Friday, October 21, 2011

5 Tips For Saving Money In The Studio: Tip #1

This week, I will be bringing you my top 5 tips on saving money in the recording studio. Each day for the next five days, I will present a new tip that is based directly on my observations and experiences with the many artists I have worked with in the studio over the years. Hopefully these suggestions will help make your next recording experience as fruitful and cost-efficient as possible.

 Tip #1: Choose The Right Studio

Most artists out there would no doubt love to record their next project in a premier recording studio working with Grammy winning engineers and producers. But if you can afford to do that, you are either independently wealthy or already signed to a lucrative recording contract. Either way, you probably wouldn't be reading a blog about saving money in the studio. So what about the rest of you out there? Most independent artists are working on tight recording budgets and need to stretch every dollar as far as it can go, and there are a ton of smaller studios out there vying for your money. So how do you know which to choose?

It's easy to get hung up on price point when checking out studios, but the thing you must keep in mind is that you are not shopping for a new pair of shoes, you are looking for someone who is going to provide an important service. Both the engineer and the facility will play an enormous role in how your project turns out, so it pays to find someone who takes their job seriously and has the knowledge and the resources necessary to give you great quality recordings. A quick look at Craigslist will reveal dozens of so-called "studios" advertising dirt cheap rates that seem too good to be true, and in my experience, they usually are. I can't begin to tell you how many clients have come to me to rescue a recording project after getting in bed with one of these "shade tree engineers" that either took on a project that was beyond their capability, or got bored halfway through and went MIA, leaving the artist stranded with a bunch of poor quality and/or unfinished recordings. In either case, the client lost money by going to the wrong place before they went to the right one. (For the record, no decent studio will record your demo for $20 a song. If you see someone advertising that kind of rate, run like hell.)

So do your homework before you choose a studio. Talk to the engineer at length to get a feel for their level of professionalism. Listen to demos of their previous work, but don't be wowed just because they managed to spit out a couple of decent sounding tracks. Make sure that they are familiar with your particular style of music, and that you click with them both personally and creatively. You will spend many hours working side by side with this individual, so it helps if they get what it is you are trying to do musically, and that you can stand to be around them for more than a few minutes without wanting to choke them. And remember that not all studios are designed to handle all kinds of projects. Some are set up to handle full bands, while others are geared more toward working one on one with single artists or vocal groups. Take a look on their website (they DO have a website, right?) for an equipment list. This will give you a  good idea of whether a studio has the resources to handle your type of project or not. And while you're on their website, look to see if they have any testimonials from previous clients. Or, if you know anyone that has recorded there, talk to them about their experience and ask to listen to the recordings that came out of their sessions.

Few decisions will impact your bottom line or the overall quality of your project as much as where you choose to record. And narrowing down your choices can be a daunting task, but it may be the most important decision you make, so don't rush it. Take your time, do your homework, and get quotes from several studios. And don't just settle for a quoted hourly rate. Ask them how long it will take to record your project. It can often cost more to record at a studio with a cheaper rate if it takes them longer to finish the job.


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