I know that you’re all probably well aware of the fact that it is now possible to make good quality recordings yourself. It’s become fairly ubiquitous. But even so, I feel like people may not realize some of the huge benefits that come with recording yourself.
To start, I want to enumerate the different ways that people do it. There are many different parts to the process that goes from the start of recording to the completion of a polished song, and some people pick and choose which parts of the process to handle themselves. To speak generally, the different parts I’m talking about are tracking, mixing, and mastering.
Given those parts, people usually divide them up in the following ways:
First: Well, I’m gonna start by mentioning the artists who don’t handle any of the parts themselves. This means going to a studio that has the necessary recording gear, spending time making the recordings, handing those recordings off to be mixed, and then handing those mixes off to be mastered. This is really the least involved an artist can be in the process.
Second: Increasingly I see artists who handle the tracking/recording part themselves and then hand off the rest. They have a collection of recording gear (small or large) and they lay the parts down. Then they send those parts to be mixed and then to be mastered. No official studio involved, for the tracking anyway.
Third: Other artists (I include myself in this category) handle all (or most of) the tracking themselves as well as the mixing. Once the songs sound as good as they can get it, they send it off to mastering for the final polish.
Fourth: This last category is artists who do basically everything themselves from recording to mixing to mastering.
Obviously the way I’ve listed these “recording styles” goes from most expensive to least expensive, at least in terms of paying for services. In the first case the artists has to come up with funds to pay for EVERYTHING… with the most expensive part likely to be the tracking/recording phase. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t afford all of that each time I want to release an album.
While I have mastered my own releases, most of the time I like to have someone else handle that part. I feel like handling the recording and mixing myself and then paying someone to master it is a great balance that saves a ton of money while still achieving a professional feel. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t master your own stuff. If you wanna take that on too, more power to you.
This is where I want to start talking a bit more broadly. I feel like in order to “make it” in the music industry, artists increasingly need to find ways to conserve, consolidate and just do more with their music in general. There is still a huge amount of dependence on others for most people just in the recording process, and it drains artists of time and resources.
This is why I believe that learning to record and mix your own music is going to be the thing that gives you the most freedom and most chance for success.
More specifically, it does these things for you:
- Makes it cheap. Once you’ve built up some modest recording gear (it doesn’t have to be a lot), the cost of creating an album is incredibly low, especially if you start with just releasing it digitally.
- It gives you a ton more flexibility. You can create and record songs on your own time and on your own terms. If you’re disciplined, this means you can actually create and release more music faster, since you don’t have to depend on as many people.
- It gives you another great skill set that can help you in your career. Everyone has different goals, but if you have experience and skill with engineering and mixing your own releases, you’ll have a huge step above a lot of other artists. The options for your future are far more open, and you’ll have other potential revenue streams if you decide you want to use your skills to help other artists.
- It makes you a better musician. Once you start diving in and learning about the recording and mixing process, you get a fuller picture of what music is. You’ll get more ideas. You’ll discover new techniques that you can apply to make your music even better.
Do you know the best part of all this? You don’t need to go to a school to learn recording, mixing, and mastering techniques. The absolute best way to learn is to jump in and get started. That’s exactly what I did. And once you jump in, you’ll have questions and you’ll get confused. But the Internet is full of great resources to help you. If you are patient and stick with it, you will get better, and you will discover that recording isn’t a mystical voodoo art. It’s a skill that you can master!
Have you jumped in to recording yet? If so, how is it going? If not, what’s stopping you?
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