Recording Master or Demo of Your Own

If you have decided to take a proactive approach and make your own CD or demo, you will definitely want to read this. Making a demonstration recording or a full-blown master recording will involve a number of important issues. After all, this recording can make or break your career, so you shouldn't take it lightly. Also, making good-sounding recordings isn't as easy as it looks, much less as easy as it sounds.

If you plan to release your CD by yourself, you will need to consider a number of other steps. Whether you are making a master or a demo, you need to pick a studio, negotiate a price, get a contract, know your completion date, and figure out what it's going to take to get to that point, and many, many more issues. You also want to think about who is going to produce and/or engineer your CD or demo, and how much that will cost. If you decide to put out your own record, you need to set up your business correctly, obtain all the proper clearances, get the rights to any artwork, include appropriate credits, and a host of other issues. In short, making your own full-blown CD or demo is a rather large investment in your career and should not to be taken lightly.

Of course, if you have been lucky enough to sign a record deal, the label will advance you the money for your recording. You'll have very little control over the actual budget, though. The label will pick the producer, and the producer will pick the studio, engineer, etc. Plus, you will be expected to pay back every penny spent on your behalf. Even if you haven't been lucky enough to sign a major record deal, don't let that discourage you from giving it your best shot or trying to make the next hit record! You'll never know unless you try, and these days it's a lot more affordable than you might think.

Home recording studios are cropping up all over the place due to the proliferation of new technologies, especially hard disk recording on home computers. These home studios can compete with larger studios that have the most state-of-the-art gear, due to home computers' incredible versatility and ease of use, and the great sound of digitally aided recordings. In most instances, these home studios can offer much better rates while still delivering radio-ready recordings. Home studios or smaller recording facilities don't necessarily need to pay commercial real estate rates for the rent, lease, or purchase of a place to record, nor the extra expenses that many commercial studios have to pay, such as increased insurance, phone, electric, etc. Therefore, some of these smaller studios can give you a quality product for less money.

Commercial rates are always much, much higher. The major recording studios always have to “keep up with the Joneses.” They need to buy the latest, the greatest, and the most expensive gear to attract major recording artists, and also to justify their incredibly high fees. On the other hand, many people have converted their garages, basements, or rooms in their homes into basic recording studios, and therefore can offer very affordable rates with a very high-quality sound. With just a single isolation booth or two, you can record drums, bass (direct), guitar (direct and/or with amp), and keyboards (direct) on basic tracks with very little bleedthrough, and then overdub the rest of the tracks later. With digital editing, automated mixing, etc., a home computer can give you a really professional sound. There are plenty of songs on the radio that have been recorded at home studios.

Of course, you could always buy your own studio equipment, computer, hardware, software, microphones, and microphone preamps, and make your own records right in your own home. However, the learning curve for many of these software applications is quite steep. If you don't have much computer experience, it could be a long time before you can actually make decent-sounding recordings. Making studio-quality, radio-ready recordings is no small task. It can take months if not years to learn the ins and outs of recording before you can put out something that sounds good enough to shop around. Remember, if you shop bad material, you probably won't e able to go back to that company or contact person again. If you don't have your own studio and aren't planning on buying the equipment, you need to put some serious thought into picking a studio.

If you are really serious about a career as a recording artist, or want to start your own record label, nothing is more important than making quality recordings. Even if you have great songs, it won't matter if they're not recorded well. Make sure that you pick the right studio, the right engineer or producer, and the right equipment, and learn as much as you can about the recording process. Make sure that you and your band are completely prepared before you go into the recording studio, and the whole process will go a lot smoother.

You'll need to get your material mastered professionally if you expect to be competitive. Make sure that you take care of the legal and business end of making CDs, starting your own label, or trying to get a record deal, and you won't have anything come back to haunt you.

If you can't get a record deal, make sure that you can raise the capital, stick to a budget, and reserve cash for manufacturing, marketing, and promotions, and you will stand a much better chance of making money. You should be able to make at least enough to afford to do your next record. However, if you don't have an overall business plan, you could end up with thousands of really expensive CDs collecting dust in your closet.

One thing is for sure: If you don't take a chance and buy a ticket, you won't ever hit the lottery!