Right recording studio? – Part 3

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Eugene

In the previous posts I talked about my experiences in the music production and working with the famous guys, but what leads me to produce the next album at home?

After some shows, which went not really well and after I kicked out our drummer, I said, it’s time to focus on the new stuff and prepare it for the studio production. It was also a good time to take the vocal lessons as well.

The questions were the same – where? when? how? and how much? And again I started to put some money aside and searching for the biggest studio in the world. hahah

*** all prices are approximate.

 

Recording

At that time Mario, my bass player, built a small studio / rehearsal room at home in his basement and every week we met each other for a session. The idea was to prepare the songs for the studio: which sound we want to achieve, how many effects we want, do we keep the same song structure and arrangement from my drafts or not, where and how I could sing on the songs, and what goes and what not.

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Actually we made it just for fun. But we were really surprised, how great the sound can be. After every session the songs and sound became better and better. We have no time pressure and can be really creative because of this free space. If something didn’t work, there were no problem at all… we could go back to the song  later and try something different.

After so successful sessions I started asking me – do we really need to produce the album in the studio and spend a lot of money for that?

  1. We love the sound we’ve got;
  2. We are very creative and have much time for experiments and rearranging the songs if needed;
  3. We can follow and realise my vision of the music and how it should sound like;
  4. We can mix the songs by ourselfs;
  5. And it’s all for free!

I thought, we can achieve the good sound in the prof. studio and with prof. equipment only – bull shit. There’re so many software nowadays, so it’s possible to get a cool sound at home without any amps or analog FXs.

All you need are:

  1. Computer or Laptop with a good sound card;
  2. Audio interface;
  3. Software and couple of plugins;
  4. Monitor Boxes;
  5. Your instruments;
  6. Creative head.

Mostly it takes time to set up all the plugins to achieve a good sound and to find your own sound, but a bit patience and your creative head make it possible. Sometimes even the cheapest plugin can give a great result (to be honest, it’s seldom).

Small budget – so what?

On average one day in the middle-class studio (mostly about 8 hours, if you a kind person maybe you can work there 10-12 hours long) costs 300-400 €. For recording of an album (e.g. 12 songs) you will need about 2 weeks. When you’re very good – maybe 10 days. So the recording only will cost you about 3000-4000 € (in case, it’s going nicely). As I recorded guitars for „Trigger“, a fuse of my amp is blown and it took about 4 hours to fix it (a long story…) In such cases you have to book one or two studio-days more.

But you CAN record your stuff with a small budget. Even if you have money and put it all in the production – who cares? In my opinion, I’d rather invest in my own equipment once, than pay every time thousands of euros for a new record.

And again – who cares? The people are listening to mp3 nowadays. Who cares, that you use an analog mixer, 5 amps and 6 mics for one of five guitars? Who cares about complex mixing process? Who cares, that you didn’t have a vacation for the last five years, just because you needed money for the new record?

Mixing

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The mixing would cost also pretty much money (middle-class studio in GER, 1200-2500 € for an album) and in the end it all boils down to the fact that you’re sitting near engineer and saying him, how the songs should sound like OR you write many E-Mails and try to describe the sound you want to in the different parts of the song.

In case with David Bottrill that was not a problem. 4 or 5 times I wrote down the whole sheet of comments for each song and the next day I already had the new version of it. It worked just perfect! Some of our ideas can’t be implemented because of the specifics of our recording, but was really happy with the result.

But it can go an other way – that you try and try to describe some parts and sounds, but the dude can’t understand you. In this case you have three options: 1) to say „fuck it“ and to try to live with the bad mix; 2) to pay more, so the guy could spend more time and send you the mix no. 20; 3) or to find an other guy or a studio and to pay for the new mix again.

Clear vision!

When you have a clear vision of your music and a bit experience, you don’t need any facilitators. You are free and you can make so many mixes you want, go back to the song one week later and change something – you are the boss.

The best example is the band Muse. Okay, the guys are recording their music in the greatest studios of the world, but they produce it by theirselves. The engineers are playing a secondary role and the guys are sitting in the control room, recording each other, experimenting a lot and making a rough mix – for me it’s the same just not in the biggest studio of the world, but at home. For me it’s the best way how it works – without any facilitators.

Mastering

Mastering could be less painful for your wallet, but also expensive as well, depends on who will make it (500 – 1500 € for an album, middle-class studio). There are two options possible: the mastering brings the album to the life or you notice no changes at all.

With David Bottrill was the option no. 1. At some moment I felt like „this is it“. This was exactly what I was looking for. We noticed, how the songs have been changed and got more beautiful face.

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There is always a risk, that it goes wrong way. As we recorded „SR“ one guy came to the studio and said to me, he can master my songs very professional and for less money. After 3 days I’ve got the album and all he changed was the volume! haha The songs were just a bit louder… I’ve never seen that guy again. Fortunately I didn’t pay him.

iZo­tope Ozone 8 Advanced, which is very good for mastering, costs about 350 €. Invest a bit more time to build a good presets and use them for your music years long.

Conclusion:

So, when you summarize the costs, the release of an album will cost you about 7000 € + additional costs for CD-design, pressing plant, distribution and promotion! Do you really want to go this way? Are you sure, you can get the money back by celling CDs and playing the shows in some local venues?

If yes, just go for it!

If no, spend this money for your home studio or band promotion, or for traveling at least. Just take some time for thinking about your music, your equipment and what you can get out of it. And again, don’t rely on the studio – there is no help for you.

With regards to record labels – they will offer you a deal not because of your music or a great person you are or the recording quality, but because of the audience you already have. This is the key. Your chances without a large fan base are pretty low, doesen’t matter what kind of music you make and how good your album sounds. They will just your audiense – at least it’s the business. But when you already built a quite stable fan base – why do you need a label at all? – but this is an other theme.

Anyway, when you make a great music, the people will like it, doesn’t matter where and how it has been recorded! Keep working and never give up!

Eugene.