So you're a musician, and you would like to record your own music... you feel like you're ready to put yourself out there. You are ready to show the world your art... but where to begin?
These days, recording music can be done in the comfort of your own home, where you want and when you want. Long gone are the days of booking studio time in a dedicated recording studio with professional equipment and professional personnel. There is no question that you can accomplish the goal of writing, producing and recording your own music, completely on your own, DIY. But there are most definitely some facts you need to take into consideration when deciding to go this direction, and I will explain those here:
Do I have what it takes to get the job done?
These days, recording to a computer is as easy as downloading music from iTunes!! You have so many options for cheap interfaces (wait... what is an interface?), microphones and recording programs, like Garage Band!
Ok, let's start at the beginning. An audio interface is a piece of hardware that connects to your computer and allows you to connect a microphone and speakers. A microphone usually requires a special cable called an XLR cable. If you would like to connect speakers (or monitors as they are called in our world), you'll need a couple stereo 1/4 inch cables. Confused yet? Here is the first reason why a pro is helpful. We know what's needed to get the job done, and we probably already have what's needed to get the job done. Anyways, you can always do your research on Google, and figure it all out, or you can just worry about playing/jamming/rocking out and leave it up to us. Audio interfaces provide high quality pre-amplification for your microphone or guitar, and as I mentioned, there are a ton to choose from. Some work better than others, some work with Mac or Windows better than others, but it all depends. Recording Programs? What kind of artist are you? What kind of music do you make? There are a dozen or more professional digital audio workstations (DAWs) to choose from, and some cater more towards the rock, while others are designed for EDM. Do you want your voice to sound like Taylor Swift/Justin Beiber?.... I'm sure there is a $4237 dollar microphone for that. Do you want to properly record that 14 piece drum kit? Here is another reason why a studio is ideal. We will have the microphones, stands and cables and audio inputs to capture your kit properly... a $99 dollar audio interface just won't cut it....
2. Is Your Music Ready?
This is most important if your are being charged by the hour in a studio... Is your music prepared and ready to record? Often times, musicians will schedule recording time in a studio and not be fully prepared to record the song. Of course this could be a demo, where the song could use some fine tuning and rearranging, but for the most part, you should be prepared to print your music with not- much work. If not, you could waste valuable money and time hashing out what could have been taken care of in rehearsal beforehand. Come musically prepared.
3. Make Sure Your Instruments Are Ready!
This is another very important topic on recording. Let's say you're a guitar player and you're sure you are ready to record. Your strings are 3 years old and out of tune, but you're sure about laying down some tracks..... Well, ok.... but I really suggest you make some changes. If you are about to permanently record your hard earned song, change your strings and make sure they are properly stretched before recording time. Take the time to tune your guitar perfectly with a quality tuner or in the studio, because an out of tune guitar makes the Care Bears sad....
We are looking at you drummers here too!! You have a much harder job here as well. Make sure you invest in new batter heads for a recording, tuned and stretched properly. A good sounding drum kit is the root of a good song. Without you, all is lost....
4. Are You Prepared For Changes?
Depending on if you're recording your music independently, or in a studio, chances are someone will have something to say about how things are going. Most professional studios and artists employ a producer to help with the recording process. It's important to know that there are a few "different" types of producers... One type of producer is the type who is the coach of sorts, the person who calls the plays and changes to a song to make it better. There can be disagreements and different points of view, but it really is constructive criticism... always try to keep an open mind. The other type of producer the the type that "Creates" the music. They produce the music for other artists to sing/perform along to, and those are the producers that get the Grammy awards. Are you the next Grammy Nominated producer? I think so....
5. Do you know how to make YOU sound good?
This is the most important part of this blog. I'll be totally honest here, but you're only as good as your weakest link. Can you polish a turd? Mythbusters seems to think they did, but if it's crap going into a recording, it's going to be crap coming out.... That's just the truth. This is why rule number 2 and 3 are quite important. Once the dirty deed is done, it's up to a competent someone to polish your work into a masterpiece!! From my personal experience, few obtain the ability to magically perfect an album mix with little experience. The help of a seasoned audiophile engineer can tweek, tune, eq, compress and process your recording into a radio/itunes/spotify ready track! Audio engineers often have the skills and tools that would take you years and money to achieve... we are here to get the job done for you!!!
I hope this was an insightful blog about the basics of recording and if you are indeed ready to take the first step. Always feel free to contact us if you have any questions about recording, engineering or general questions. Cheers~!