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Recording? Read This First (Part 1)
Are you getting
ready to go into the studio and dish out some of your hard earned
cash? Well, be prepared, cause it ain't gonna come cheap. But there
are a few ways to make your dollars go further, and I'll offer you
my best advice as a recording artist and a studio owner myself.
Hope you find it helpful.
The first task
at hand, before you even book any studio time, is to make certain
decisions about what you want from your experience in the studio.
Is it a finished CD? Or do you just need a demo to get gigs at the
clubs? Each of those, and all the options in between, need a specific
approach when it comes to planning and budget.
First, a word
about "demo", which is kind of like the word "alternative" at this
point in time. There's demos you do live for clug gigs, songwriter
demos usually meant for publishers who put the vocal and lyrics
right up front, there's the kind of demo a record company might
ask for, which is usually a lot like a finished master in the rest
of our minds. And what it's going to cost you to record each of
these "demos" can vary by a huge amount. So have a clue about this
before you call your local studio and say " My band wants to record
a demo, how much will it cost?"
If you want
to record and release your own disc, you probably want to spend
the cash to do it right. There are bands who do it on a shoestring
budget and get great results. Make sure your fans would buy it in
that form if you chose this route. Because I've met a lot of bands
who did this, had a reasonable amount of success with it, and then
came back saying they had a chance to get some radio airplay, but
the station didn't think it was radio quality. Oh shit.
Still, an album
can be done on a modest budget these days. Planning is the key.
A lot of bands want to record "live" to keep the feel of their music
on tape. This works best for punk bands, but even then, it's not
a bad idea to overdub the vocals and lead guitar.
and cost effective way to record is to cut the drummer and bass
player together, with the bass lined in as opposed to having a miked
cabinet. You can have the guitarist lined in, too, and either use
his tracks or overdub them later. And the singer can even cut a
scratch vocal at the same time. This gives you the essence of playing
live, but with the cleanest tracks and greatest flexibility when
mix time comes. You simply overdub the guitar and vocals, and it
all sounds good and clean, none of that nasty bleed-through that
can cause you problems in the mix. If you still feel compelled to
do the whole thing live, you better be well rehearsed. One mistake
means either a.) living with it for a long, long time or b.) cutting
the entire song over til there is no mistakes.
On the subject
of finished masters, definitely consider having some post-production,
otherwise known as mastering ( another word in this biz with too
many definitions ) done. A lot of studios offer computer-based mastering
and editing. The results can be OK, but most times it is just as
cheap to have a real live mastering engineer do it. Mastering is
a step that adds an undefinable finished quality to your mix. These
guys are usually mix engineers for at least 10 years before they
even get a shot at learning mastering. The mastering engineer's
job is to tweak the finished stereo mix so that it sounds good on
any audio system it's played on. If you've invested this much, consider
the relatively small amount needed to master it as essential. Trust
me, it does make the difference between good and professional. An
excellent mastering engineer is DRT
Mastering in Peterborough, NH. This guy comes highly recommended,
and he even offers a money-back guarentee.