Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why use a pro studio?

This question came up on CD Baby today. Why use a pro studio when you can record at home and save a load of money?

Well, for one thing, a good pro studio will have an affiliation with an arranger or an orchestrator who will prepare your string or horn charts for a very reasonable rate, and contacts with local symphony or theatre-pit players who will play at the AFM Limited Pressing Session Rate (fewer than 10,000 CDs, or 3,000 in Canada) which is $100 per 2-hr session, plus benefits. This makes it very affordable to add professional string or horn arrangements to a song, a difference that is easily heard by anyone considering your material. If you use the two hour session to score two or three songs—even split the time with another songwriter—you’re looking at just $600 per song, perhaps even less.

If you surround yourself with the best people you can afford and stay the hell out of their way, your song will exceed whatever you can conceive for it working by yourself. Even Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney were better with sidemen than they were playing and overdubbing everything themselves.

This is one of the benefits of working with a fully pro studio. They are on your side.

You have to decide if you want to be in the music business or the studio business. Equipment manufacturers have done a good job over the past 30 years convincing musicians that they have to buy lots of gear to record themselves, when the truth is that if you spent half that money on professional arrangers, players and studios, you'd be far ahead of your competition who are still paying off their gear, reading manuals (maybe), and renting out their "studios" for $18 per hour and undermining the value of a real studio operation. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Write me at to continue this discussion.