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“If only we could record whenever we wanted, didn’t have to pay outrageous studio fees and we could try all our ideas without someone holding us back, then we’d have it made.” After all, it is most every musician’s dream to own a studio and achieve a creative complete-ness isn’t it? As a musician who became a studio owner and is now no longer a performing musician, I know these ropes and let me tell you – they can tangle and pull you off course.
Conventional wisdom: Recording in our own studio will bring us closer together.
Reality: It’s more likely to cause stress and arguments. Whether your band is a straight-democracy, democracy with a “veto power” leader or a “front-centric titular leader,” you may find that achieving group-think isn’t made any easier…in fact, it’s often harder without the leadership (and tie-breaking) of a hired producer/engineer.
Conventional wisdom: We’ll save money.
Reality: If you record very frequently, you’ll end up saving significant cash. But, quality gear is expensive, whether hardware or virtual, and studios are notorious for nickel-and-dime’ing you to death. You’ll likely spend way more than you would in a studio for your first full-length, break even on the second and start “saving” on your third.
Conventional wisdom: Then we’ll record a lot, to save lots of money.
Reality: Recording is a big pain in the ass and there’s plenty of obstacles in-between your vision and prolific productivity. You’ll only seldom record due to health issues, computer issues, plug-in nightmares, neighbor complaints, “waiting on more crucial piece of gear” and the big one…the lack of urgency created by always having a studio available.
Conventional wisdom: We will reach new heights of creativity.
Reality: Yes, you’ll get plenty of opportunity to fix mistakes and enjoy endless do-overs, but more creativity…no. Your left brain and your right brain will likely feud enough to prevent that (if your unruly band mates don’t), assuming you’ve got the deep chops often needed to achieve creativity in a technical world where freshness is elusive.
Conventional wisdom: We’ll record everything from free jams, to rehearsals, to demos…we’ll never lose another good idea again!
Reality: Its hard enough to be on-time, in-tune and always “ret to go” without having to babysit the laptop…and set-up mics, make rough mixes, distribute files to the gang, do DAW/OS updates, etc. You’ll record everything for a month and then that routine gets old surprisingly quickly.
Don’t get me wrong; a little personal discipline goes a long way towards beating the “distracted artist” syndromes described above. It is possible to have fun and save money if you have an extremely stable line-up, tightly aligned artistic goals and employ realistic expectations. If that’s a bit too much to chew, try starting slowly with a simple rehearsal recording set-up and then graduate to the demo recording level. You may find that provides the requisite artistic freedom, without the life-consuming hassles of being a computer-tech/musician/engineer/producer/entrepreneur/coach/marriage counselor…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Tavaglione owns Catalyst Recording in Charlotte, NC (www.catalystrecording.com) and is a freelance writer/reviewer/columnist/blogger for the pro audio industry.
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