How Many Songs Should An Unsigned Band Record? Going Viral Part 1

keycat.jpgAs a record producer one of the first questions I often get when planning a recording is, “how many songs should we record?” This is a complex questions and is better answered with what you should be thinking about when deciding how many songs to record. Follow me to the jump and we will start to discuss some of the considerations you should be thinking about when deciding how many songs you should record.

When bands decide how many songs to record, I often ask them why they choose this many songs? I get one of two answers.

  1. It’s how many we wrote
  2. This band did it and they are popular

Both of these ideas are poorly thought out and continue the perpetual cycle of poorly thought out decisions in the music business. The first thing we need to think about is what are you are trying to accomplish with your next recording. Recording a few songs and seeing what works is a strategy that can work but is not the smartest way to go about it.

Value Vs. Viral
The easiest way to start getting in the ball park of how many songs you should record is to decide one simple decision, are you just trying to get signed/ create a buzz or do you need something to sell at shows? If the answer is both or you need something to sell at shows you need to make an EP or LP worth of songs. If you are just trying to get your song to spread like wildfire across the net or get signed you do not need to be recording any album tracks or any song you don’t feel is your absolute best material. That is what we will be discussing the rest of this article.

Going Viral
If you are going to bank on you have an amazing song and sound that is going to blow everyone away you don’t need to record any song that you think is not your best. This philosophy has worked for many bands over the years. While many bands get scared a label will want to hear more from you, it is often better strategy and more cost effective to just record the songs that are solid gold and if a record company is interested they will ask to hear more and by that time you will have had a chance to write more strong material, rather then having to show them a few sub-par songs you had written at that point. Recording your mediocre material is not going to help impress listeners or A&R, it is just going to show you are capable of writing duds. Whereas if you have some more time to write more songs by the time the world wants to hear more from you, you have the time to write another set of spectacular songs. This gives you an advantage over every band that is putting out two of their best songs and two duds.

Why Not Record A Few To Choose From?
By the time you are in the studio between you and your producer (or if you follow our instructions some other people), should have figured out what songs are your strongest material. Obviously you will have a finite budget. If you are really looking to make a great impression on the world, it is best to harness that budget to it’s full potential and record as few songs as possible if you are going down the viral road. This will leave you plenty of time and the ability to afford as high quality as possible in the studio, rather then devoting time and attention to songs that aren’t going to get you anywhere.

Next time we will be discussing how many songs to put on an EP or LP so stay tuned. 

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.