Recording music at home feasible, but requires commitment

Advances in recording software allow the average songwriter to record quality music in the comfort of their home at a very affordable price.

Many of the top artists in the industry are no longer forking over hundreds of dollars per hour to record at a plush studio. Artists such as Selah and Derek Webb record at studios built in their homes. They have discovered the economics and creative edge it affords.

A home studio will allow you to use “virtual” equipment — which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars 20 years ago — for a fraction of those costs today.

With an inexpensive keyboard, you can create and record every instrument necessary to create a song.

Now don’t get me wrong, all the equipment known to man cannot make a bad song sound better. According to Michael Laskow, President of TAXI, the world’s largest independent A&R music company, even the best recording is useless if the song is poorly written and structured.

There are substantial differences in the skill needed and cost involved between using a home studio to for fun and producing a CD for market. You can easily put together a home studio for under $1,000. However, high-quality studio speakers — called studio monitors — and microphones which are necessary for professional-grade recordings can cost a few thousand dollars apiece.

If you ever decide to get serious about recording, consider this: the best speakers, microphones, and studio consoles have no value if you don’t understand how to deliver a final recording that sounds good in a car or on cheap computer speakers. Even the best studio engineers will take a final mix and listen to it in their car or in a room away from the studio to test it out.

The final process after recording is mastering. Mastering sets all the sound levels and equalization between songs and adds compression, which lends to the professional broadcasting sound. Everyone I am associated with who has a home studio, or records in a top-notch studio, will leave this to a professional mastering facility. Great mastering will save a mediocre recording and make a great song sound better. A good mastering facility is expensive, but ultimately you will get what you pay for and it will make or break your project.

A basic requirement for a home studio is a good computer with plenty of memory. You can usually use the computer’s sound card to run your monitors. I suggest you go online and search for sites which will instruct you how to tune your computer specifically for audio. Do not install any unnecessary applications, especially most anti-virus software or wireless network cards on the computer, except for what is relevant for recording.

For just about $100 each, I recommend a basic recording software, keyboard, microphone, simple mixer and interface, and lots of reading material. Mix and Recording are two very good magazines for beginners and professionals alike.

You can additionally purchase a bundle of the basic necessities for about $400.

As the pen is to paper to complete a concept, recording is an integral part of songwriting.

Next week we will discuss how to make money with your music, regardless of where you live.

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of Abbie Stancato’s series “So You Wanna Be a Star?” looking at the inner workings of the music business. Next week Abbie will take a look at marketing your music


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