In December, we held a panel discussion with some of the top demo producers in LA. In this issue, we'll explore the option of making demos in Nashville. In addition to the typical method of recording a track at a time, there are studios in Nashville that offer the choice of recording live with a full band.
Craig did live tracks at Country Q, the biggest and best-known studio in town, used by many of the top hit writers. The biggest advantage of demoing live is that you get top players giving you the feel and spontaneity of a live performance. It's also fast. Craig had tracks for five songs laid down in a 3-hour session.
The biggest disadvantage is that in order for this to be economical, you need to do four or five songs in one session. This is because union rules require that the players be paid for a three hour session at a minimum. At County Q, the cost for five songs is around $2000.
Seth did a hybrid session at Lakeside Productions. The drums, bass, and rhythm guitar were done live, and the remaining parts were overdubbed. This took more time, but cost $500 less than County Q, and the results were equally outstanding. Economizing, however, meant sacrificing elements of a full band. There were no keyboards and no steel on these demos.
Seth has also done more typical style demos at The Song Cellar. These demos have run from $225-$300, and the results have been excellent. The biggest disadvantage of this type of demo is that you don't have the luxury of a live drummer. The drum tracks are done with a drum machine.
Nashville demos have the advantage of top musicians who are very much plugged in to what's hot and what's not in terms of production values. The major publishers in town use these players and singers, so your demo has the sound industry decision makers expect. Top vocalists are available for $40-$50 per song, far less than the going rate in LA. Also, when publishers hear a singer they recognize, it can work in your favor.
The downside, of course, is that you need to be in Nashville, which can run you up a hefty travel bill! Unless you decide to use mail order, an option we'll discuss in a future article.
To be continued...
Sunday, Jan 28 - PLEASE NOTE!!!
Craig Lackey's STAGE WEST, originally scheduled for this date, has been rescheduled for March 10. See below.
Sunday, Feb. 4, 5-8pm at Musicians Institute, NSAI Creative Writing Exercises
Based on exercises developed by Jon Ims ("She's In Love With The Boy"), Rick Beresford ("If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me"), and other Nashville hit songwriters. Bring a lined note pad, pencil, a guitar if you have one, and most importantly, an active imagination.
Sunday, Sunday, Feb. 11, 5-8pm at Musician's Institute, Guest Speaker Jenny Yates
Hit songwriter Jenny Yates, whose credits include Garth Brooks' "Standing Outside The Fire", will share her experience and insight on songwriting craft and business. As a writer who makes frequent commutes between Los Angeles and Nashville, Jenny will have a lot to offer from the LA writer's perspective.
Sunday, Feb 11, No workshop.
Sunday, Feb 25, 5-8pm at Musician's Institute, Group Song Critiques
Bring one song (on cassette or play it live) and 20 copies of lyrics. We also critique lyrics only or music only.
Sunday, March 10, 8:00PM, Craig Lackey's STAGE WEST at Grounds Zero, 7554 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
STAGE WEST is a showcase featuring some of LA's top up-and-coming country writers backed by Denny Martin's all-star band Tasty Licks. The March 10 showcase will feature Jan Daley, Seth Jackson, Craig Lackey, Larry Vail, and a showcase appearance by band leader Denny Martin. A $3 donation is requested at the door.
Unless otherwise noted, workshops are held from 5-8 p.m. at Musician's Institute, 1655 McCadden Place, just off Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. Admission is free for NSAI members and NAS members, $10 for non-members. For more information, call Bev Nelson at (714)733-2717, or Craig Lackey at (310)439-4069.
The Los Angeles workshop would like to welcome the following new members who joined us in the 4th quarter of 1995: Becky Jake Fernando, Cliff Nelson, Janet Thompson, David Fisher, Arth Lakin, Ron Rosen, Jim Campbell, Rose Rubalcala, Richard Honig, Charmaine Cockerham, Brian Cockerham, Paul Kulak, Winston Siemens, Diane Fisk.
We're glad for the opportunity to get to know and to grow with you all!