What is the greatest mystery about recording a record?

 Do I need a "RECORD DEAL"?  How much does it cost to go into a recording studio?  Can I do it myself at home? What if I don't have a band? I'm a Solo person, one guitar and a voice and I don't sing and play like James Taylor, is it possible to make a good record? I'm a Metal fan, how would I get those guitar sounds at home, by myself? Who should I talk to for advice? 

Back in the day, the majority of all records, if not all, came from the bowels of Capital Records, or Warner Brothers, or MCA, or XYZ RECORD COMPANY. Today, probably everyone of us has someone, somewhere in our extended family who has made a record and "released" a record. More commonly referred to as a CD, or ALBUM. Because I'm more "old school" I still call the finished product a "record."  Although that may or may not include a vinyl version. Bottom line, if you want to record a "record," you can. How that record will sound, I think, will depend on two things: 1) your ability as a singer and/or player, and 2) the level of technical expertise you have, or are willing to learn, or are able to hire. Let's call it TALENT and TOOLS. With more or less of either one of those, you can still make a good record. TALENT can make up for a Tool deficiency, and TOOLS can make up for a Talent deficiency. They work together, probably in varying ratios on every song you record. But don't be discouraged, you and I can probably count on one hand the number of Artists who have 100% of both. For me, an artist in that category would be Paul McCartney. You, undoubtedly have your own Artist in mind who has access to all the TALENT and TOOLS to make him or her sound fantastic. But honestly, as an Artist preparing to release a new "record," I don't live in that  world.

So what can YOU and I bring to the record party to not only equalize the odds but even take us over the top? TWO more ingredients I believe: 1) a HEART and LOVE for the music, and 2) COMMITMENT TO THE VISION. If you LOVE the music you make and are COMMITTED to that music being heard, then the MYSTERY can become REALITY.

The MYSTERY of making a record has undoubtedly declined with the advent of the digital age and the home studio. I'd like to suggest that's a good thing. Along with a decline in MYSTERY has sprung an INCREASE in accessibility. For me personally, I didn't have to travel to LA, Nashville, or NY to find a studio with the latest TOOLS and expertise. I didn't have to send off demos to record company execs hoping that someone would listen and take me in, or play 225 dates a year at the Tiki Bar waiting for a vacationing  Artist Relations person to wander in and "discover" me.  I rather choose to write some songs, and then surround myself with talented people. Let me share their names: Pat Bautz, Howard Laravea, Anna Lusk, Mary Kate Brennan, Marvin Parish, Smith Curry, Andre Follot, Jonathan Wyner,  Steve Lomazzo, and Steve Dore. If I allow myself to ponder the MYSTERY of Who I Am...with you, (the title of my new record) I might wonder how the stars aligned to bring these fantastic people into my musical life. But the REALITY is this, I LOVE  the making of the music and I am committed to the SHARING of that music. That tells me, it had to happen. Let's go make a record!


 

1 comment

  • Johnny Kee

    Johnny Kee

    So much has happened in just the last two decades to bring audio (and video) recording into reach of musicians, that there is now a bargain basement level that can produce reasonably good results with an investment of very little money but much desire and dedication to learning. For example, even though I've bought versions of the well known and respected DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), my primary mixing tool is the open source, free program called Audacity. Mics like the ubiquitous Shure SM58 are available for under $100, and decent clones from reputable manufacturers for maybe a third less. All the tools for a first project are attainable for a couple hundred bucks. But what is more important, is learning how to use them to get the best results. With proper knowledge, a bargain basement investment in money can provide pretty decent results. On the other hand, an investment in more "professional" tools won't produce as good a result without that knowledge. The good news is that there are many sources from which to gain that knowledge. There are numerous good books available aimed at the home recording studio, most of which are written by professional recording engineers who can "talk down" to beginners who don't know all the technical jargon. There are now numerous on-line sources of blogs, articles, and such. To me, as valuable has been willing friends, like Ken, who will listen to what you are doing and offer honest critiques and suggestions. I come at recording from an engineering background, with 45+ years of software and systems engineering. By habit, I plan projects out in detail and work to get it right the first time. My biggest obstacle in my recordings has been in overcoming that mentality to do less planning for perfection and more planning a framework for a project and more planning to do more experimenting and throwing out bad ideas and efforts. I told another friend that I had "mic fright". I wanted to be sure I was ready to do the final track before hitting the record button. That's crazy! I'm getting better at hitting the record button, and then the erase button if it doesn't work out. That is the advantage of doing my own recording on my home system. I'm sure that if I were paying for studio time, I'd be more inclined to revert to my engineering approach. Ken, in your new project, you are making a major leap from your home studio to a professional studio. You're making a major leap in the skill of the recording, mixing, and mastering engineers' expertise. You're making a major leap in the musical skills of the people backing you up on the recordings. You've also made a major leap in marketing with your new Facebook page, website, blog, etc. From the "early mix" releases you have done, this new CD will be something else! You know I love your earlier CDs, but it is obvious that you've made a conscious decision to up your game and, brother, you're following through on that commitment with truly great results. And I really appreciate all the help you've given me.

    So much has happened in just the last two decades to bring audio (and video) recording into reach of musicians, that there is now a bargain basement level that can produce reasonably good results with an investment of very little money but much desire and dedication to learning. For example, even though I've bought versions of the well known and respected DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), my primary mixing tool is the open source, free program called Audacity. Mics like the ubiquitous Shure SM58 are available for under $100, and decent clones from reputable manufacturers for maybe a third less.

    All the tools for a first project are attainable for a couple hundred bucks. But what is more important, is learning how to use them to get the best results. With proper knowledge, a bargain basement investment in money can provide pretty decent results. On the other hand, an investment in more "professional" tools won't produce as good a result without that knowledge. The good news is that there are many sources from which to gain that knowledge. There are numerous good books available aimed at the home recording studio, most of which are written by professional recording engineers who can "talk down" to beginners who don't know all the technical jargon. There are now numerous on-line sources of blogs, articles, and such. To me, as valuable has been willing friends, like Ken, who will listen to what you are doing and offer honest critiques and suggestions.

    I come at recording from an engineering background, with 45+ years of software and systems engineering. By habit, I plan projects out in detail and work to get it right the first time. My biggest obstacle in my recordings has been in overcoming that mentality to do less planning for perfection and more planning a framework for a project and more planning to do more experimenting and throwing out bad ideas and efforts. I told another friend that I had "mic fright". I wanted to be sure I was ready to do the final track before hitting the record button. That's crazy! I'm getting better at hitting the record button, and then the erase button if it doesn't work out. That is the advantage of doing my own recording on my home system. I'm sure that if I were paying for studio time, I'd be more inclined to revert to my engineering approach.

    Ken, in your new project, you are making a major leap from your home studio to a professional studio. You're making a major leap in the skill of the recording, mixing, and mastering engineers' expertise. You're making a major leap in the musical skills of the people backing you up on the recordings. You've also made a major leap in marketing with your new Facebook page, website, blog, etc. From the "early mix" releases you have done, this new CD will be something else! You know I love your earlier CDs, but it is obvious that you've made a conscious decision to up your game and, brother, you're following through on that commitment with truly great results. And I really appreciate all the help you've given me.

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