‘Takes a Lot of Prayer’ to Make Money as Jazz Band
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — In a nondescript white building on the north side of Girard, SounDoctrine is recording its fourth album, “Source.”
Inside Listen Studio, the four core members of the jazz group focus on the music, recording tracks and splice in guest artists who sent in their contribution from other parts of the country.
All four members – Frank Walton, Mitchell Lawrence, Dylan Waters and George H. Beulah Jr., better known as Jere B – are full-time musicians.
While the younger three members freelance and play with other bands, Jere B spends most of his time in the studio, recording his own tracks and working with other bands who use the space. For SounDoctrine’s four albums, he’s also served as the producer.
“It takes a lot of prayer,” Jere B says with a laugh. “It’s a lot of my own money that’s gone into it. There are residuals and royalties we receive from the record after sales and radio play. That income goes mostly back into the project to pay it off, pay myself back and pay the members of the band.”
For a typical album, Jere B has worked the price of recording, production, mastering and cutting an album down to about $8,000, most of it out of his own pocket.
“We learned early in the game that to be an independent artist, we had to do as much on our own as possible,” he says. “For the first album, we paid for everything you could imagine. The second album was pretty expensive, probably about $8,500. By the third album we were really efficient.”
Recording in their own space is one way to save money. By mastering their owns tracks, SounDoctrine can save up to $800 per album. Burning CDs and printing the artwork can cost up to $2,400 if outsourced. Instead, Listen Studio has its own machine.
A friend in Baltimore does the artwork for “no more than a couple hundred bucks,” Jere B adds.
To date, SounDoctrine’s three albums have combined sales of 35,000 or so. Over the years, the trend in the recording industry has switched to online sales through iTunes. SounDoctrine CDs used to be carried in a few bookstores, including Borders in Niles before the chain closed in 2011, he says. Now, the only brick-and-mortar store that will carry SounDoctrine albums is Barnes & Noble in Boardman.
Even with so much done in-house, there remains one part where SounDoctrine had to enlist help: tracking its inaugural dedicated single.
Sent to 213 jazz stations nationwide, both online and over-the-air, the group’s “Stop on By” is being monitored by Unlimited Wealth Entertainment in Cleveland.
Years of experience – Jere B is perhaps best known for producing the former Dan Ryan Show on WKBN-AM and helping stage the Youngstown Jazz Fest – have also helped the younger members of the group.
“As a freelancer, I work for whoever calls. On the business side, that opens up doors and Jere helps with the heavy-duty stuff,” says pianist Frank Walton.
Doing the work in Youngstown, he continues, has made him stay focused on his music.
“Youngstown’s a city where everything’s what you make of it. You get what you put in,” Walton says. “It’s not an entertainment city or a music city, so you have to push. But when you do, people are really receptive.”
Pictured: Pictured: Frank Walton, Dylan Waters, Jere B and Mitchell Lawrence are the current core of SounDoctrine. Jere B invited other artists to contribute, including guitarist Eric Tyus, on the band’s single “Stop on By.” The song peaked at No. 8 on WNWV in Cleveland.
Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.