Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World”. That’s great! You’re a musician. You love to sing. You know enough songs to fill a two-hour set. Now what?
In the old days, you had to pound the pavement from place to place, just to meet people who MIGHT want to listen to you. First you had to write and record your songs. You had to snail mail (aka. the U.S. Postal Service) your demo tapes to record labels and hope that they like them. If they liked you and actually recorded an album, then you had to use snail mail again to send the albums to as many radio stations as you could afford. Hopefully, they played your song and you were slowly on your way.
Luckily, things are very different today. Yes, there are still record labels, but for many musicians, it’s easier to get started on their own. Technology and the Internet have many tools available to help a musician record, upload and promote their tunes!
The first step is writing the song. If you’re just beginning, there are some local options. Girl Guitar offers a songwriting class that runs six weeks. If you’re not into the classoom scene, then you might want to check out the Austin Songwriters Group which is in its 25th year of serving Austin songwriters. There’s also a songwriting group on Meetup.com and another on a Facebook Songwriter page. A songwriting software such as Masterwriter is invaluable. I use it every day.
The second step is finding someplace to play the song. Now I know that some people might want to record it first but I like to actually try it out before I put the effort into recording it. Austin has some great open mic venues and there is a Facebook Austin Open Mic page that lists almost all of them. Gigmaven is another great source for finding venues to perform at.
Next, you’ll need musicians to play with you. Where do you find them? You can meet some great people at the open mics. But you can also access some amazing networking resouces online. Musolist is a website that specializes in locating other musicians. There’s also a Facebook page for people looking for gigs and bandmates.
Then it’s on to recording. The traditional route is to sign with a record label and have them pay for the recording. But, let’s face it, for the most of us, that’s just not going to happen. We’re going to have to find a studio and pay for it ourselves. Luckily, the Austin Texas Business List has a recording studio page as does the Texas Music Office. Or, as a beginner you could record the songs yourself at home using your own computer. Garage Band is probably the most popular recording software. The down side is that it only works on Macs, iPads and iPhones. There’s also Band In A Box, which I use to get the basics of the song down. Another option is to create a page on a website that allows you to collect payments from fans to help finance your time in the studio. The two that I’ve seen used are Pledgemusic and Kickstarter. The upside of going this route is that YOU get to decide how to spend the money. The down side is that you have to hope that your fans make enough pledges to pay for your project.
Once you have some songs recorded, you need to get them out to the public. Digital is the way to go. Sure, you still want to make physical CDs that you can sell at venues or mail to customers. But, in the meantime, there are several websites that provide platforms to market and sell your music. Munite, CDBaby, Numubu and Reverbnation all offer ways to connect with other musicians, producers, studios and, most importantly, the public. You can upload your songs and videos, send invites to people via connections to your Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Internet has literally brought the entire process into our own homes with so many different ways of reaching out to the masses. It has empowered all aspiring musicians and singers to take control of their careers instead of being dependant on others who might not share the same ideas of how it should be done.
So at the end of the day, there is no reason for anyone who wants to sing and record their own songs to not pursue their dreams. I can’t wait to hear some of the songs that come from your dreams! Best of luck!