When it comes to sound recordings, I’m often flabbergasted by how much money, time and effort many artists expend unnecessarily. How many songs you should record for a project and how much you should consider spending really depends on what your end objectives are for it. Believe it or not, for some purposes in this business your recording needn’t be done in a studio at all, and that can save you plenty.
So, this means that before you start recording or even consider booking that recording studio it’s wise to step back and think about what purposes(s) you want the project to serve.
If your main reason for doing it is to get gigs, you’d be better off recording your act live, whether at an actual public performance, at home or in the studio. That’s going to be far less expensive than doing a multi-track production, especially for a band, and very probably a truer representation of what your music would be like when performed at gigs, which is what booking agents and hiring parties want to hear. And the neat thing is that you only need representative samplings from your repertoire. Most acts could get away with a three or four-minute demo consisting of relatively brief excerpts from a few songs that reflect the range of material they do. Of course, when it comes to most types of acts, agents and hiring parties also need to get an idea of how they come across on stage, so you’d likely want to have a companion live performance video as well, but that’s the subject for another article.
Who else might not require studio-quality productions and need just a few songs from you to perk their interest? Publishers whose main focus is acquiring song material for other artists to cover; managers and labels that work with raw talent; the music producer who needs to evaluate you and your song material before deciding whether to work with you on that upcoming album project you’re planning; production companies that provide newbie artists a basket of services; the music supervisor who has a call out for song material that he intends to re-produce for a specific project…well, you get the idea.
For most situations you don’t need a full album of material. For industry people a two or three-song demo of your best songs (not necessarily your latest) is usually enough to give us a sense of whether the artist or writer is potentially of interest. Radio doesn’t need it, online retailers selling digital files of music don’t need it, and even fans at gigs will be happy going home with an EP.
If, however, after careful consideration you’ve decided for whatever reason to do a studio-quality production of an album’s worth of material, then you will need to hire a producer. You may not want to or think it necessary, but unless you’re content seeing the final product limited to off-stage sales and CD Baby, that’s pretty much the truth of it. And I’m going tell you the reasons why in an upcoming blog on the music producer.