Getting Started : Your First Recording Project
So you’ve spent your fair share of time writing songs, you’re fluent with your songs, you’ve been playing them at shows and you know your arrangements (or not).
Time to take your next step to superstardom and record that album or EP that’s going to launch your career out of this world! Label execs will be fighting for your time and signature and you’ll be playing stadiums in no time…. sort of…okay fine not really.
At least it doesn’t normally pan out that way but still, you’re moving into new territory and there are a few things you’re going to have to take note of.
1. Know that it’s a business .
It’s time to realise music isn’t just an art, it’s a business too. Art alone will not feed you or the people you decide to work with, neither will “exposure”.
So take note of your finances and resources so you can plan each step as you go. Rushing into this will not help you. If you’re going to doing this in your home studio have you bought everything you need to make sure get the sound you want?
If you’re doing this in the studio do you roughly know how long it will take to get each song done? Can you afford to spend that much time recording your tracks and still get the quality of music you want?
That plus the amount you will need to pay your session musicians (if any), is something you need to take into account before embarking on your sonic journey — unless you don’t mind having the entire project grind to a frustrating halt halfway through because you didn’t know it would cost xxx amount.
2. Be honest with yourself.
Why are you recording this album/EP? Is this just something you’re doing for yourself and intend to fund with income from your day job that you will show around to your friends then leave forgotten in your room? Or do you intend to profit from this?
It could also be a stepping stone that you are willing to lose money on in order to gain things that will benefit you further like publicity or the experience itself. You might have a few reasons or only one, whatever it is know that it is perfectly valid as long as you acknowledge it and act accordingly.
If you’ve just retired from your day job and “recording an album” is something you’d like to cross off your bucket list and show your friends and family there is no need to spend excessively and print 2000 copies or to assemble the covers in an attempt to save money.
You are not going to profit from a project you are doing for kicks, enjoy the ride. That is after all what you are paying for. (Unless of course you want your ride to include assembling covers yourself and having tonnes of CD’s in your living room, in which case by all means go ahead. )
Being honest with yourself also means acknowledging the musical ability of you and/or your band. This will help you gauge how much time you need to spend in the studio or what additional equipment you may require.
This will probably only go well if you’ve taken points 1 and 2 into account. So be honest with yourself about your plans and be sure of your resources.
This is more for those of you who are recording material and are aiming to profit (or at least cover their overheads) or use their recorded material to further their musical career.
Figuring out what people are used to paying for a budding local artist’s (you) work is very important. As is being honest about how many people you know that would be willing to support you and get a copy of your CD.
This step is paramount to ensuring you do not lose insane amounts of money. This step also forces you to be realistic and ask yourself whether or not you are ready for this.
If the maximum number of people willing to buy your CD, multiplied by the maximum amount of money people would be willing to pay for it is a number lower than your overhead cost you are in trouble,
because you either need more fans or you need to spend less money on your CD and potentially sacrifice the quality of the music you are looking to achieve.
So you need to be sure of what you want and whether or not it’s worth it (refer to point 2). But hey at least now you know it. Knowing your maximum profit gives you a rough idea of how much you can afford to spend on this venture before you reach the point where you are almost destined to lose money, which you probably do not want.
Last but not least, take it easy. You will make mistakes, shit will happen, you do not have control over everything that happens, try to take it all in stride and accept what you cannot avoid as a learning experience. This is your first recording experience but it doesn’t have to be your last. Let it mold you and help you grow and you’ll be moving on to more awesome things in no time! I hope I’ve made some helpful points.