Too much precious money gets flushed down the studio drain –says Wes Maebe
When you’ve made the decision to pay for a professional studio you don’t want to waste your money.
And I’ve seen some money being wasted.
There was a time when record labels threw budgets around by the truckload.
You could spend years in the studio to write the album, rehearse, record and mix…and then decide to go into another studio to record a singular triangle hit because the studio you’d just spent 4 years in didn’t have quite the right vibe or purple carpets.
These times are no longer around.
There’s the occasional success story, but in general the labels won’t even touch you if you haven’t already got a massive following, been touring solidly for a few years and have a finished product to sell.
-And that finished product is a superbly produced album, mastered and complete with the artwork.
Artist development seems to be an art form from the past. The people who sign you are reporting back to the bean counters.
And those bean counters are leaning on everybody possible to make the product (you’re no longer referred to as the artist!) cost effective and look good on the balance sheet.
In other words, it’s down to you to stomp up the cash to pay for your rehearsal and composition time -and you’ll have to get your material recorded, mixed and mastered.
So here are my top three tips for saving your money
* Work out your budget and go for the best facility your money can buy.
A studio that looks like a bargain may have sub-standard/poorly maintained equipment or inexperienced staff –both of which can be big time-wasters. And time is money in a studio. Make a shortlist of facilities you like the look of and go in to have a look and a listen. Meet the people and get a feel for the place. The studio is going to be the most important part of your life whilst you’re in record/mix mode.
* Ask these questions to make sure you know the costs that are involved
Here are some of the questions to get you started: What do we get for our money? Is it based on a 10 or 12 hour day or is it a 24 hour lock out? What DAW (digital audio workstation) are you using, Pro Tools, Logic, Nuendo etc? Ensure that if you’re bringing in backing tracks, that the software versions are compatible. Does the studio come with an assistant? If we want to take rough mixes home, do we have to pay for the blank cds? Always ask if they can provide you with an instrument list, you never know there may be some cool stuff knocking around. Do keep in mind that sometimes you’ll have to pay extra for that.
* Consider your own engineer.
You can do preproduction together enabling your engineer to get familiar with the material. This will save valuable time once the red light goes on. It always helps if you can be in the live room without having to worry about the technical side of things. You’re there to make a record and focus on pouring your heart out into these songs—not to stress about which mic to use.
Of course the best way to save money is to be well rehearsed.
Unless you have an inexhaustible budget, rehearse the songs with the production team.
Work out all the parts, fine tune the structure and arrangements before you hit the studio and when you get there you can focus on having fun and giving the best performance.
Enjoy your studio experience and when those heads on the other side of the glass are bobbing up and down, you’re doing good.