Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
My bandmates and I want to record music (our soon-to-be-major-hit songs). We're rich in talent but not in $$$. What are some basics we need to know in terms of laying down some professional-sounding tracks on the cheap?
If you're cash-poor but tech-savvy and have time to learn,
music by going DIY.
You can buy
a digital audio workstation (recording
software) for under $1,000. Numerous companies manufacture
quality microphones and preamps, which you’ll
(Look at magazines like EQ and
Op, and websites like GearSlutz.com for
reviews of all the
above.) Just a heads-up, though: Expect to spend 80
percent of your
time learning how to use all this before playing a
up for it? You can
book a recording
studio with an engineer -- it will cost
more, but it
will also allow you to focus on making music. First, figure
much you can afford to pay, then tour several local studios.
“recording studios” and your zip code --
“recording engineers.”) Talk to the house
and listen to samples of their recent work. Ask if the studio
an “indie rate.” Look at their client list:
you know anyone on it, call them; if not, find the artist’s
music online. Bottom line: You don’t need to hire any Mr. or
Fancy-Pants Producer at a gazillion dollars an hour.
Next: Rehearse till you drop!Record yourselves
listen critically. A really well-rehearsed band can record basic
for three to five songs in two days.
overdubs and mixing, many professional engineers have their own
studios that are less expensive -- just make sure you've heard
that were mixed there. Mixing can take many
hours, so see if the engineer offers a project rate (a flat fee for all
of the mixes). Done mixing?
Shop around for a mastering
(Prices vary widely.) Either
way, a five-
or six-song EP is enough for a debut. Use a reputable
company to press CDs (which you can find on
Web by searching "CD manufacturers"). You don't need a local
many indies go with Discmakers or Oasis. Only order what you
to sell and use for promotion; focus on digital distribution, but
you'll still need some physical CDs for radio.