What To Know...
Casual recording generally for fun with no emphasis on perfection or interest in retail or commercial purposes.
Usually these types of recording are for personal use or for the purpose of structuring a song that you might record for real later on down the road. These recordings sometimes include bringing in a karaoke cd and simply adding vocals to it for a quick and professional sounding result since the music is already recorded for you.You might give a few copies of the recording to friends and reletives but in general, are not meant for retail or commercial purposes. This type of recording project usually ranges from 30 minutes to an hour per song in studio time.
Demo or short-run CD project for the purpose of getting concert bookings or showing off your songs to interested parties.
Typically, a short run or demo CD is used to showcase your ability to other entities, that if interested, might desire to develop a working relationship with you. This could be you submitting your songs to a talent agent or other soliciting agency. It might also be recordings that you use in the promotional info you send to perspective clubs or venues that you want to perform at. In any event, typically, the level of engineering and "fine-tuning" required for these endeavors is far less than when you want to release a full-blown retail product. A studio may elect to do a simple two microphone ambient setup and let the whole band play to capture the energy, while keeping the bill to a minimum. Most demo and short run CDs include 3-5 songs, which can generally be recorded and mixed to an acceptable level within 2-4 hours per song. This can be a very cost effective direction to choose if you are new to the studio environment, or if your checkbook is currently thinner than you might like it to be. Your product is generally duplicated to CD-R's, with standard inkjet labels and CD jewel case inserts. Demos usually range from 30 minutes to 2 hours per song in studio time. To achieve the quality and performance level of a full-blown retail release, on the other hand, requires anywhere from 8-16 hours per song.
Showcasing your songwriting skills to others with the interest of selling your songs for someone else to use.
If your desire is to sell your songs for others to perform, it is generally accepted that you should keep your recordings to a bare bone minimum. The people you are sending your songs to need to have room for their own imagination. Let them imagine what a mandolin might sound like there, or what a screaming electric lead might do for the song. They need room to shape the song in their head, don't confuse them by trying to submit your entire vision. Remember, your song will most likely be completely re-recorded in another studio, by other musicians, with a flare that meets the market the buyer is trying to capitalize on. Often, this is a great place for a two microphone setup directly to DAT or a hard disk CD burner. This type of recording project usually ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours per song in studio time.
Full-length CD project with the intent of retail distribution and commercial visibility.
The truth is, making and distributing a successful recording is about 50% raw talent and 50% business smarts. If you have too much water in one bucket or the other, your gonna get all wet. Most artists have no problem with the raw talent part, it's the business side that gets them. But you don't need to have a business degree, you just need a realistic plan and an ability to stick to it.
Keep it simple, consider these five basics, and if you can't realistically answer "Yes" to these questions, then hold on and try again when you're sure you're ready.
A) Just what exactly is my budget? Do I even have a budget and am I overly optimistic and actually think I won't exceed my budget? Prepare for the worst which typically means the dreaded "T&M" (time and money).
B) Are my songs really ready to go? Nothing gets the billing machine rolling like someone that starts re-arranging or writing a composition while in the studio. Be sure to have your songs completed and ready to go. Know what you're going for as far as sound and what instruments you are going to use to get that sound. Also, have solos and other parts of the song rehearsed and memorized before you start recording.
C) Am I well rehearsed? If the musicians that are slated to be recorded can't confidently make it through their parts in a single pass, then they need to practice the parts more. Of course, it's not mandatory, nor realistic to think that you won't need a few punch-ins or comp tracks, but the difference between a few and many is measured in significant hours and dollars.
D) Is there a good reason I'm even making this CD? If your making a CD just to have a few copies to give to family and friends, then you should probably just record fewer songs or record at the demo level to save money. It doesn't make a lot of sense to spend several thousand dollars to impress a handful of people.
If your goal is to make a good demo to distribute in the retail world, get concert bookings at venues, or to interest potential record labels to your product, then proceed efficiently; don't exhaust your wallet by spit shining your project, that's typically not necessary. However, be prepared to spend the extra time to make sure that your recording shows off your talent and potential as an artist. Recordings at this level typically require anywhere from 8-16 hours per song in studio time.
E) Can I sell 500 copies of this CD for $10 each within 8 months? Do you have a distribution chain? Do you have a following of fans? Do you play regular weekly gigs that offer you an opportunity to sell your product? Can you get your CD in local record stores? Have you worked with your local radio stations and musical equipment stores. Can you setup a concert? Do you have a web page that can accept sales? Can you get your stuff on Amazon.com, iTunes, or another global or internet distribution vehicle?
When all is said and done, I think it's safe to say that the best place for 1000 CD's is not in the corner of your basement collecting dust. A good distribution plan will make your experience an enjoyable one, and hopefully will lead to you coming back to visit us one day. Good luck with your project. If we can help you with the planning of your project by answering any questions you might have, then please contact us or give us a call at (509) 845-2800. We'll help you in any way we can.
What should you know about distribution?
Distribution is an art-form in itself. The best method for selling copies of your CD as an independent artist is to perform live and sell your CD's yourself at the show. Why? Because if you sell a CD for $12, guess who gets the $12? You. There are, of course, other avenues you need to consider for distribution that may result in a greater volume of sales, including using reps and percentage outlets. A percentage outlet may be a local record store, gift shop, music store or a third party web site (like Amazon.com or CDBaby.com). I refer to these outlets as "percentage outlets", because for every unit you will only receive a small percentage of the sale. The rest of the amount goes to the source making the sale. The benefit of using a third party distributor is that, with any luck, you will be able to sell a greater volume of units.