Casey Shea: “On Spec”

| March 7, 2011 | 1 Comment

I spend a lot of time working on something called “spec.” WELCOME TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY!!!  Doing something “on spec” is doing something on your own time and on your own dime with no guarantee that anything will ever come of it. Spec is as much hope as it is hopeless.  My life is apparently on spec.

There’s only one reason anyone would be stupid enough to work for free, and that is that they love doing what they do.

A good deal of my time is spent in studios trying to make recordings for TV shows, movies, commercials, etc.  There are no guarantees….you’re just doing your best to create what some music supervisor is looking for a specific project.  80% of the time all I hear is the sound of silence.  (See what I did there!!??)  Maybe 18% of the time, I get an email saying someone likes it, and that it’s actually in the running with a few others!  The other 2% I might actually break through and make enough money to pay for part of the rent for the month.

Sure it can be frustrating, and seemingly pointless, but I’ve met great people doing it, and it’s opened a lot of doors that otherwise would have stayed forever shut.  And most importantly, I get to be in a studio creating.

The same goes with recording on people’s albums, whether it’s a friend who doesn’t have a budget or someone who can return the favor for one of my recordings.  If it gets me in front of a microphone, creating, improving, and learning, that’s often payment enough.  It’s only gonna make me a better musician and more prepared the next time I go in to record my next SMASH HIT!  Not to mention, I’ve met some great producers and new friends by taking the time to show up and lend a hand.  And the more people like that you meet, the more opportunities come your way, and the more you find yourself in studios.

My point is, if you got into the arts of any kind with the hope of being famous or getting rich quickly, you should probably quit now and go back to school… or go work in finance.   That’s not what art or life is about.  If you got into it because you have the need to create art, then create, create as much as possible, and be prepared to do it for free sometimes.

I’m not saying you should do everything for free.  Your time and talents are very valuable and should be respected.  There will be projects that pay, and those that don’t, but sometimes the ones that don’t will pay bigger dividends. Work on spec if you need to; work for free if you need to.  Get in as many studios as you can, any way you can, and keep creating a much as you can – it will pay off in ways you could not imagine.

Written By: Casey Shea

For more on Casey’s music, production, and talents or to read his blog please visit

Photo: Nicole Polec


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Category: The CEO Sidenote

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