In the last two years, my world turned upside down. I put my toe in the water of making music professionally and quickly ended up diving headfirst. I went from a full-time job to full-time touring in the blink of an eye. Now, I can’t really imagine doing anything other than a career in music. If you’re just tuning in to the Caitlin Mahoney show, here’s what you missed.
I put out my first record West for a While two years ago, working a high-intensity job that often required me to work off hours, weekends, and overnight shifts. Working through the night and sleeping during the day was difficult, but it allowed me to fit recording time into a full time work schedule where I otherwise wouldn’t have been able. With this set of circumstances, I could fully afford the costs of this 4-song EP by myself. It was empowering, and it was also very important to me to do that. If I didn’t believe in this music enough to spend money on it, who would? I was lucky to have good friends who helped me create a professional recording both in sound and presentation by giving me the friends rate. All in all, West for a While cost me around $5000 to produce from start to finish, including production/engineering/mastering costs, instrumentalist costs, physical reproduction and packaging, and photography/graphic design. Like I said, lucky to have such talented, generous friends. Thank you for that, New York City. I have grown a lot since then musically and as a songwriter, but I’m still very proud of the end result.
Getting that record out to people was an exercise in trial and error, with indie tours, radio campaigns, contests and any opportunity I could find to see who (and if anyone) liked this music and wanted more of it. Meanwhile, I wanted to become a better writer and musician. I participated in songwriting challenges, played with different band formations, co-wrote with other musicians. This pursuit of growth culminated in a trip to Nashville for the first time. I decided to try recording a single with two people I had never met, Chris Grainger and Jonathan Trebing, based solely on the music I had heard them produce. In particular, a talented artist named Holley Maher, whose recording had interesting elements I wanted to explore on my songs. I also liked the idea of trying something completely different than my West for a While recording experience, which was filled with friends who basically saw me grow up as a musician in the time I had been in NYC. These people could begin where I ended, read my mind, because they were close friends. If I went to a city I had never visited, recorded with music professionals I had never worked with, I had to stand on my own two feet. To me, it was a test of the work I had put into my music and my craft over the past two years.
The result was a single called “Keep Looking Back” and it was the sound for which I had been searching. A little more pop, but still ringing true to the harmonies and acoustic instruments I love, and all the while experimenting with synths and electronic sounds in a way that didn’t freak me out too much. I was so happy with this end result, so it made sense to turn this into a full recording project and the next creative piece of Caitlin Mahoney to present to the world.
I arrived home from my second indie European tour of the year with an e-mail from the producers saying they had blocked out 10 days for recording at the end of October, which was just over a month away. Because my situation had changed and my music schedule no longer permitted for a full time day job, I wasn’t in a place where I could invest $10,000 into a record, but I didn’t want to sacrifice the project just because I couldn’t afford it. I decided to research how to launch a kickstarter, because I had toured a lot this year and generally am blessed with a pretty large network anyway. I was nervous to do it, but I didn’t think that was a good reason not to look into it.
The next installment of these blogs will cover things I learned throughout the crowdfunding process and note a few things I wish someone had told me going into it. In the meantime, preview the song that started it all on my soundcloud page, “Keep Looking Back” and check out West for a While here!
Thanks for reading! One of my new year's resolutions is to blog more. Got a question about my music or what I'm doing? Let me know what you want to read about! Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
Happy new year! xo Caitlin