Amazing Tips on Budget Recording for Indie Artists
Being an indie artist can be hard. The one thing all indie artists have in common is knowing how strenuous and stressful being an indie artist can be. It definitely has its rewards, but getting to the rewarding part is a journey. Any and every tip you can receive to make the journey a bit more easier is very useful. One of the most important aspects of indie artists lives are their recordings. Whether you’re an independent singer, songwriter or rapper you have to record your music. Recording your music can also be one of the most expensive aspects of your independent career. No manager or major label financing your project. However, there are ways around this aspect of your career as an independent songwriter. Here are 5 amazing tips on how to professionally record your music on a budget as an indie artist.
Time is money – Waste no time
As cliche as it may sound when people say “time is money” it’s so true. Time is certainly money. Time is actually more than money, it’s life. Everything in our lives revolves around time. With that being said one of the most effective ways you’ll save money recording as an indie artist is to utilize your time correctly. The biggest factor that makes studio recording expensive is the fact that you’re charged by the hour. This means the more hours you record the more it will cost. Of course this is common sense. However, truly understanding and applying this method is another thing. A lot of indie artists get in the recording studio and waste a lot of time. This will costs more in the long run. The best way to professionally record in a timely and effective manner is to follow these steps:
- Have a list ready of all the songs you’re going to record. (If you’re only going to record only 1 song then skip this step.)
- Practice, practice, practice your songs at home before hand. Practice the technique, the vocal production and timing. This way when you get into the studio you have the song mastered and don’t have to do as many takes
- Don’t spend a lot of time explaining your vision to the producer/engineer during your studio session. This should be pre-discussed before you recording session (maybe a day or 2)
- Make sure there are no distractions or unnecessary parties in your studio session
Working with no more than 2 producers
You ever heard of the saying “if it isn’t broke don’t try to fix it?” This is so true. When it comes to recording and saving money as an indie artist you shouldn’t work with no more than 2 producers (ideally 1). Find 1-2 producers/engineers that you really work well with and make him or her your go-to when it comes to performing. If you two relationship works well and they do a good job with producing your music why go elsewhere? If it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Some indie artists whether a indie pop artists, R&B or indie rapper make the mistake of working with various producers. For 1 song they may work with a producer they know. For their next 2 songs they may work with a producer they were referred. Then for the remaining songs they may work with a producer they found out about via social media or online. This will ultimately cost more money in the future. Most producers have their own individual prices. So now you’re jumping around from 1 budget to the next as you change producers. You may not have the same chemistry with 1 producer or engineer that you had with the previous. This will affect your recording, the quality may not be good and you may have to record all over again. This means dishing out more money for studio time. The best way to avoid these type of dilemmas is to simply find a producer and/or engineer you can build a true relationship with and work with him or her every time. Who knows after a while they may even give you a discount the more acquainted you 2 become and the more they appreciate your steady business.
Don’t rush it
Another way to quickly lose money as an indie artist when recording is by rushing the process. I, myself use to be guilty of this. I was so eager to record my songs and get the records out. A lot of times I would rush the recording session. I would rush the date. I would even rush the engineer in regards to mixing and mastering the songs. This never turned out good. It lowered the quality of the music. You could hear the lack of emotion in the song and I ended up having to record all over again. Moral to this is not to rush the recording session. You may think you’re saving time by doing a rush job. However, you’re actually wasting more money because you’ll have to start all over again. This means paying for another studio session. This means wasting more time. Ultimately when you rush it you end up being counter productive.
Don’t be afraid to ask for deals
Like any type of business most of the times there are deals and sales you can benefit off of. If you a music producer or recording studio you go to on a regular basis don’t be afraid to inquire about any specials. This isn’t to say you’re looking for special treatment. But a lot of times there are deals available you may know nothing about. Ask the producer/ engineer are there any recording deals going on? Is there a certain percentage or amount that comes off if I book over a certain number of hours for studio time? You’d be surprised how many studios or independent producers actually have a deal or something similar to this. They may even have a special where if you record 2 songs the mixing and mastering is free. This may not seem like a lot because it’s not a discount directly off of recording time. However, mixing and mastering takes time too and most engineers charge for it, so if you can get it for free it will greatly help.
Record your own songs
This last recording tip will only work for indie artists if you’re experienced and know what you’re doing. If you don’t know how to engineer then you’ll actually end up wasting time in the long run. However, if you have experience recording yourself, working systems such as Logic Pro X and Pro Tools then you can record yourself. This will help tremendously with studio time cost. If you’re not well equipped with mixing and mastering that’s fine. You can always record yourself (for free) then send your song to get mixed and mastered by an engineer. The engineer will charge you for the mix and mastering. However, you’re still saving because you didn’t have to pay 1-3 hours of studio time to record. You only paid for the mix and master which should only take about 1 hour. To record yourself at home and save money here’s a list of what you’ll need below:
- Laptop (doesn’t have to be brand new, can be used or relatively old)
- Software system installed on your laptop such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Apple Loops, etc.
- Microphone filter
- Audio interface
- Mic stand (optional)
- Something to protect the sound when recording (can be a DIY both made with sheets, a large blanket, foam material, etc.)
These studio recording tips will definitely save many indie artists money and time. They won’t make your recording dirt cheap because the reality is you have to pay for quality and good value. However, if you follow these tips and set up your own structure you will notice a huge change in your recording budget.
To learn more tips about the music business as an indie artists get my latest book “Mogul” here.