As I wrote about in chapter five of my book, I have been a musician since I was 13 years old when my mom bought me my first guitar. I’ll never forget it. It was an Ibanez RG270 and it was fantastic. Since then, I learned how to play the bass guitar and drums, and also began singing.
In 2012, I formed my first band, and I joined my second in 2013. Until 2016, I had never written any of my own original music, but in 2017, I released my first solo five-song EP, under the name Truth Assassin. Since then, I released another single, a full-length album, and another three-song EP.
The music went on Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, and my Bandcamp page. No one really listened to it, except me on occasion, and I was okay with that. I didn’t expect to make money; I was making music because I loved it.
I learned so much about the music-making process and how difficult it is to get things to sound the way you want, especially as a musician who was recording everything at home with my own hardware and software.
I had a nice setup. I used a hardware interface to connect my instruments to my computer and then used some software to record my tracks. I connected my electric drum set to my computer as well, and used a MIDI file to record the drum tracks. Once I had everything, I sent all the files to Ben Schwartz, my audio engineer in Massachusetts, who would mix and master all of the tracks and get me the final versions.
Within the past few weeks, I wrote more music and decided I wanted to release another four-song EP, so when it came time to record, I reached out to Ben and told him to expect some tracks very soon.
Except it didn’t happen. No matter what I did, I could not get my drums to record as they needed to be. I found no help on home recording message boards, and Ben didn’t know the answer either. I tried everything…different recording software, different cables, and I even completely reset the laptop I used to record it so it would have all available memory.
It didn’t work, so I emailed Ben and told him that I was thinking about throwing in the towel. He encouraged me to keep going, saying that my listeners wouldn’t care if the drums weren’t perfect. They just wanted to hear my music, he said.
Except they didn’t. My Spotify analytics showed that about three people listened to my music every month. Despite my marketing and outreach efforts to record companies, fans, and websites, I was never able to gain much traction.
I began to think about the question in the title of this post. I loved making music, so was I really considering stopping?
I was…and in the end, I decided that, for the time being, I was going to stop recording and I came to that decision because of a few factors, and I’ll save the best for last.
First, I was disappointed about my listenership. It was never very good, and while I never thought I’d be a popular musician, I thought I’d have a bit more of a following than I did.
Second, the monetary costs were too much. This is how it would break down for a four-song EP:
|1. Mixing and Mastering||$75/song|
|2. Digital Distribution||$69|
|4. Advertising and Promotions||$50|
I’d be out almost $500 and earn only pennies back. Yes, seriously pennies…look up Spotify’s royalties system for how little money unknown artists make.
Third and most importantly, the final music wouldn’t sound how I wanted it to, and if I were the only one listening because I was recording the music simply because I loved doing it, then I didn’t think I’d be happy in the end. Before you rush to judgment and suggest that I should be happy with whatever I record, I wish that were the case. The first five-song EP I recorded had a drum sound I was not happy with, and I’ll be honest and say that I don’t listen to that EP…ever…because of that. Once Ben and I got my sound to where we wanted it to be, I loved it, and I just can’t go back.
You might also suggest going to a recording studio. Unfortunately, that would cost me a minimum of $400 per session. Add that to the costs above and I’m out almost $1,000.
That’s where I seem to be. For now, I say goodbye to Truth Assassin. Maybe after November of this year, there would be no more need for it anyway.
Why would you give up on something you love? Money? Effort? Or just maybe it’s not what you thought it was?
For more on my musical journey, check out my book, Get After It: Seven Inspirational Stories to Find Your Inner Strength When It Matters Most.