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Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick Any Two

This article was written by Cliff Goldmacher for BMI on September 2, 2011

Making your way through the maze of a musical career is a complicated endeavor to say the least. It’s doubly so given that you’ll have to make not only the musical decisions but also the critical business decisions along the way. I heard an expression a few years ago that really stuck with me as it outlines the reality of the choices we have to make time and time again. That expression is simply “good, fast, cheap: pick any two.”

If you’re willing to invest money, you can move more quickly towards the end goal of musical success — good and fast but not cheap — but what I find more encouraging is that if you don’t have the money, you can still achieve “good” by slowing down and being resourceful — good and cheap but not fast. That leaves the one combination that we need to guard against — fast and cheap but not good.

In this article, we’ll look at all three of these scenarios and see how they play out daily in the music industry.

Good & Fast (Not Cheap)
“Good, fast and not cheap” is best illustrated in the approach taken by the big record labels and publishing companies. When making albums for their artists, labels use the best studios, the most talented session musicians and employ whole marketing and promotion departments to spread the word about their artists. This has the effect of bringing their music to the eyes and ears of the public in relatively short order but it comes at a huge price — a price that the artists, themselves, often spend years paying back before they see any real financial success of their own.

When it comes to the major publishers, they invest significant capital in high-quality demos for their writers and hire song-pluggers whose sole purpose is to get the songs in their catalog recorded. The end result is that these companies get their songs recorded much more often than the independent writers out there trying to go it alone. But, again, songwriters who are signed to these companies — like the artists above — have to wait until many of these expenses are recouped before they see any income from their songwriting successes.

Read the full article here.

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