So you’ve written some songs, maybe played a few shows, and now people are asking “Where can I get the album?” You’re excited that people enjoy your music so much that they want to hear it over and over again! But how do you create an album?
Unless you plan on spending years developing your skills as an engineer, let’s assume you’re going to use a professional studio because, as we’ve mentioned before, there is no substitution for years of experience, no matter how nice the gear is. So the next question is:
How do I choose a recording studio?
Several factors go into making the right choice but here are the 3 most important keys:
Recording an album can be quite an undertaking; you often can wind up spending hundreds of hours with the people you’re working with on the project. I know from personal experience that people skills have huge impact, regardless of the industry. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who used an expensive studio and the engineer just didn’t seem to be into the music. Make sure you are working with the right people and they will bring out the best in you and your album. No one likes to work with a jerk, no matter how much he/she may know (or thinks he knows).
I’ve worked in several studios over the years. Some have had more gear than others, some have had bigger spaces than others, but the one thing that really separates the best from the rest is the experience of the engineer. I learned recording and mixing both through the painful process of trial and error (and trying to re-invent the wheel), and through the less painful process of mentoring with other great engineers. It’s taken almost a decade, and I still have much more to learn. This is why most people’s home recordings don’t sound quite the way they’d like. It has much less to do with the gear (though there are advantages to having high quality gear) and room (I have heard some great recordings come from less than perfect rooms) and everything to do with how well you can use the equipment and space you have.
Pay for people, not gear. If you can afford to spend the money on the best people and equipment then more power to you, but most people don’t have those kinds of resources. In fact, the majority of bands and artists usually end up borrowing the money (typically from a record label) to pay for the producer, engineer and studio and then owe those huge sums of cash to whoever loaned them the money. The good news is you don’t need to spend your life savings if you know how to shop for the right studio. If the studio has a big enough space for your project and a couple of nice mics that’s really all you need for a great recording as long as you’ve got an engineer/producer who knows what he/she is doing. Most engineers charge relatively little compared to the studio they typically work in so if you can find an inexpensive studio and a great engineer/producer you can get some pretty fantastic results.
If what you are looking for is a quality album for all your adoring fans, you want to invest in a studio that has great people with lots of experience at an affordable price. If you are looking for that kind of studio then check out RCR Recording Studios.
Cary Crichlow, Senior Producer and Engineer
RCR Recording Studios