly mix beats with some sampled vocals? Then a PC and a good mic is probably all you need. Do you work with video and music? Then you will need a faster computer and software that allows for scoring to music. Do you have a live band? Then look into a home studio set up where the recording equipment and the band are separated by a room (or dividers, at least).

While it is ideal to be able to record with top-notch engineers in a sweet acoustic space, most folks do not have the cash to back it. Instead of letting your project sit and get stale, get your hands dirty and learn how to record from home. Then release your demos, rough cuts, mixes, etc. via social media to create buzz for your upcoming album. 

2. Use free downloadable software.
I paid $20 for this poster at Fiverr.
Apple computers are already equipped with Garageband, a very simple and user-friendly program that allows for composing with MIDI and some basic audio editing. Audacity allows for basic sound editing and is free to download. I highly recommend download.com for finding cool little sound programs. They have programs for either PC or Mac.

3. Have a friend design your album covers or outsource.
You can save serious dough by having an artsy friend design your album. The design can be something as simple as a goofy photo of the band or some esoteric abstract ink blot. Sites like Fiverr.com offer great options for album covers for $5-$20. The poster at the right was purchased for only $20 (including the full Photoshop file). I then took the PSD and made a variety of graphic designs, including a CD Cover and online banners from this design. 

4. Sell Digital Downloads.
The majority of sales today are actually downloads and/or streaming services. While individual streaming artist-friendly services are still over the horizon with sites like Bandcamp.com, you can still easily share your music with the world, for free on sites like Bandcamp.com, Reverbnation, Youtube, and Soundcloud. Even CD Baby is now offering a free service to host your music on their site. Most sites have an option to include a BUY button, or even options to LICENSE your music. Download cards are a great inexpensive way to have a physical product to share your music.

If you would still like to go with CDs, a good printer and CD labels will save you a ton. It is much MUCH cheaper to design, print, and press from home than to pay a print shop. One big BIG drawback, however, is when you need a large number of CDs. For that, look into having them professionally pressed. However, if you only need a few dozen CDs at a time, then printing from home is the best bet for you.

5. Use the internet to promote your album.
Facebook, MySpace, Technorati, Blogger, Reverbnation, You Tube - all of these sites are free marketing opportunities for your band. One company that will digitally distribute your music to i-Tunes, Amazon.com, and other retailers for a minimal cost is CD Baby

6. Do live recordings at your local church, high school, college or community center.
If you are involved in a local church, high school, college, or community center, you may be able to rent the main hall for a minimal charge. Many of these halls will already be hooked up with an expensive mixer and sound system and can be used for live recordings.

7. Work with other bands to find concert venues.
Collaborate between other local artists (or maybe even out of town artists) to create your own music festival, concert, or battle of the bands. Combining the marketing efforts will allow for a much broader fan base to show up to the venue, which means more sales in merchandise and albums, and more importantly, more people to dig your music.

8. Always look for that next opportunity.
Keep your ears and eyes open at all times. The guy sitting next to you on the airplane may be in the recording engineer, your professor might have a double life gigging at night, your sibling's friend may play a wicked guitar, a neighbor's garage sale might have those cymbals you have been wanting, or your physics lecture hall can be an amazing acoustic space. Always promote your band and have CDs, cards, and merchandise ready to go, along with a snazzy website and e-mail.

9. Look online when you need equipment.
E-bay, shopgoodwill.com, craig's list, freecycle, and many other online stores might have the equipment you need for peanuts.

10. Create awesome music.
No one is going to care about your music if it stinks. So first be sure to have a good product that they care about. Be original and make a statement. After all, bubble gum music may make money, but their success bursts once everyone realizes that they are producing schlock. Never give up on your vision, never compromise, and always persevere, and in the end, you will be a success.

Thank YOU for stopping by! Composer and Electronica Artist Sabrina Pena Young loves to create zany crazy experimental music while dancing around with animated characters for her latest work, Urban Nights: Sounds, premiering in 2015. If you want to check out her sci-fi animated opera Libertaria, check it out below! Find out more about Sabrina at her OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://sabrinapenayoung.blogspot.com/


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