What does it cost? - Budgeting Your Recording - Part II

What does it cost? - Budgeting Your Recording - Part II

Part II -

In Part I of this blog I promised to break recording budgets into some theoretical scenarios.  These estimates are based on the current recording climate in the San Francisco Bay and not necessarily a reflection of what I or any specific producer would charge to record your music.

Scenario 1:

Solo Artist, no accompaniment, minimal overdubs recording 6 song EP. Budget $1,000 1 - 2 days in studio, 1 day to mix, ½ day to master

Scenario 2:

Solo Artist, needs to hire a studio band of 2 - 3 pieces and producer to play guitar parts - Budget $300 - $500/song + mastering.  Full-length record (10 songs)... $3K - $5K

Scenario 3:

Band - 3 - 6 piece, plays basic tracks live, some overdubs, minimal vocal editing 12-Song Record.

Three days recording at large studio.  Affordable, working class studios cost $300 - $700/day including an engineer who might also be your producer.  This can vary based on who you know, work with and what the band’s needs/desires are.

Plan on 2 - 3 days in the studio to get everything recorded.

Plan on another 3 days minimum to mix.  Rule of thumb, one day recording + 1 day of mixing

Let’s assume your producer/engineer of choice charges $600/day (including studio).  3 days recording + 3 days of mixing = $3600.  Throw in a ½ day minimum of mastering and your around $4K minimum for your album.

That’s not to say you can’t do it for less.  A recent full length 12-song album I produced with a 5 -piece rock band came in at $3K, minus mastering.  I also played bass, which saved the band some money.

Which reminds me, hire a producer who can and likes to play on the records they make.  It’s a great value for you, the artist.

What’s the takeaway here:

Before you start a project, spend a few moments adding up how much you're able to spend on the process.  Like any project, budget for 10% - 20% in contingency if things take longer than expected or you decide to increase the scope of the project after it has started. Be transparent with the producer from the get go.  Let them know what you can and are willing to spend.  If they like you and believe in your music they might even give you an all in project rate.  

Another way to cover some costs is to offer your producer/engineer a percentage of the project or points, but that's another topic for another time.

Final thought: If you’re starting out and have a limited budget, considering scaling back projects - 3 songs sounding great and polished is probably better than 7 - 12 songs sounding half baked.  Use the extra time and possibly money you save getting airplay and building your audience.  

Copyright 2016 BenBernsteinMusic

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