Although the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s showed a large number of artists looking for a record deal, the value of the record companies has largely decreased, in recent years. Anybody can make a record at home now. If I wanted to, I could hook up my board, microphones, and recording device, make an album, and have it available, by the end of the day. It used to take thousands, or even millions or dollars to create and promote an album. Now, you can do it for a few hundred dollars. The initial fees involved with home recording are for a decent mix board, a couple of good microphones, and some sort of recording device or software. You can get a good mix board for anywhere from $40-$2000, depending on what you need. A good vocal mic will cost around $100, at the least. For the most basic setup, a couple of dynamic mics will run you $60 or $70, and although they’re not as good, they’ll save you money, and if you know what you’re doing, you can get a pretty decent sound from them. I’ve used multitrack recording software, small audio recorders, and top of the line recording units. The technology’s there. It’s all good. You don’t have to have the top of the line recording unit anymore. Some of the best recording devices I’ve seen are handheld recorders, from brands like Sony and Zoom. There are great recording software programs that you can get online, LEGALLY, for free! Audacity’s probably the most popular, although it has problems occasionally with freezing up, or not properly saving tracks, leaving you with the task of doing it all over again. N-Track Studio was the best software I’ve ever used for recording music. There are programs that are superior in some ways like Garage Band and Pro-Tools, but are altogether unnecessary, if you learn how to get good with free programs, which isn’t hard. Good equipment will sound good any day of the week, as long as you don’t completely ruin the mix. Once you get good levels set, leave them there, mark the board, take a picture. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES! Your recording future depends on making it sound as good as possible. Too much experimenting will cause a terrible product! I recommend using a good handheld recorder or recording console, rather than software, because you don’t need to rely on a computer to save everything perfectly. You can always upload your songs to your computer, and either give them a final mix, or edit them, if you wish. Non-computer recording also encourages getting it right, rather than realizing that you have the crutch of re-doing something, if you get it wrong. After the recording’s done, you need to put it on some type of medium. If you choose to put it on iTunes, that’s good, but always have a physical product available. Most of your sales, when you’re first starting out, are going to be from people that are wanting to support you, and more than likely just saw you perform, and they want to take the songs home with them. If your music is only available online, these spur of the moment sales, that you will rely on for awhile, are impossible. If you’re lucky, they’ll remember to buy it on iTunes when they get home, but this is rare. How do you make it look good? Easy. There’s a program called LightScribe, which allows you to create album art, and through laser technology, it can etch it onto the disk, through a CD burner. These CD drives will specify whether or not they have that function. You can do this at home, for no charge, aside from the special burner, and the LightScribe disks. A disc of Nero software, including LightScribe, should be included with your disk drive. If you don’t mind waiting a few weeks, you can have a company make you professional CD’s in jewel cases, or cardboard jackets. DiscMakers is one of the best! After that’s done, you have your own homemade album. Now, how do you promote it? Years ago, the answer was flyers, radio play, and concerts. Due to the corporatizing of radio, airplay is near impossible for independent artists. Flyers rarely help, unless you’re handing them directly to someone, or placing them on windshields. Concerts, as mentioned before, are still a great way to promote your product! But, your best bet in the modern world, is to use sites like Youtube, Facebook, and Reverbnation. If you know what you’re doing, and you have the right amount of luck, you can do okay, without record labels.
This video is from a series of ExpertVillage videos, in which you learn about setting up a home studio:
This video is from another ExpertVillage series, in which you learn about recording a demo:
Hope this helps! Until next time,