5 Tips to Save Money in the Recording Studio

5 Money Saving Tips

The good news is that it’s never been more affordable to have a high-quality recording. The bad news is that even given this affordability, some people still want to cut corners and lower costs. But here’s something to think about, dollar for dollar, sometimes cheaper isn’t cheaper.

This is your music and is a representation of yourself you want to be proud of. The whole world is listening. That’s why this week I wanted to throw out a few tips to help you save time and money getting the most out of your next trip to the studio.

1. Preparation

Nothing saves you money in the studio like being prepared.

Nothing saves you money like being prepared. Being efficient, practiced, and having your instruments in good shape before entering the studio can save you a boatload of money. Old heads, crappy strings, and lousy intonation are not your friends here.

Preproduction is something you should take full advantage of. Know the BPM of your songs especially if there are tempo changes, the more of this stuff mapped out, the better. Most modern digital audio workstations will allow you to export a tempo map from midi. This way the engineer doesn’t have to take the time do the mapping for you. A mockup of the song with some scratch tracks helps as well.

If you record with a click track in the studio, you should practice with it ahead of time.

So many things fall under the preparation category, just think of anything you can get done before going to the studio and try to complete as many of them as possible.

Preparation leads to nailing a performance, which leads to less time recording, which leads to less time editing, which saves you money.

Don’t Write In The Studio

This should go without saying but, it helps when you’ve written the songs before going to the studio. Figuring it out in the studio will cost you money. Sure, when inspiration hits you should run with it, but just beware that it can cost you more money than having it figured out ahead of time.

2. Understand The Larger Picture

Something I see often is that people have unrealistic expectations of what they can accomplish in the amount of time booked in the studio. Don’t think you will record an entire album in just a few hours. I’m sure it’s been done it, but these situations are the exception and not the rule.

Lump together activities when it makes sense.

Lump together activities when it makes sense. For example, if there are 10 songs to record, don’t record the drums for one song then come back again and record drums for more. Take advantage of the drum kit being set up, tuned, and mic’d. It takes a lot more time to setup and re-mic the kit again and again. Not to mention there is a reasonable possibility of the drums sounding different the next time. The same goes for guitar amps and other activities requiring additional setup.

You may be excited to get a single out, but the smart and cost-effective thing is to build a foundation for the larger picture.

3. Communication

This may surprise you, but many musicians aren’t good communicators. I can’t quite put my finger on why this is. It could be because they like to let their instruments do the talking. Regardless, strive for adequate communication with your engineers.

Ask questions ahead of time and communicate any gotchas.

Ask questions ahead of time and communicate any gotchas. Most studio owners are more than happy to give you feedback and guidance before your studio session. There may also be gotchas you have on your end too. For example, maybe you want to mic up a symphony orchestra or need to go to another studio to record a grand piano. Countless things can come up, and surprises aren’t good for either you or the studio.

If you haven’t decided on a studio ask the right questions. How is their attitude toward you? Your music? Too many studios nowadays treat artists like they are a production line, stamping the same presets on them and getting them out the door as soon as possible. Know what you want from your music, once again, the whole world is listening.

Be an excellent communicator but don’t blow up your engineer’s phone. They work in a recording studio and may be with customers that expect just as much attention as you.

4. The Studio is Fun, Not A Party

Don’t bring a bunch of extra friends, family, or whatever when you are recording. This isn’t a music video, the songs aren’t recorded yet. Additional people in the studio have a tendency to talk and can be a distraction for the whole process. Distractions take more time and cost more money.

Don’t party too hard the night before either. Having a hangover and trying to nail a performance can be a problem. I’m talking to you, drummers 🙂

We live in a social media, self-promotion world but know when you are affecting someone’s performance by taking pictures or shooting video. Even if a camera is placed in a stationary position, it could still affect someone’s ability to get good takes.

5. Cheaper Isn’t Necessarily Cheaper

In the studio world, cheaper isn’t always cheaper. Often the people you find on certain sites and the ones willing to work for what equates to less than minimum wage aren’t doing you or your music any favors.

Here’s something to think about, spending more hours at a lower hourly rate actually equals more money than fewer hours at a higher rate.

Flat Rate

Beware of flat-rate charges for everything but audio mastering. This is because they don’t scale. You have an unknown quantity of recording, editing, and mixing time. This needs to scale with the time to set up, record, get good takes, and how many tracks are in each song. Also how different the instrumentation can be from song to song.

Why is this a bad thing? Everyone likes an exact number right?

Well, its because someone always ends up suffering and quite often it’s you, the artist. The customer has a compromised product that someone rushed through because they didn’t have enough time to do it right. Get some skin in the game, this is your music and your vision. Make the impression you want with both.

Like most things, there can be some exceptions to this, but it takes a certain amount of known quantities or someone who charges enough to always get the job done. This also comes with hooks and exclusions up front, like all the tracks will already be mix ready by the time they are received, which quite often they are not.

The End

Hopefully, this post gave you some things to think about as you are planning your next studio adventure. Being efficient and knowing what you are looking to accomplish will not only save you time but money as well.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to hear more about what we do check us out. See you next time.


info {at} freqzone.com

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