PLANNING YOUR PROJECT: THE PROCESS
Let's back it up a little. Before we get into the specifics of budgeting for each part of the recording process, let's quickly take a look at exactly what each step of the process is.
Preproduction is the homework you do before you come into the studio so that when you're in the room all you need to focus on is laying the track down the best you can. Your production is the foundation you're going to build the rest of the project on, so it's important you don't skip this step. Preproduction can look like a lot of things. It's recording scratch tracks on your phone to help guide you in the studio, finding a tempo that works for you, and the time spent practicing to a click. It's playing the songs again and again and again until the arrangement is just right. Being in the studio can be stressful because all of a sudden the clock is ticking and there's so much you want to get done. Knowing your songs inside and out can really help to make sure you get everything accomplished. Preproduction can be done anywhere, from your basement to a rehearsal hall.
Tracking is the part of the recording process most people are familiar with. This is you and your session players, or your band, on the live room floor recording your songs. Usually, because we have a bigger space and we can isolate amps, we record our bed tracks with all the players out on the floor together. We believe that good sightlines equal good vibes, and it feels good when everyone is playing together. After bed tracks and overdubs, the focus shifts and lead vocals and any background vocals are recorded. Any extra production, like strings, will usually be recorded separately as well.
Mixing is often forgotten about because it's the first part of the process where the artist isn't as hands on. There's a lot of smaller steps involved in mixing (we'll get to that later), so it can be a long process. Mixing involves piecing together everything that happened when the artist was tracking. It's taking the best takes, the best vocal, the best overdubs, and putting them together into one track and blending it together. Artists new to the recording process are often surprised to learn that the budget for mixing your album is often equal to, if not more than, the budget for recording your album.
Mastering is the final step of the process. The mastering process takes your mix and makes sure that everyone hears your project the way you want it to be heard. A key part of mastering is balance- that is, making sure that the sound of the album is cohesive.
Usually, each step of the process is done separately, and in the order listed above. If you're doing your entire project with us, you'll start in Studio A with Josh and/or Brennan. You'll start off with bed tracks and scratch vocals, and then begin adding layers like overdubs, and keeper vocals. When the tracking is all done, Josh or Brennan will take some time to edit your project. That's selecting the best takes, and doing some basics like vocal tuning. Brennan will prepare the files, and then send them over to our mixing engineer, Spencer Cheyne.
Sometimes people find this part of the process stressful because you hand the project over to Spencer and trust him with your vision. We treat mixes like a conversation - Spencer will send versions of the mix, receive mix notes from the artist and/or producer, and tweak the mix. When all the tweaking is done, it's time to have the project mastered. We believe that the more ears on a project the better, so we don't typically master tracks ourselves. We will be able to refer you to someone who we know does great work.
Read Planning your Project - Part One: Tracking
If you have any questions, you can reach our studio manager at: firstname.lastname@example.org