Music Recording Advice for Bands
The following band resources information is based upon input from numerous bands and musicians, the Bandmonster staff, and our contacts and resources in the music industry.
- Studio versus DIY: It's no longer about quality
- If you go the DIY route...
- If you go the studio route...
- Plan ahead
It used to be that if you wanted a professional recording, you had to go to a studio. Studios had the expensive equipment and all the technical know how. This part hasn't changed. What has changed is the gap in quality between studio and home recordings. You can now get a very good DIY home recording at a much lower cost than in years past. However, lower does not equal cheap. If you want to do it yourself, you still have to buy the equipment and (here's the catch) you have to learn how to use it. If you have the time and the desire then go for it. But, if you're looking to record in the near future, don't want to shoulder buying all the equipment (as opposed to splitting studio costs with the band), or just don't have the motivation, then start checking out your local studios.
Buy a book or two, read online, and talk to other bands on everything from setting up mics, to best/cheapest brands of equipment, to software versus hardware, etc. The more you can absorb from other people's experiences, the better. Of course, don't hesitate to get started right away, either. Jump right into it. Just have some 'go to' resources ready so that when you hit a roadblock, you'll get past it faster and you'll get professional quality material that much more quickly.
Scout out a few different places, listen to each studio's work, and keep an ear out for what other bands are saying (word of mouth). If it all possible, read up a bit on recording basics. The more you know, the better you'll be able to judge which studios are the real deal, and which are just rooms with shiny equipment and engineers who know their lingo. And don't forget to ask questions. Listening to a rattled off list of equipment and price packages won't tell you what you really want to know: "Why should I choose your studio?" Go ahead and ask that exact question. You'll get some pretty revealing answers.
Regardless if you go DIY or studio, know what you hope to get done before you even get started. Do you want to do a full album, or just an EP? How much time and/or money is available? Which songs are worth recording and does everyone have them down solid? Recording always takes longer than everyone thinks, and the last thing you want is to start recording songs in no particular order, then realize you still haven't tackled your two best songs (and you're supposed to be nearly finished), or worse, waste time/money on take after take because you don't have the songs down. A little planning ahead will save lots of aggravation.
Recommended Reading for Music Recording
These are recommendations from our clients and staff (most of whom are in bands). If you have a suggestion, please contact us. If it's good, we'll list it.
General Sound Engineering
The Recording Engineer's Handbook
Bobby Owsinski (January 2009) (intermediate level information)
Recording & Production Techniques
Paul White (January 2004) (intermediate level information)
Understanding Audio: Getting the Most Out of Your Project or Professional Recording Studio
Daniel M. Thompson (February 2005) (introductory level information)
Audio Made Easy: (Or How to Be a Sound Engineer Without Really Trying)
Ira White (April 2007) (introductory level information)
Home Recording For Musicians For Dummies
Jeff Strong (November 2008) (introductory level information)
Professional Microphone Techniques
David Miles-Huber, Philip Williams (March 1999) (intermediate level; needs updating, but information still relevant)
The Sound Reinforcement Handbook
Gary Davis, Ralph Jones (January 1988) (needs updating, but information still relevant)
Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools
Roey Izhaki (January 2008) (intermediate level information, easy to read)
Mastering Audio, Second Edition: The art and the science
Bob Katz (October 2007) (intermediate to advanced level information)
The Mastering Engineer's Handbook: The Audio Mastering Handbook
Bobby Owsinski (introductory level information)
Recording Magazine (recordingmag.com)
Monthly recording magazine. Published in the US, available for subscription in North America.
Mix Magazine (mixonline.com)
Montly magazine covering a wide range of topics including recording, live sound and production, broadcast production, audio for film and video, and music technology. Worldwide distribution.
Sound on Sound (soundonsound.com)
Monthly music recording magazine. Based out of the UK, offers both UK and US editions.
Additional Resources for Music Recording
These are sites our clients and staff (most of whom are in bands) recommend. If you have a suggestion, please let us know. If it's good, we'll add it to the list.
Full Sail University (www.fullsail.edu)
Offers on-campus programs in Recording Arts, as well as on-campus and online programs in both Music Business and Entertainment Business.
Berklee School of Music (www.berklee.edu)
Departments in Music production and Engineering, Music Synthesis, and Music Business / Management.
The Los Angeles Recording School (www.recordingcareer.com)
Areas of concentration include Music Production, Digital Recording, and Audio Postproduction for Film & Television
Recording Workshop School of Audio and Music Production (www.recordingworkshop.com)
Main program is a 5-week Recording Engineering & Music Production course. Also offers 1-week courses in Studio Maintenance & Troubleshooting, Advanced Recording Engineering & Music Production, and NewTech Recording Audio Production.
If you would like to contribute or make a suggestion for Music Recording Advice, please contact us.
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