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CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE TIPS

THE MAKINGS OF A GOOD CABARET CD

So you've done your cabaret show five or six times, and now suddenly someone suggests that you make a CD! After all, every cabaret performer you know has a CD, so why not you? In fact, there have been a few performers lately who have produced their first CD without having even done a cabaret show!

Based on listening to the hundreds of CDs I've received in the past few years, and having researched the business of producing a CD for a previous employer, here are some words of advice.

1. DON'T BE IN SO MUCH OF A HURRY

Making a CD is an investment, and like any important (and expensive) investment, you must proceed with caution and not haste. This is especially true if this is to be your very first recording. You want the first CD (and all that follow) to represent your very best. For the most part, you will be asking people to purchase something that you will want them to treasure. You don't want to sell them something that they will be disappointed in. CDs are often called "The Cabaret Performer's Calling Card." Folks who have never seen you in live performance will be hearing you for the first time. That first impression will be a lasting impression. Attendance at any of your future shows, and sales of any of your future CDs might just hinge on the quality of your first presentation.

2. GET THE BEST TEAM YOU CAN

Gather around the very best talent you can find to help you in producing your CD. The extra costs up front could mean the difference between selling two or three "pressings" of your recording, or ending up with 850 of the original run gathering dust in your hall closet. Ask around and talk to others who have recorded CDs. Look at the labels of the favorite CDs in your own personal collection, and jot down the names of the people and companies involved in their production and manufacture.

3. BUILD THOSE SAVINGS

Get your best estimates for the total costs of producing the CD, and then set aside about 25% more than the estimates before you begin. I hear many horror stories about folks who ran out of funds with their CD incomplete, delaying any return on investment for an additional 6 months or more. As with all estimates, folks tend to give you the lowest figure possible in order to gain you as a customer. They don't always mention the "hidden costs" like overtime, remixing time, etc. These unanticipated costs just might tempt you to cut corners, delivering an inferior product. Be prepared.

4. THE WORK DOESN'T END IN THE STUDIO

By the time you lay down that last track, figure that your work is only half done. You will want to be there during the mixing and remixing process as well. You will want to be sure that you are satisfied every step of the way. This is a process that cannot be done in a hurry. I heard one tale of a mixing engineer who pushed a client to sign off on a mix that the performer was really not satisfied with. But the engineer was in a hurry to get paid, and to get on with his next job, and finally talked the performer into giving an OK. As a result, the offending track was mentioned in just about every review written about the CD, and it took the performer a long time, professionally, to recover from that error.

5. THINK ABOUT DISTRIBUTION BEFORE YOU RECORD A NOTE

The most essential part of producing a CD is getting it into the hands of the purchaser. You certainly don't want 500 or 1000 CDs on your living room floor with no place to go. Again, talk to others who have been through the process. Ask what they did to get listed on amazon.com, or CDNOW. Some folks simply sell their product when they perform, with a small table at the back of the cabaret room or hall where CDs can be purchased. Others seek out local and distributors, which means less profit but far greater distribution and sales. Other performers have a website for the sole purpose of promoting and selling their CDs.

6. REBUILD THOSE SAVINGS

As the funds from the sale of the first CD start coming in, and as the real profits materialize with the second and third pressings, start putting that money aside for, yes, the next CD! Of course, first pay back the loans and credit card balances that were used up for the first CD, but realize that you are in a limited market. But if your first CD is a good one, folks will be looking to purchase the next one. And the second time around, everything will be just a bit easier. You might have developed a mailing list of customers who purchased the first CD from your website or after your show. If you have used local and national distributors, they will be an easy sell the second time if your first CD was a success. And you will have learned from all the little and big mistakes you made with that initial recording.

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