Phase 2: Music Production Before the Studio.

 Marketing Music Plan  Pre-studio Production  Record Your CD  Sell Your Music 

8.Action : Assemble your music production team.

Ingredients: A producer, arranger, studio engineer, a marketing director.

    • In every recording, there should be the following: a producer, an arranger, and a technical engineer. If you can, a marketing director as well. The producer has overall responsibility for the music production quality. He will choose the studio, and the other members of the creative team. He will hire the musicians. In all likelihood, you will be the producer.

    • The arranger takes your songs and assigns the parts to the musicians. She is pretty much as important as the composer. Choose carefully, for a good arranger can take a mediocre song and do wonders with it, as easily as she can take an excellent song and destroy it.

    • The technical engineer comes with the recording studio. He takes care of the studio preparation. He is the one who makes sure that every part is recorded properly. His most important job will be mixing the project. His influence over the sound of your project is very significant.

    • The marketing director will focus exclusively on getting the product that she can sell. Her input should be strongly heeded, because she represents the bottom line.

9.Action : Pre-record and choose your material.

Ingredients: A multi-track recording device or computer, musical accompaniment, a first " home arrangement" of the songs.

    • It's always a good idea to start off your music production with more songs than you need. Then, you will have to choose the strongest songs, and not use a song just because it's written.

    • Using your own computer, tape recorder, or what ever you have, record a basic version of each song. Together with your creative team, evaluate all of the material and make the right choices.

10.Action : Convene the war council.

Ingredients: Your music production team, a good setting for a formal meeting.

    • Explain to your music production team the entire concept of the album. Make sure that everybody's job is clear to them, and that the goal is one that excites them all. Get feedback and let everybody be heard - your best ideas for studio preparation, the most effective process, the best musicains, will come from this meeting.

11.Action : Decide the recording parameters.

Ingredients: Your marketing research, music production director, your knowledge of the songs, flexibility.

    • Recording studios charge by the hour, so there is no excuse for first figuring out what to do in the studio. The most valuable music production work is done before you get there. Decisions you must make before the arrangements can be created are:

    • Electronic or acoustic? Are you using computer samples, a midi sequencer, a drum machine, acoustic guitarist, a grand piano or a keyboard?

    • Separate takes or the whole band? Many bands prefer to record each instrument separately. The advantage of this is that if he makes a mistake, it will be caught faster and he can correct it without the whole band having to play the section again. A smaller group who feed off of each other's energy can record together.

    • Orchestration. What instruments are going to play, and how many singers. It's advisable to use orchestration you can reasonably re-create in a live performance. If you record with the Boston Symphony and book gigs, can you hire them every time?

    • 12.Action : Create the song arrangements.

Ingredients: Your arranger, the knowledge of your resources.

    • The arranger decides the road map for the song and who plays what.

    • Some arrangers prefer to work on the fly. They like to go into the studio with just a basic idea as to how the song will go. I'm not the biggest fan of this, but it works best for groups that are mostly rhythm based.

    • The best way to arrange is to have lead sheets, complete charts, or whatever material the musicians work best with, prepared in advance. In this way, the arranger will get exactly what he wants, without any guesswork being paid for by you in the studio.

    • That does not mean that spontaneity is to be avoided! Very often brilliant ideas will come up on the spot. Go with that! And if you're starting point is strong, what happens in the magic of the studio will be that much stronger.

13.Action : Record pre-studio material.

Ingredients: A midi device and/or pro quality recording equipment.

    • Unless your material is free rhythm, or you are recording the entire band at once, you will want to make sure that your tempos and rhythms are tight. The time-honored way to do it is with a metronome.

    • Now, even if you're only using one or two sequence tracks from your computer, I recommend recording a drum and rhythm (guitar or piano) track. This will serve as your basis for all the acoustic instruments you need. I have had to re-record entire songs because I failed to do this. Do this at home on your computer and bring it into the studio as a midi file or on a compact disc as an audio file.

    • Remember to record a lead in so the live instruments and singers know when and in what key to start the song. If you are using other prerecorded material in the actual recording, prepare that into the same file so that it's ready to go in the studio.

    • One other point. You may be able to get away with recording some audio tracks as well at home. If you do, be sure that the quality is good enough, that your sound space is clean, and that when you bring it into the studio they will be able to use it with what ever software or equipment they have. For example, if you are recording a backing vocal into a program like Cubase, start the audio track at the very beginning of the song even if the part you are to record doesn't come until the very end. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the technician to line up the tracks.

  • 14.Action : Plan the studio sessions.

Ingredients: Your arranger, studio engineer, paper and pen.

    • Decide who records what and when. If you're hiring a musician for three songs, for example, have him record each of the songs in one session.

    • I suggest that you chart out a graph with all of the songs and all of the musicians listed. Then you can see which songs require which musicians.

    • Remember, also, that sometimes one musician needs to hear another part in order to best play his part.

    • Once you've laid down your tracks, you can't easily change the key. That's why planning your solo vocals early in the process is an advantage. You can always go back and fix them later if they weren't good enough the first time.

15.Action : Prepare the cover art.

Ingredients: Your music marketing plan, music production director, photos of the band or other materials.

    • Now that you have decided what songs you're going to put on your disk, you can prepare your cover art. Find a good graphic artist and go over with them your marketing concept. Remember that people browsing in a store will be attracted to some products more than others based on the packaging. You want an image that is attention getting as well as super effective in communicating your marketing message. You will also need to prepare the back of the jewel case which lists the songs, as well as whatever information you want printed on the disk itself.

16.Action : Practice.

Ingredients: Time and perseverance.

    • This should be self explanatory. Again, never go into the studio preparation time is critical. If you don't do it, you will waste lots of money.

NEXT: How to use your music recording studio time as you record your own CD.

 |Marketing Music Plan | |Pre-studio Production | |Record Your CD | |Sell Your Music |



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