Because, with the exception of a couple of cover songs on the first album, everything else I wrote is original.
It's not all equally good or equally important, but it's all stuff I wrote.
And when I stop and think about that it does two things:
First, it sort of blows my mind.
Second, it reminds me that, no matter what struggles I deal with on any given day, I am truly blessed to be called to do this creative work.
And so my thoughts have recently turned to making another album of original songs.
So, in the interest of thinking out loud, I'm going to share my thought processes with you over the next several posts. Because I think it might be interesting to let you in on what I'm thinking, and how this particular singer-songwriter goes about bringing all the little bits together into an album.
Today's thought: How much should an album cost to make?
In the grand scheme of things, my making another album won't change the world. It won't bring about world peace or restore jobs and homes to everyone who's lost them due to economic greed or war or whatever else. It certainly won't make me rich, or even financially stable.
But making albums is a way for me to get my songs out there, to be heard and shared and absorbed by people. And for some reason I can't quite articulate, that really matters to me.
In the world of Jewish contemporary music, my albums are small potatoes, both in the making and in the selling. My last album, Sliver In The Sky, took three months of focused rehearsal, two days to record in the studio, and about $4,000 to make. It was just me, singing and playing guitar and laying down a couple of percussion tracks.
By contrast, the last four crowdfunding campaigns of other Jewish artists, raised an average of $10,000 to 20,000 each, for recordings ranging from a four-song EP to a ten-song album. Those albums had producers, paid musicians, and recording and mastering processes that took weeks, not days.
There is, I admit, a part of me that would like to experiment with a more thickly-textured recording. But the larger part of me rebels against the idea that music should be so expensive to create, record and distribute.
Let's face it, I chose a genre that's really, really small, I don't sell a ton of recordings, and in the end I give about 1/3 to 1/2 of my recordings away -- to radio stations, small havurot (communities) without much money, and young artists just starting out who need encouragement. I also accept that I live in a post-copyright world and so I don't bother spending money I don't have to join groups like ASCAP or BMI, because how on earth would I benefit from membership in those organizations when my market is so niche-y?
I'm not upset about any of this. In fact, I sort of like that I've managed to get my songs out into the world without mortgaging my life away in the process. But last year at a Jewish conference, when I was given a half a table from which to sell my recordings and other items, another artist came to me, saw what I was charging per CD, and told me I was undercutting everyone else. "The going rate we all sort of agree upon is [X], " I was informed. I took a deep breath, and responded politely that I would not raise my prices, because my CD didn't cost a lot to make and I saw no reason to gouge my fans to make up a difference I had not spent. I later found out that this artist had spent upwards of four times as much to make their latest five-song EP, not even a full-length album. But they made a choice, and so did I.
Do I want to change what I'm doing and make a more elaborately produced album this time around? Mostly NO, but I am also paying attention to the little part of me that says Maybe. Because even if I go with my gut, that little voice might have something to teach me, and that's always worth paying some attention.
I welcome your thoughts. Just drop me a line over at my COMMENTS page. And thanks.