How to Get Your Music Recorded
So you have formed a band (or developed a solo act), written some amazing songs, practiced your brains out, and now you’re ready to get your music out to the public. The question is, how to get your music recorded?
Twenty or 30 years ago, your options would have been very limited. Unless you had a rich uncle or a record deal, the best you could hope for would be to crank out a modest demo at a local recording studio and hope that would be enough to convince a label to sign you. However, thanks to modern technology and the digital age, independent artists are now able to make high quality recordings for a lot less money, and many are able to record and distribute full-length albums on a modest budget. You now have more options for getting your music recorded than ever before. Here are a few ways to go about it, listed from least expensive to most expensive.
RECORD ON YOUR OWN GEAR
Among indie musicians, home studios are almost a given these days. Digital technology enables you to record high-quality audio directly to a laptop or desktop computer, and you can incorporate some very real-sounding virtual instruments and samples via MIDI, as well—all for a fraction of what it costs to record a full-length in a high-quality recording studio. (Beck even recorded his album Morning Phase in his own home studio, and the album went on to win a Grammy for Album of the Year!) Of course, you’ll get better results if you know how to run the gear, if your home studio is acoustically treated and if you buy the best gear and software that you can afford. But at the very least, you’ll be able to create a presentable recording that could pass as a decent demo, if not as an EP or LP.
COMBINE HOME RECORDING WITH STUDIO RECORDING
Many artists today (even a lot of the major label artists) like to do some of their pre-production work or partial recordings at home, then bring the tracks into the studio for fine tuning, for additional recording of tracks in a better acoustic environment, or for mixing the project. In other words, record what you can record at home, then take it to the studio for that parts that can’t be recorded well at home. This not only offers significant savings on the hourly rates of your local studio, but it also allows you the flexibility to record parts on your own time, rather than wait for the studio calendar to open up.
DO A SELF-FUNDED RECORDING IN A LOCAL STUDIO
Even with modern technology, there is still likely to be a limit to the quality you can produce in a home studio (unless you’re a professional audio engineer, of course). If you want your recorded music to be as competitive as possible, you may still want to go the route of recording the full project in the studio. Hourly rates vary among studios, from around $30/hour for smaller project studios to over $100/hour for state-of-the-art or in-demand recording studios. Many indie artists fund their records these days using crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
GET SIGNED TO A LABEL
Of course, if you have confidence, connections, tenacity and patience, you can always still try the traditional route of convincing a record label to sign you. You’ll still likely need a demo or a decent self-produced recording (and a strong fan base doesn’t hurt, either), but if you get signed, the label will fund your recording. In many cases, this budget will include a professional producer and access to some of the best (and most expensive) studios. These days, it’s sort of like playing the lottery to try to get signed, mainly because there’s so much competition, and because the labels don’t want to take risks on unproven acts. But with the right connections and a bit of luck, it can still be done.
As you can see, there are many more ways now to get your music recorded than there were a few years ago, and the path you choose will likely depend on your budget and resources. But the good news is, you no longer have to wait to be “discovered” to get your music out to the public and start winning fans. You can get started right in your own bedroom.