A few weeks back I was asked by a student, “How do you make an album if you are poor?”.
I guess the first route you could take is apply for some music funding, although when you are just starting out this avenue might not be available to you. It’s probably not available to the ‘lions share’ of muso’s out there. Those who understand the process know it’s not worth getting upset when you miss out, nor is it worth trying to base an artistic career on grants. It won’t happen.
Arts funding wasn’t an option for us at all when we formed our band, Cassandra’s Ears, in the 80’s. As we had never heard of it we figured out other ways of recording our music and getting it out there. We toured a lot and we saved the proceeds. And yes we were broke, I guess, but wow were we rich in spirit.
Cassandra’s Ears bought an old Dodge van from my father and toured the country relentlessly. We put all our savings into our music. Believe it or not, the Ministry of Women’s affairs gave us $500 towards our first EP and Jayrem Records helped us distribute them. I am still incredibly proud of the recordings Cassandra’s Ears made. (Last year we even put them on to a mini album and released “The Cassandra’s Ears Story”.) If we had given up every time someone told us our music ‘sucked’ then we would never have got anywhere. Being in Cassandra’s Ears taught me how to successfully “kick against the pricks” and never give up – this has put me in very good stead over the years.
Yes the road is tough and the odds of really cracking it are stacked very firmly against anyone anywhere in the music industry – but, when you think about it, isn’t that true for most industries?
My attitude is this; when you are walking any road you’ll most likely reach your destination in the end if you don’t stop. Poor, rich or physically stilted in some way – if you really want to do something the only person stopping you from doing that is yourself.
There are so many stories of people overcoming great odds and getting to the top of their field. I always take inspiration from these.
How? It’s all just a matter of starting.
Dianne Swann (The Bads) gave me some great advice once. She said “Just work on your album five minutes a day if that’s all you’ve got and one day it will be finished”. If you keep on adding up those five minutes next thing you have stacked up 100 hours and you are nearly there.
I heeded that advice on my last album and eventually it was made and finished. ALL GROWN UP. It was surprising how fast it all came together once I made the decision to make it. The odds were not in my favour. I hadn’t released anything in NZ for a long time. I had kids and a mortgage and nothing left over to pay for any recordings. But I did have the songs and some very supportive friends and fans. Then fortunately I had some incredible luck or fortune – as some say, fate intervened. (That’s another story I will tell one day – it needs its own stage)
When I look at how far I have come now the feeling of accomplishment is greater because I did it on my own terms and I have a sense of contentment and gratefulness that creeps in at many stages of any given day.
You can either spend your valuable time moaning about what you haven’t got, or concentrate on what you do want. The later is always my modus operandi.
So the answer to “how do I make an album is I am poor?”
The same way you would make an album if you weren’t poor. Just do it.