So you want to record your own music? Maybe you’ve been a long-time musician that wants to save cash by producing your own songs. But where do you start? We’ve outlined some ideas below in our beginners guide to recording music.
Creating a home studio is one option. You don’t need to spend thousands to do this, simply having decent production software is a great way to produce music (and usually pretty cheap). Times have changed, you used to need all sorts of expensive equipment to record music which is not the case anymore.
Obviously building a studio with all the bells and whistles is an option if you have the budget, but most independent artists don’t. Music software has come a long way, it now has full-featured digital mixers built right in and can sound very professional! For a small investment into some decent equipment such as a microphone, preamp and audio interfaces yo can make a start.
Don’t think that just because you have all the right equipment and gear you’re going to make millions, It just doesn’t happen that way. You ‘ll need to learn how to use all the kit correctly which can definitely take time (though it is fun and great experience!). Having musical talent is important for production but this doesn’t mean you have to be amazing with instruments.
You should consider a studio as a musical instrument and like an instrument, you need to constantly practice to become good. The best producers in the world were not an overnight success. They devoted their time and lives to craft, constantly evolving and honing there skills. In your studio you will have three roles- musician, engineer and producer. You will need to build up a vast knowledge base and learn by experience. Modern studio software tools have the same names and function the same as it’s real life counterparts. Big studios have reverbs, delays, limiters, equalizers, compressors etc. Most modern music production software has all of these. Producers know how to use all of these tools in conjunction with one another.
It can be confusing shopping for recording equipment. You should shop around before making a purchase. You can usually find good discounts online. Also if you get to know people in local music stores, they can share there knowledge with you and may even give you discount for equipment. If you are trying to save cash you can always find second hand equipment in places such as ads in magazines or auction sites. Be aware if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is!
If having a home studio isn’t for you, or you need help in the creative process you might want to consider hiring a studio. A good studio doesn’t have to have the latest and greatest equipment to be a good place to make music in. It should have a creative feel to it. You will more than likely be spending a lot of time in there so you should make sure you and everyone else are comfortable with each other.
Do your research on various studios in your area. Maybe look at some reviews or speak to someone who has used the studios you are interested in. You could browse through the Yellow Pages, Gumtree or check out music store noticeboards.
It may be a good idea to ask the studio staff if you can borrow or hire equipment. If you’re not very experienced with music production then ask a friend or someone you know in the industry to go along with you to take a look around. After you’ve checked out a few places and decided your favourite (or most suitable – these most likely won’t be the same! TIP: Always choose the most suitable over favorite) studio you want to record in, don’t go handing over any cash straight away. Go home and think about it , it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement and make rash decisions. If you feel it’s still a good decision after some time then book it.
When you have decided on a studio you should meet with the engineer who you will be working with. You should discuss what you want from your sessions and it is important you get on well together. If you are not on the same level your music may suffer.
Always check the small print of studio policies as you can soon rack up a huge bill. Some places charge extra for services such as recording backups, CD’s or hiring equipment. Also check what is considered a ‘day’ in the studio. This is different for lots of studios as some state a day is 12 hours and if you stay longer you will be charged extra. Sometimes you may be able to get free studio time or a discount! There may be trainee engineers that are willing to help you out as they want to expand there portfolio, so keep an eye out for anyone who can help!