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-   -   Tips Wanted: Hiring a Company to Create an Album (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=563885)

pf400 11-16-2019 08:20 AM

Tips Wanted: Hiring a Company to Create an Album
 
Good Day all. I'm thinking hard about recording an album of 6 Christmas songs, all fingerstyle. Mainly traditional music, all solo guitar. Open to having other instruments added virtually by an Engineer. Any tips on how to approach this would be appreciated. I'd love to have other real musicians contribute but that would cost me too much, I think. I would give the final product to family and try to sell some to recover some of the costs. I'm an intermediate-advanced player. I'm just not good with technology so I don't want to do anything except sit in a studio and play, but I do alot of looping so I am able to 'overdub' many layers. There are a handful of persons here who advertise that they can do a great job, but I don't know any of them and I don't know any other guitarist who has done this....thanks.

jim1960 11-16-2019 10:03 AM

Many studios will put a list of their clients/projects/credits on their website. Check out those lists and find someone who has experience recording fingerstyle guitar and then check out their work to see if you like the job they did.

You might also approach local players who have made studio recordings and ask who they'd recommend.

jwellsy 11-16-2019 10:11 AM

Find a small local high end guitar shop and ask them.

Bob Womack 11-16-2019 10:52 AM

If you want someone to add virtual instruments, that person will be a producer or musician. It isn't in an engineer's job description to perform, and what you are wanting is performance. What you are asking for is that someone perform on a "buyout" or "work-for-hire" basis, meaning that they play for you for a fixed amount and receive no royalties.

Now, there are musicians who will serve as a recording engineer on your album.

How do I know this? When I produce for my company I serve as producer, engineer, and session musician, on a "work-for-hire" basis. I perform whatever it takes, from synthesizers to guitars. Why do I do it? The company has hired me as a recording engineer/sound designer and has employed me as a professional for years, with pay and benefits. In order to have the clearest ethical lines with no conflict of interest, I simply forego royalties or contractor pay when working with my company and accept my regular compensation.

What you need to do is find a musician who is willing to help you on this project for whom you can offer some pay and/or value-in-kind, from their first recording experience to a published credit to several copies of his or her work to be able to share with family or on his or her resume' or possibly a nice gift of some kind. Don't put yourself in a position of taking creative work from a person without an agreement on the type of compensation and with the same level of comfort for both parties. It leaves a good taste in everyone's mouth and protects you from future conflict. Amy Grant's father had a saying: "A good deal is only a good deal if it is a good deal for everyone involved." Make 'em smile.

All the best,

Bob

MikeBmusic 11-18-2019 07:28 AM

If any of the songs are not in public domain, then you will need to buy a license to record and make CDs of them, cost is based # of CDs produced.

Do you have a budget? Basic studio time for a local small place starts at about $50 an hour and a 4 hour minimum would be a start.

pf400 11-19-2019 08:30 AM

Actually I have 16 songs not 6. Most are traditional Christmas songs...Silent Night, etc...one is from the 1960s, one from late 1990s. My budget is 2000 maximum. One place I know charges 30 per hour, provides 1 CD and an electronic link, can do 'splicing' to combine the best parts of several takes, can add reverb or other effects, but does not add other instruments to the mix.

Appreciating the four comments so far...thanks men.

jim1960 11-19-2019 10:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pf400 (Post 6215403)
Actually I have 16 songs not 6. Most are traditional Christmas songs...Silent Night, etc...one is from the 1960s, one from late 1990s. My budget is 2000 maximum. One place I know charges 30 per hour, provides 1 CD and an electronic link, can do 'splicing' to combine the best parts of several takes, can add reverb or other effects, but does not add other instruments to the mix.

Appreciating the four comments so far...thanks men.

"Splicing" is a tape reference. "Comping" is more likely what someone will do for you. It's a pretty common technique that's become a lot easier to do than it was 15 years ago.

I'd suggest finding someone who can do the recording AND add the instrumentation you want. Otherwise, you'll be bouncing back and forth between people and that's not ideal. The other alternative is to find a musician to come to the studio where you're recording and lay down tracks. That can add up quickly.

MikeBmusic 11-20-2019 07:31 AM

Be aware that you are too late to try to get a CD out for this Christmas.

DenverSteve 11-20-2019 08:42 AM

Many good answers. You have to first decide on your budget. Then you have to find a recording studio in the geographic region that can do what you want on your project. The producer you choose should have a good idea of what you want to accomplish. Once you do that, you will go in and record your session. Once recorded, your producer will produce your master within your budget and desires. It's a process that is infinitely easier than it was when I began recording in studios in the early 80's from a technical standpoint. From a human standpoint, it hasn't changed.

Scott Whigham 11-24-2019 08:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeBmusic (Post 6216201)
Be aware that you are too late to try to get a CD out for this Christmas.

Agree that Nov 16 is a bit late to get the ball rolling. Finding the right studio/producer, getting booked on their calendar for tracking, then again for mixing and/or overdubs, then waiting to get the mixes alone would take a month at best I would think, given where you are starting from. Then you will still need those mastered - another 2-4 weeks. Then you send the artwork and tracks to CD company for printing - another 3 weeks. You can compress the time scale a bit by having the studio also master, or finding an all in one company (tracking, mixing, mastering, printing). I didnít include things like artwork or buying the necessary bar codes for sale in retail outlets.

pf400 11-24-2019 08:39 AM

Great help so far, much appreciated. I have the songs down pretty well to my satisfaction, just my guitar and looper. Would love to add bass, organ, and keyboard tracks, plus do some talking parts in between songs...maybe 20 seconds of me explaining the significance of each song to me. I might be able to get some local business sell the product, not sure. For sure it would be a nice Christmas present for family and friends.

But really, is it necessary to have bar coding done on each CD?

I though CDs were on their way out...is there any other format to produce in?

I figure it will take 2 or 3 months to get this done. Realistic?

FrankHudson 11-24-2019 11:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pf400 (Post 6219940)
Great help so far, much appreciated. I have the songs down pretty well to my satisfaction, just my guitar and looper. Would love to add bass, organ, and keyboard tracks, plus do some talking parts in between songs...maybe 20 seconds of me explaining the significance of each song to me. I might be able to get some local business sell the product, not sure. For sure it would be a nice Christmas present for family and friends.

But really, is it necessary to have bar coding done on each CD?

I though CDs were on their way out...is there any other format to produce in?

I figure it will take 2 or 3 months to get this done. Realistic?

Like I'm sure others here, I used to do this every Christmas using CDR disks that I just burned on my computer and put in CD cases that you can probably still buy at supply stores which had a booklet I created on my computer. I'd then send them with our annual holiday letter to friends and family using mailer envelopes that were/are? also an office supply store item. This cost little to do other than the time to create and record the music.

You seem to be aiming for commercial distribution. Am I right? That's not my field, so others will have advice there.

Commercially, the focus these days is on streaming and digital platforms. Yes there is a vinyl resurgence and even cassette tapes seem to be having their nostalgic blip. If you have the budget and the ability/desire to spend the money with little chance of recouping costs, vinyl would be the other physical format.

DenverSteve 11-24-2019 11:44 AM

There are also companies/people that will engineer and add backing instruments, and even vocals, to your recordings. So, you can go get your music laid down and mastered and then send it off for embellishment. I believe that would be your most economical route. Maybe the quickest also. This way the only studio time you would need would be to lay down the recording. Afterwards it's just the engineering of the add-ons.

jim1960 11-24-2019 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DenverSteve (Post 6220164)
There are also companies/people that will engineer and add backing instruments, and even vocals, to your recordings. So, you can go get your music laid down and mastered and then send it off for embellishment. I believe that would be your most economical route. Maybe the quickest also. This way the only studio time you would need would be to lay down the recording. Afterwards it's just the engineering of the add-ons.

I've not heard any examples of this, but if you add tracks, the piece would have to be remixed and remastered.

MikeBmusic 11-25-2019 08:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pf400 (Post 6219940)
But really, is it necessary to have bar coding done on each CD?

If you are going to sell them in any commercial place, yes. Some CD replicators/duplicators will ONLY do it if you have a bar code.
Quote:

Originally Posted by pf400 (Post 6219940)
I though CDs were on their way out...is there any other format to produce in?

You heard right, CD sales are WAY down. Most people are streaming their music through one of the many services available (Apple Music, Spotify, etc).
A band I went to see Saturday night is offering 14 of their albums on a single USB stick for $30 - they are well aware that many people don't even have a way to play CDs any longer. Most new cars are not coming with a player, new computers don't come with one... Believe it or not, you can get limited vinyl album runs down now - but its really an audiophile thing, not for the 'normal' person.
Quote:

Originally Posted by pf400 (Post 6219940)
I figure it will take 2 or 3 months to get this done. Realistic?

2-3 months is not unrealistic, if you have done the prep work ahead of time - booking studio time, getting the album artwork finished (or at least requested), looked at all your studio/mastering/duplication/distribution options and decided on which ones you are going to use.

DenverSteve 11-25-2019 08:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pf400 (Post 6215403)
Actually I have 16 songs not 6. ......My budget is 2000 maximum.

If that's the budget, I would pare it down to 6 and hope you can find someone with some actual ability and experience to do an EP for you. You want recording, embellishment, adding of instruments.... on 16 songs..mastering.???Maybe try a music school that has an upperclassman needing an engineering project.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jim1960 (Post 6220220)
I've not heard any examples of this, but if you add tracks, the piece would have to be remixed and remastered.

Of course.


Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeBmusic (Post 6220879)
.... CD sales are WAY down.....Most new cars are not coming with a player, new computers don't come with one...

Wife and I bought new cars last week - no CD players offered. As for computers, not so much. I purchased a new iMac a few months ago for editing and they still come with optical players.

FrankHudson 11-25-2019 12:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pf400 (Post 6212939)
Good Day all. I'm thinking hard about recording an album of 6 Christmas songs, all fingerstyle. Mainly traditional music, all solo guitar. Open to having other instruments added virtually by an Engineer. Any tips on how to approach this would be appreciated. I'd love to have other real musicians contribute but that would cost me too much, I think. I would give the final product to family and try to sell some to recover some of the costs. I'm an intermediate-advanced player. I'm just not good with technology so I don't want to do anything except sit in a studio and play, but I do alot of looping so I am able to 'overdub' many layers. There are a handful of persons here who advertise that they can do a great job, but I don't know any of them and I don't know any other guitarist who has done this....thanks.

I went back to your original post just now, and I think there's an over-riding issue that we haven't adequately dealt with.

It is highly unlikely that you can recover the costs of a more elaborate and professionally aided production by sales of a CD or other recording distribution method. Setting aside your musical skills and inherent listenability (because even if they are high, they are immaterial to this issue) unless you have a significant fan base or publicity budget and focus, the professional production will not in anyway repay your investment in a cold, hard, accounting way. Are you Canadian? I get the impression that there are some Canadian practices that might mitigate this statement from a USA resident just a bit.

I'm not a music industry professional. Anyone here who is and wants to dispute this can join in with their valuable experience.

This may be a dream project for you. You may want to hear what you'd sound like with better production. If you have the money and that desire, you may still want to proceed with your goal.

An alternative is just to work on recording with a low-ish budget. Everything from a straight-off home recording to renting some studio and engineer time to record the guitar tracks and adding any sweetening later outside of a studio with line-in "DI" electric bass and "virtual instruments" that yourself or any friends who you can ask to contribute to your project. The advantage of using VI keyboards, electric drums and or DI bass is that they can sound reasonably good without studio space, microphones and other costs. You could also return to the studio/engineer to mix your outside the studio VI/DI tracks with the solo acoustic tracks you recorded there first.

If learning how to do even a bit of that is to big a commitment for your desired timeline, then I'd suggest just solo acoustic guitar. The studio and engineer time if you have your arrangements and playing down should not be that high, and the production time also low.

You can pay someone to master it, or use something like Ozone to help guide you to do it yourself. You could look at "all in one" services that will produce CDs and serve as middle-men to streaming services or just burn them on CDR disks for your friends and work out whatever digital distribution options yourself. Even something as informal as setting up a free YouTube channel may get you a few hundred listens for no upfront cost.

I haven't looked at this myself for sometime, but I seem to recall that CD Baby is one of those all-in-one services for offering distribution packages at a cost. Not an endorsement. I haven't used them or "shopped for services" myself recently.

If any of the distribution options get you some additional listeners and maybe even a little bit of payments, it may be worth it to you on an ego or artistic basis, but I would not expect any appreciable revenue. I don't know that quality or elaborateness of production will change that much, thus the ideas for minimizing those costs.

Or course I may be wrong on some of this, and I believe me I don't want to blunt your desires for your art and project. I just sincerely believe this issue is important to address.

pf400 12-17-2019 07:53 AM

I'm grateful for all input. Will update this later. Will have to rethink budget!


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