What are the benefits of recording yourself? Here are a few...
Most groups I record spend 3 – 6 hours (or more) tracking a song. Most great a cappella recordings these days are created by tracking each singer individually. This process gives you the in-your-face presence that you hear on those records. It also allows for ultimate quality control and flexibility. The average singer takes 15 – 30 minutes per song to record their part a couple of times at high quality with tons of energy. Do the math.
At $50 – $150/hour for most studios/producers and 3 – 6 hours tracking per song, that equals $150 – $900 in tracking per song. That’s a $900 – $5400 tracking budget for a 6 song EP or an $1800 – $10800 for a 12 song album. Tracking is usually the most time consuming step in the production process.
Flexible recording schedule
The most common hurdle I experience with high school, college, CAL, and professional groups is finding time to get all the necessary people to the studio. People are busier than ever and even finding a 2-hour window of time can be challenging. If you track yourselves, you can set up on your own turf. You can record every day with different members of the group. Record during regular scheduled rehearsals since you only lose 2 - 3 people from rehearsal at a time. Doing it yourself prevents needing to book one weekend and then cramming everything in… Less stress can lead to much better performances.
Time for experimentation and creativity
Maybe your group hasn’t recorded much in the past. DIY recording allows you to make mistakes and learn as you go. It also prevents you from making mistakes on the clock. You can also avoid having to settle for the performance that you could afford. Why not try out new ideas or get the best performance possible without having to watch the clock?
Interested yet? Read on…
TO BE VERY CLEAR, I am only recommending tracking on your own and only if you really have to save money. Most experienced a cappella producers have knowledge, skills, experience solving problems, and a track record of being creative during the tracking process that usually results in a better end product. If they are a professional, they might have recorded hundreds of a cappella songs ( I have). Additionally, they will probably be much faster than you in all aspects of tracking. The other steps in the production process, editing, mixing, and mastering are best done by a cappella engineers. Mixing and mastering in particular should be reserved for the experts in my opinion. Those steps require much more experience and knowledge of the physics of sound and recording technology to create amazing productions.
If you are still reading, I’m guessing you might want to try DIY recording. Stay tuned for future posts. I will give you a list of all the equipment you’ll need including prices and shopping recommendations.