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When should you make a recording?

lamarca 29 Nov 99 - 05:18 PM
Willie-O 29 Nov 99 - 05:35 PM
Les B 29 Nov 99 - 05:39 PM
Michael K. 29 Nov 99 - 05:51 PM
marcelloblues 29 Nov 99 - 08:10 PM
Willie-O 29 Nov 99 - 08:22 PM
Jeri 29 Nov 99 - 08:29 PM
lamarca 30 Nov 99 - 12:23 AM
Big Mick 30 Nov 99 - 12:40 AM
Sandy Paton 30 Nov 99 - 01:14 AM
Rick Fielding 30 Nov 99 - 01:23 AM
Big Mick 30 Nov 99 - 01:25 AM
Willie-O 30 Nov 99 - 02:21 AM
Gordon Cormier 30 Nov 99 - 02:57 AM
SeanM 30 Nov 99 - 03:40 AM
sophocleese 30 Nov 99 - 08:21 AM
reggie miles 30 Nov 99 - 11:03 AM
Big Mick 30 Nov 99 - 12:26 PM
John of the Hill 30 Nov 99 - 07:15 PM
Willie-O 30 Nov 99 - 07:48 PM
Roger in Baltimore 30 Nov 99 - 09:52 PM
kendall 30 Nov 99 - 10:10 PM
Terry Allan Hall 30 Nov 99 - 10:17 PM
kendall 30 Nov 99 - 10:25 PM
lamarca 30 Nov 99 - 10:32 PM
Big Mick 30 Nov 99 - 11:03 PM
Charlie Baum 30 Nov 99 - 11:51 PM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 01 Dec 99 - 10:52 AM
lamarca 01 Dec 99 - 02:27 PM
Art Thieme 02 Dec 99 - 08:36 PM
Big Mick 02 Dec 99 - 11:45 PM
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Subject: When should you make a recording?
From: lamarca
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 05:18 PM

Here's another hot-potato issue (no, Big Mick, not you...). It ties in with "Is Making Your Own CD Becoming Too Easy?"

Several friends have told my husband and I that we should make a CD. I have severe qualms about this. We enjoy singing, and we enjoy performing at the small festivals and coffeehouses that we attend. We've never done a paying gig. Both of us have serious day jobs, and wouldn't even THINK of trying to make our living doing music. We enjoy what we do, we think our friends enjoy listening to us, and we're pretty happy.

My issue is "When do you start charging people to listen to your music?" To me, this is a big step. By charging money, you seem to be saying "I am better than the rest of you at what I'm doing, and you should pay to hear me perform." When your social group is a bunch of fellow musicians of varying skill levels and musical abilities, this can be a source of divisiveness, envy and hurt feelings.

My personal feeling is that you should be very good at what you do and willing to invest your time, energy and enthusiasm in practicing for public performance before you can start asking people to pay money to hear you. I know too many examples of musicians that just whip out a recording to have something to sell, which is getting easier and easier to do as recording costs go down. I know old pros who stop bothering to practice, or get up on stage drunk, and just expect folks to spend money to hear them because their egos say "I'm so good I don't need to work at this..." (Is this more common in the popular and folk music field? You wouldn't catch Itschak Perlman or Yo Yo Ma saying "I'm good enough, I don't need to rehearse!")

Both my husband and I are musical perfectionists (he more so than me, even though I'm the Virgo). We think we're pretty good when we practice enough, but don't know if we want to invest the time and work to do more than the few festival gigs we do for free. We like performing, but I get in a real tangle about the money issue. How have other 'Catters considered this? What should you have to offer musically before you ask people to pay to hear you?


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Willie-O
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 05:35 PM

Oh, don't agonize so much, dear. Does the music you play have value? I certainly suspect so. Do you make mistakes when you play? Big deal, so do geniuses.

Try it and see--a cover charge or a CD. Nobody is forced to pay for it, after all.

And consider the other side--the music has value, some people depend on a concrete recognition of that in order to make a living keeping the music going, and that is a novel concept somewheres. I started booking small concerts locally, hiring performers whom I know are good, and try to pay them decently despite the small audiences. $10 Canadian is not a lot to pay for an evening or afternoon of high quality music. But a lot of the restaurants and bars around here are competing with "jam nights"--not because they support the music, but because its cheap entertainment for them to make a profit over.

If you don't need the money, why don't you try booking a show as a benefit or fundraiser for some worthy cause? You'll find out something about your (shudder to say it) market value, any way.

The music is worth it--that's why we do it!

Cheers
Bill C


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Les B
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 05:39 PM

Interesting question. As a member of a local conglomeration of musicians, we've gotten paid at various times with food, drink, applause, and, once in a while, cold hard cash. When an organization starts to "use" you as a free juke box, or a "house" band, then the line has to be drawn. For all the hours you put in learning your instrument and/or songs, you possibly should get some sort of remuneration. Actually, as I type this, I get the feeling this topic was discussed about six months ago in a thread on what various people charge for gigs. Nevermind.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Michael K.
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 05:51 PM

Another aspect is, being compensated for all the time you and your husband have spent honing your craft.

In just about any other business people are compensated for their TIME. Not so, generally with musicians.

When I was making my living soley as a professional working musician and band leader, I deeply resented hotels and club owners nickel and diming me, during contract negotiations. The one phrase that made me want to dunk the person across the desk from me, in hydrochloric acid was ''But you guys are having so much fun up there - what's the difference over a few bucks?''

I remember a particular conversation I had with a general manager of a hotel in his office, when we were renegotiating our contract. We'd been doing about 15 weeks a year at this particular hotel for the past 3 years without a raise - mind you it was always just a tad above whatever the union scale was at the time.

The GM says to me, ''why do you need a raise? There are dozens of other bands I could hire that could do just as good a job as yours, and I could get them cheaper''.

I broke my answer down into three parts.

Part A was, ''Sir. Are you making the same money now as you were 3 years ago? '' Then why should you expect us to.

Part B was ''Check your liquor sales records, and see which band sells the most booze during their engagement at your hotel.'' (as in keeping a dance floor packed causing people to get thirsty.)

Part C was ''With all due respect, I could learn your job in about 2-3 years if I really applied myself. Could you learn mine in the same time period?''

I got the raise, and some respect at the same time.

If you are confident, with your product you are justified in charging something for people to here you play publicly. Charge too little and nobody will respect what you are doing. Charge too much and they won't pay it. Experiment and talk to other musicians with a good business head on their shoulders.

Ultimately do it because you love it and feel compelled to. When performing live becomes more work than fun, it's time to retire from it.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: marcelloblues
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 08:10 PM

I perform as a loner here in Rome, something I call tradition, even if I know I shuold get more into it. I do think that the money i receive pay particular strings, hca's, cd's, and else. About the former question, people ask you for a cd, to keep something, a souvenir, they give you love doing this, you give love selling it to a reasonable price, I'll record one in the next days, if possible some good people will receive it for a Xmas gift. Give love, cheers


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Willie-O
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 08:22 PM

Marcello's spot on.

As to whether you should make a CD (and I can't quite figure out whether you're trying to talk yourself into or out of it): if you picked a dozen good songs out of your repertoire and played them the best you know how, would it be something you'd want to listen to more than once? Or would it elicit pitying looks on the Cat, (you can see them, you know) that say, "not the Black Velvet Band again."

I mean, would it sound so much in choice of material and style, like someone else, or would it elicit responses like "Hey, that's Lamarca & Hubby, I like what they do"?

Somehow, my guess is the latter. I think you need to be talked into it because you're modest. But you know better than me.

Bill C.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Jeri
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 08:29 PM

I've heard them - it's the latter. Of course, If I didn't know them, I'd say - "Wow, who are those guys, and why haven't they recorded a CD before this?"


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: lamarca
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 12:23 AM

Thanks, folks. I'm not fishing for compliments here, Jeri! (But thanks anyway...)

I'm more curious about whether and what other musicians here have thought about this question in general, not as it specifically pertains to us.

I like your comment, Marcello, about having something made by us that we can give to friends and family. I never looked at our doing music as being like an art or craft that you do out of love. Craftspeople give the work of their hands as gifts; I guess a recording is the same sort of work of love and skill.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 12:40 AM

This is not a compliment, but a statement of fact. I am shocked that you have never charged, or recorded. I have heard you and the two of you are excellent. My presumption after the Getaway is that you and George were doing paying gigs. Now, this is a compliment. You are marvellous and I would look forward to purchasing and hearing a CD of your work. And recommend it to anyone who would listen. What struck me about listening to your work was the amount of work you had obviously put in. Great timing, great vocal match, and marvelous delivery.

Mick


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 01:14 AM

And a hellova lot of fine songs not done by everyone else in the community!

Mary and George: when you get that CD done, please let me know. I'll certainly want to list it on our web site! I can think of no one (two?) I'd rather hear sing than the two of you. Seriously!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 01:23 AM

All right Mary, here comes the first request. (get used to it) ....their brass brasiers! Nope, I'm not going to spell it out for the catters who haven't heard it. Let it be a glorious surprise. If you want an experienced session guy for some mandolin, banjo, etc. give me a call!
Rick


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 01:25 AM

I would love to add some harmony.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 02:21 AM

I'm glad we've settled that question. And LaMarca, since you asked, I've been asking myself the same one for quite some time, except that in my case the question I ask is "where I can I find a couple thousand bucks to finish and manufacture the recording I got 60% finished in 1994?"

That's sort of a rhetorical question. There are a couple of other stumbling blocks. But right now I really have to get some sleep.

I'll expect a tentative song list next time I check in! Come on, get with the program. It won't take you long to overtake me.

Bill


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Gordon Cormier
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 02:57 AM

For years I played Music all across Canada, and often people asked me for a CD or Tape and for years I apoligized for not having anything recorded. It was a great compliment to be asked that, because it showed interest in my performance. Finnaly, I put the $$$$ together and made it happen. The best way in my opinion, to share your God-given talent is to play live and have something for your fans to take home with them so they can continue to enjoy your talent long after you're gone. Through your music on CD & Tape, you'll never know how many people's lives you've touched by your music passing through their speakers...Kinda like network Marketing :) Gordon Cormier


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: SeanM
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 03:40 AM

An issue that I've seen a couple of friend's groups squabble over (not to mention my own) is also "What do you include?"

While (as previously mentioned) there are a LOT of the 'catters who would probably cringe at Black Velvet Band (or Mountain Dew, The Mermaid, or a host of others), I'd also suspect that a lot of the performers on the 'cat have them as part of their regular repetoire. Personally, as we discuss putting our first CD together, we're considering including an old standard or two for mostly commercial reasons. We like the 'standards', but not quite as much as some of the other material, but we'll probably include it to give a random passerby a better chance of recognizing SOMETHING on our disc.

OK, now that I've committed heresy...

M


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: sophocleese
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 08:21 AM

If you're interested in recording you might like to read the story on this site

http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/finnigan/ranstory.html

just to give you an idea of some of the possible pitfalls. The Cd itself is lovely and I'm glad they recorded it.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: reggie miles
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 11:03 AM

I've never felt prepared enough for any recording that I've done. I've never had enough money to work long enough in any of the studios that I've recorded in to feel totally happy about how the finished product turned out. Does that make me a perfectionist? I don't think so. Perhaps I just haven't had enough experience with the recording process to understand it's limitations. I have nevertheless been involved with a number of recordings and my particular feelings about my participation and the results are a moot point. The recordings were sold to people who were interested in having them. There seems to be one basic hurdle to over come in any recording situation that being finding the right engineer. Turning all those knobs to make what one hears while performing reproduce acurately is definitely not an easy task. The technique of the how each instrument should be recorded as well as available gear to do the job are also part of the equation. Of course having someone with good ears and the right gear is one thing but I like what a good friend told me about the whole idea. He said what you pay for in all those high priced studios is the guy who can make you sound better than you are. Well until then I suppose any port in the storm will do.

Music from the ragged edge, rm


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 12:26 PM

One of the most talented singers that I have ever heard perform, and whom I am priviliged to say, has become a good friend told me that when you record don't get so hung up in the details that you fail to make progress. In other words, don't dump a take that is 90% there over something small. His own CD is a testament to this. The Artist is Dan Milner, known here as "Liam's Brother". And his CD is par excellence. Can't wait for the next one.

One danger in the home recording trend is the lack of that impartial, third set of ears. The producer, or skilled board man who can draw to the artists attention something that is just not right.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Get to it, youse guys! I want to hear this.

All the best,

Big Mick


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: John of the Hill
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 07:15 PM

Big Mick, Praise Serendipity! I was reading this thread out of curiousity since I have no plans of recording, when I came upon your quote "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." That my good man, encapsulates the problem I have fought for years of writer's block, stagefright, and generally having a tough time giving myself the benefit of the doubt. Now it won't make the years melt away or make my hair grow back, but I will recall it the next time I'm about to rip up another page, or blow off another jam session. More importantly, I can pass it on to my son. How should I attribute the quote? John


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 07:48 PM

Mick (goodta seeya) thanks for revealing Liam's sib's alter ego...I'd never put them together, now the cat is out...

SeanM, that's not heresy, that's common sense and even tradition. You put ONE, maybe two standards on, and sing em like they're the last song you'll ever get to do. Dick Gaughan did "Let It Be Me" on his last CD, fer chrissake, and it's splendid!

Part of the reason I haven't finished my CD is that the first part was done with someone who makes me--and the whole project--sound way better than I am. Then I let it slide for awhile, and I can't quite afford him (or get his attention or something, I'm not sure...)any more, but if I finished five or six more tracks without his magic ears, fingers, and ways of making me play better, they just wouldn't go with the first five. The other problem I have is that I can't sound _anything_ like that live, since it was kind of a serial band where all my friends came in and did dubs when they had time, cause they're friends. But it's not something I can really use as a demo, honestly.

So I suggest doing the first recording with fairly unambitious production, just clean and simple, live off the floor if possible. My first album, if ever finished, would make a good second or third album--but I never did the first one yet so I don't have gigs, airplay, a music career and like that.

But I'm not bitter !

That's a Canadian joke, don't worry about it.

Bill C


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 09:52 PM

LaMarca, I loved your post on the "cheap CD" thread. Your writing impresses me, it is so well thought out and expressed.

First, I don't have a CD of my own, but I have thought about it, read about it, listened to others who have been there and done that and here is what I have gleaned.

There are many reasons to make a CD. You and your husband would need to decide what your reasons are. You may want to make a lot of money. You may want it to promote yourselves as an "act." You may just want to hand it out to friends.

Despite what has been said in the "cheap CD" thread, making a CD outside of your home ain't cheap. At my income level it rates as a major expense. So if you want to make money (or even break even), it takes some time and effort. Say you spend $6,000 on your production (this is way low). At $15 a pop, you have to sell 400 CD's to recoup your investment. Do you have 400 friends to whom you want to give a CD or whom you want to buy your CD? Maybe. That takes care of the "gift" or just for friends idea.

If you want to get "serious" about promoting your music, you must have a CD, a least a demo, preferably the real thing. That is how promoters who have not heard you can make a decision on whether to hire you. It is how the public gets to know about your music over those limited folk airways or web sites. You will not be taken seriously as artists beyond your home town without a CD.

Perhaps you want to make some money at this. If that is your plan, then you really need to sit down and figure out how you are gonna sell those suckers. It's called a business plan. CD's make lousy coasters and door stops so you don't want many left over. Diane Rappaport (sp?) has written a book that describes the process of making a marketable CD. I highly recommend it to any one who wants to follow the path of profit.

Think about it. The typical starting out venue for folkies runs 30 - 50 seats. If you fill the seats, perhaps 10 may buy your CD. Then you have to perform at 40 venues to break even. If you want to break even in a year, that means 3 performances a month. Nice work if you can get it.

That others who have heard you play think you should record (translation: I'd buy one of them suckers!) is the first sign for "do a CD." That nice guys and gals with good ears like those above also say so is a better sign.

But the ultimate decision will rest on not "Gee, I could do that!" but more on "I could achieve my goal by doing that."

Good luck, however it goes. Hope this has been helpful to some poor soul out there.

The only reason I have for myself at this time is: "Yeah, I could do that!" I will wait until I am ready to be serious about "playing out" before I spend that money.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: kendall
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 10:10 PM

when to make a recording? when at least a dozen people whom you dont know say you should. Or, a dozen people whos opinion you respect...

That conversation with the bar owner trying to grind you down (the price) Whenever someone tries to beat me down, I tell them the story of the oats.. If you want good, top quality oats, you are going to pay top price. However, if you can be satisfied with those that have already gone through the horse, they are much cheaper. Sometimes I dont get the gig, but, I dont see it as a loss.And sometimes they say "It will be good exposure", I say " Hell, you can die of exposure!"


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 10:17 PM

As soon as YOU feel like it...you know what you have to offer.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: kendall
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 10:25 PM

when to make a recording? when at least a dozen people whom you dont know say you should. Or, a dozen people whos opinion you respect...

That conversation with the bar owner trying to grind you down (the price) Whenever someone tries to beat me down, I tell them the story of the oats.. If you want good, top quality oats, you are going to pay top price. However, if you can be satisfied with those that have already gone through the horse, they are much cheaper. Sometimes I dont get the gig, but, I dont see it as a loss.And sometimes they say "It will be good exposure", I say " Hell, you can die of exposure!"


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: lamarca
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 10:32 PM

Yes, Roger...I think far too many folks make recordings because they CAN...and I don't see that as sufficient reason in and of itself.

And Big Mick, a good friend has convinced me that most of the time "Good enough" is a saner,healthier and more achievable way to live Life than "Perfect"...seeing as I don't expect to achieve Divinity anytime soon, Perfect is not an alternative!

It's hard to give up impossibly high standards, sometimes, and you always wonder if friends who say they like your music are saying it because they're friends. I'm a faculty brat, and my Dad was a real hard grader, so I've always felt that an easy "A" was meaningless...I'd rather get a "B" from someone who's a hard, fair grader, than an "A+" from someone who gives everyone an A.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 11:03 PM

Hell, John of the Hill, I don't know how to attribute it. I just use it. Must have heard it somewhere along the road. It just makes a good point.

And Mary, the talent I heard and praised was matched against some pretty damn fine performers at the Getaway. I am telling you, critically, that George and you have a marvellous sound that should be preserved. I understand the financial piece. So the best I can offer is that if I ever become independently wealthy (as a union organizer????.....fat chance....hahahahah) your CD will be financed..........LOL

Mick


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 11:51 PM

Record yourself when you're good enough for posterity. It can be a self-judgment if (and only if) you have good self-critical skills; too many people don't. But when lots of other people with no investment in your ego think you ought to have a recording of yourself and/or of your material, and they tell you so, it's time to consider it seriously. Even if it's a craft-gift for friends rather than a commercial venture... We have all the wonderful traditional songs we do, and know about the singing styles of wonderful traditional singers, because at some point, someone recorded them. Lomaxes, Paton, Lloyd, Warner... dudes with tape recorders finding people who sang interesting things and sang them well.

In the old days, a recording was a serious financial drain; it HAD to be professional, because of the scarcity and expense of the equipment involved in its production.. Nowadays, you need good microphones and a DAT recorder, but that's still within the pocketbook of an amateur (and more so if you can share with others.) Record in one or two takes in someone's living room with a couple of mikes. There are lots of professional musicians do "Live at the [venue]" recordings, and someone's living room isn't that different, except for the lack of cost to rent. Invite talented friends in for choruses. A good home-made recording can be good enough.

With CD burners, you can make as small a run of CDs as you wish, and produce them on demand. While there may be intital production costs to recoup, no great investment is required in inventory, which again keeps the process affordable.

Enough of generalizations address to nobody in particular. lamarca--it's time for you and George to record your stuff!

--Charlie Baum


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 10:52 AM

Lamarca,

I reject your thesis that by charging for your music you are making a value judgement on it work vis-a-vis the efforts of others. There is intrinsic value in the work based on the amount of time and energy you have invested in it, that is worthy, in and of itself, of financial compensation. The only question remaining is whether such compensation is something you want to pursue. If so, then you should by all means act in pursuit of it. It is altogether fitting and proper to be compensated for what you create with your own hands, heart and mind.


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: lamarca
Date: 01 Dec 99 - 02:27 PM

Hey, Mick - we can't pay our back-up musicians union scale, so I guess we can't afford you...George and I sang back-up chorus on some of Judy Cook's songs on her CD, for which service she fed us (she's a good Cook, and a great cook). I also volunteer for NCTA's festival stage crews for room and board, so I guess I'm the sort of folkie who wears a placard saying "Will work for food (and/or beer)."

Seriously, I guess I have two entirely different questions here. Everyone has made some good comments about the pros and cons of making a recording. Thank you all for your comments and compliments.

What I'd like to hear now is a discussion of "When should you be paid for performing?" So I guess I'll start a new thread...


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 08:36 PM

Kendall, The times you didn't get the gig was because the club owner didn't get the gag! :-)


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Subject: RE: When should you make a recording?
From: Big Mick
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 11:45 PM

You drive a hard bargain, Mary, but it's a deal. But feeding the likes of me might be more expensive than paying me scale.....................LOL. You feed, I sing. Done........to there and no further.

All the best,

Mick


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