It's true, I've seen a little too much TV...
I recently acquired an electric griddle and started cooking at the studio. Not only has it saved me from bringing a lunch every day (not to mention dinner and so often breakfast), but it is teaching me valuable lessons about preparation. You see, it's the first non-stick cooking 'thing' I've ever really owned and I really had to figure out how best to use it.
The first eggs I cooked on it stuck to the pan and I was naturally annoyed. Who wants to scrape eggs off a pan? No One! That's who. It wasn't until a recent mistake that I realized what I was doing wrong. Let me explain.
Recently, I received this email from a potential client asking about estimates and budgets.
"Hi I'm in a band and I was just wondering if I could get an estimate cost to record and edit our album. It's our first album, with ten songs roughly 3-4 minutes in length. We've never done this before so we need to know what our budget should look like. So if you could give us an estimate that would really help us out thanks."
It's something I get asked a lot about so I thought I'd share it with all of you. This was my reply.
Setting a budget for your first album is entirely dependant on the expectations of said album and could range from almost nothing to several thousand dollars. Expectations also change over time. In 1998 I recorded my first full band record for $180 (the cost to rent the gear for the weekend) and did all the work ourselves. We didn't have any expectations other than hearing ourselves and selling a few cassettes (yes, cassettes).
That same record today would cost me around $10,000 or more to make because I would expect it to inspire serious consideration from commercial radio.
That's the first consideration in establishing a budget for your record...
What Are Your Expectations?
- Who will want to listen to it?
- Where will it be played?
Once you have a really good idea what your expectations are for the record, then you can start figuring out how long things should take at every step of the process.
I'll also go with the assumption of 10 songs at 3-4 minutes each.
Stage 1 of 4 - PRE-Production (Free to $1000)
This is the stage of getting ready for the recording stage... and that means everything from instrument setup & repair to making sure each song works as good as it can to making sure each player is playing the right thing. This stage depends on your producer...
"A good performance will override any production idea or sonic idea that you can have." - Record Producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, etc)
Of everything I'm about to discuss with this article, the above statement is perhaps THE most important aspect of a producer's role. The performance is the key. It is the responsibility of the performer to show their best, and the responsibility of the producer to take them further.
The Record Producer
In the previous article, I mentioned a handful of definitions related to the term producer. While they're all valid, for the purposes of this article, I'll only go into depth on two of those terms.
The Record Producer vs The Electronic (music) Producer
The quick and dirty difference between the two is to think of the Electronic producer as more of a songwriter. He/She is the one creating/sampling/manipulating electronic sounds or noises into something that (hopefully) sounds really great. A couple examples are local producers James Sadoway and Eleazar.
The traditional record producer, on the other hand, is more easily thought of as the manager or boss of the recording. They pay attention to all aspects of the recording from songwriting to performing to budgeting to time management. After that, the field is pretty wide open for what a producer is. They can be mentors, documentarians, songwriters, musicians, fans, or even artists. One thing a producer MUST have - and everyone seems to accept this (though I prefer Jerry Wexler's take most of all) - is an ear for music. A producer has to be able to hear that it's in tune, that the players are in the pocket, and that what they're doing will work.
I've recently been working with a client who has really taken on the self producer role and has such a clear picture of how her songs should be. The experience has been hard on her. She's young and inexperienced, and has taken her share of lumps along the way, and yet she's still just as motivated and enthusiastic about what she's doing.
Naturally, as young as she is she sometimes can get ahead of herself. To help her along, I wrote her an email about releasing her songs, and I think it would benefit everyone if they started thinking about similar strategies. Of course, I wrote this about music, though it can certainly be applied to any release campaign with some creative thinking.
Cheers and enjoy.
Hi (name withheld)
We've been talking about singles… and I want to send you some thoughts I think you should keep in mind for the "Release" of it, or them…
You should be considering the release of your single(s) as a marketing campaign.
Ask yourself the following questions…
- What is the point/reason to release a single? This is the biggest question you should answer for yourself.