Monday, March 12, 2012

Up to scratch

Our producer came into town on his way to El Paso, and we had lunch with him this afternoon. The conversation eventually drifted to our second album, which we're going to make happen as soon as we get certain logistics worked out. Drew instructed us to record every song he hasn't heard yet. Then, as he did for our first album, he would provide feedback on which ones we should consider using.

Just get everything down as quickly as we can, he said, without worrying about quality.

I told him that I wanted to take a little more care than that. Every now and again we post our live-from-Ron's-living room recordings on the blog, and even though we don't need them to be perfect, they should at least be free of egregious errors.

Said Drew: "That's a terrible idea."

Cinder Bridge is a brand, he explained. The only songs we should ever make available to the public are the ones that are good enough to go on one of our CDs. If we post a scratch recording—what musicians call a low-quality live track that gives listeners a basic idea of the lyrics and melody—we're allowing people to associate mediocrity with our brand.

I see his point. And I hate to debate him on this or anything else related to the music industry. He's been in the biz a very long time. He's one of the best.

And yet, a blog isn't supposed to spend all its time trumpeting the perfection of a brand. Nobody likes the blogs that read like press releases. A little vulnerability helps you connect with your audience better than a thinly veiled advertisement, and it's a lot more interesting.

Further, I don't generally just put up a scratch recording and say, "Here's a song, please listen." The song comes with a story, or it ties in thematically with whatever topic I'm writing on. At the very least, it's a follow-up to some post where I talked about writing the song. "Hey, remember how I struggled to find a rhyme for that one line? Here's how it all turned out."

What do you think? Should bands post their scratch recordings, or make their audience wait for the stuff that's ready for prime time?


Tony Mach said...


Some scratch recordings (albeit, if done halfway right) are a very nice addition for many of the band and songs I like. But usually one hears the "pro" recording of a song first and the scratch recording is released later…

Rose Price said...

I don't normally post demo's either, however "dove queen" and my sample of my new piece (menuette of ecstacy) which is only 38 seconds long, is on my soundcloud. I think generally a lot of musicians don't come out with their scratch recordings until after they're famous or something.. but honestly it's up to you. I feel like demos show the steps and progression of the song and also show your fans what you're up to, keeping them up to date. I personally don't want my fans to see huge lags of months at a time between new songs or new media, but that's just my opinion. Another factor is your equipment- of course the more advanced editing and good quality equipment you have to make demos before mastering, the more impressive the demo is.

If you want your own perspective, check out my soundcloud and from what you heard on the demo, tell me if you think I should have posted "dove queen" or not.



Brian McDonald said...

Unfinished tracks might be nice to post AFTER the finished recording is out. When I listen to a song for the first time, I don't want it to be a practice run. Now that I think about it, I probably don't need to hear the practice run ever. All of the CDs I have with demos as bonus tracks, I don't even bother ripping those to my iTunes.

Jeff Shattuck said...

I'm Brian on this, post demos after you've finished your studio version. When I was growing up -- and even now -- I love hearing old demos and alt takes of my favorite songs because they reveal the writing process and rekindle my interest. Beforehand, they might interest me, but with nothing to compare them to they're just not going to interest me that much.

Jannie Funster said...

Hmn, very interesting question. As you know, I like e-mailing songs in progress if I'm happy with them, even tho they may change for the cd version. I think whatever you like to share when you want to is the way to go.

I like the idea of doing a quick recording of all songs to be considered. I might do that next time. Songs I really liked at first and I've invested a lot of time and some money in have fallen by the wayside. Maybe the 3rd 12 (tho the second 12 are not all done...) I'll write and play them out for a year or two, even write 24 and pick my fave 12. Yes, record the ones I really like playing out.

But it is an ever-changing process. We try things out and maybe learn how to improve on our plan.

Exciting about your new tunes! I know they'll sound great because you are an excellent songwriter, singer, musician and you really care about your message.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is pathetic. Much like you.
have a nice day :)