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A good studio will have everything a rehearsal studio has and more, including full recording facilities, effects, sound engineer and possibly seperate drum and vocal booths. How you record your tracks depends on your competance and preferred method of working.

  • Live Recording = Record your songs "live" as if you were performing at a gig - allows you to retain the energy of performance and is the quickest way if you are an experienced band or singer.

  • Layered Recording = Each instrument is recorded seperately, often to a click track or guide vocal - much slower but produces more professional results - better for newcomers but far more expensive due to the extra time taken.

  • Recording to Backing Tracks = Many studios now provide this cheaper alternative and will often provide the backing tracks for you to use. This method is suitable for newcomers, solo artists, duo's and vocal groups.

Costs range from an hourly rate to 100+ per day and you will have to include the mixdown time into your budget (anything from 1 hour to 7 days depending on amount of tracks recorded & instruments used) and your finished 1/4", 1/2", 1" or 2" master tape which you should negotiate to retain. (If buying your own master tape Ampex are good but make sure that the tape width is compatable to the recording studio's equipment.)   The hourly or daily rates rarely include the cost of the master tape, cd duplication, artwork, backing tracks, licensing, musicians and producers fees unless stated otherwise.

If you can spare the time and cash, record 8-10 tracks, use the best 2-3 on your demo tapes and press an album to sell at your gigs.

What is a Package Deal?
A studio may offer a package deal that reflects their working preferences. For instance - those that prefer to block book and work on albums, long term projects, bands will offer a block booking package at a reduced price i.e, hourly rate = 20.00, Reduced block booking rate e.g. 8 hours = 120.00. (The figures may be way out but you get the general idea!)

A more recent concept is the small production studio which concentrates on package deals designed for solo artists, songwriters and vocal groups. The singer can choose between a wide range of professionally produced quality backing tracks from a variety of artists provided by or licensed to the studio specifically for demo use. This usually consists of a set time period (1 or 2 hours etc.), in which your voice is recorded and mixed with the track by a sound engineer and/or music producer who may also offer original songwriting production/remixing services. The studio normally retains the master tape which may get erased or re-used for other artists (you may have the option to purchase the master), and you get to take home the finished CD complete with neatly produced artwork, label and inlay.

Who Owns the Copyright on recorded material?
1. The author of the song owns the copyright (if thats you - copyright protect your music before allowing anyone to hear or view your compostition).

2. If you collaborate with another artist/musician to create a song you both own the copyright unless agreed otherwise.

3. If the studio provides musical expertise - i.e, puts music to your lyrics - technically they own the copyright to the music and you own copyright to the lyrics. Check with the studio / musician / producer for their policies and negotiate possible copyright purchase or royalty payments prior to recording.

4. If you are recording a cover version YOU are responsible for obtaining permission for use from the artist, publisher or recording company who owns the copyright. Acceptable use for a covers song usually includes non-commercial use i.e, a demo for bookers, agents, managers or A&R, however, if you intend to record cover versions with the intention of selling the CD at gigs, radio airplay or release then you MUST obtain permission and pay any fees required.

Who Owns the Master?

1. If you purchase the medium (i.e., tape, cassette, minidisk) on which the master is recorded then it belongs to you.

2. If the studio owns the medium on which the songs are recorded - they own the master in production but you own the completed master. (In other words the song is still yours as is the finished product, however the tape or other medium on which it was originally recorded is retained by the studio. Usually these tapes get re-used and it's not an issue, however, dubious individuals could use snippets of your song or even re-mix and release this material without your permission.

This problem is easily solved - most studios will negotiate and although you'll pay more to take the original master away with you - it's worth the potential worry and agrivation.

What to put on a demo!
Ideally before you record your demo you need to think about what your aiming for.   If you want a solo singer/songwriting career then original songs are a must.

Whatever area you want to work in albeit covers or original, cabaret, theater, festivals or the solo/duo/band pub/club circuit then the demo should be a compilation of your interpretation of the type of songs you will be performing (i.e., ambiant, blues, choral, classical, country, folk, gospel, jazz, opera, rock, theatrical, heavy metal) for your potential audience.

Basically you need to tailor your demo tape/cd to the market you are aiming to perform for.  For a working musician this would be the style of music you feel comfortable playing with competance regardless of wether it is a cover version of a favourite song or artist or your own work.

The demo has to show your capabilities and potential so aim to produce something that will appeal to your potential booker/agent, manager, publishing or record company to show off your talents and gain their interest.

For booking or entertainment agents an audio or video demo should be made up of three or four 30 sec to 1 minute snippets of a variety of material rather than full songs and never send anyone an original song without copyrighting it first!! 1 fast, 1 slow & 1 mid tempo song is the average but with 'snippets' you can get away with 5 tracks, with the last track a full song (you can use a song that is included in an earlier 'snippet' - if they are interested they may want to hear more so do 2 demo tapes - one with 'snippets' to send out and one with 3 good full songs or a showreel for serious follow up enquiries.

If you are singing along to one of your favourite artists songs make sure it is a 'backing track' and does not have the original artist singing - some people have made this mistake and it sounds really unprofessional - if you want to be taken seriously then you must have a professional attitude even as an amateur!!

Review your demo on a regular basis. Does it still reflect the type of music you are currently performing? Does it contain material that demonstrates your abilities to their fullest extent wether that be vocal, songwriting or both? Has your voice or style of music matured, developed, changed? Are YOU happy with your demo?

Recording on Home Studios
You can save a lot of money and by purchasing a few good pieces of equipment and learning how to use it effectively. Whilst this is not viable for a band using live drums (unless you have the space and understanding neighbours!), other artists can learn to produce high quality recordings. There are tons of books and articles available on the internet which provide information on recording, mixing and effects.

Don't send out demos without researching the management/record company first for an idea of what they are looking for, some only deal with bands or songwriters and many managers will not consider artists who perform 'covers' of their favourite artists.

Managers will not do anything for you until you have done a certain amount for yourself, you will be expected to audition or be seen working so make sure that what you put on the demo tape/cd is material you perform well and can reproduce in an audition or at a gig even if its to a backing track. Read more about Management in the Artist Management section!

Also Read
How good do your demo's have to be?
How do I jump from demos to master quality recordings
Record the RIGHT Demo
Learn how to submit your songs like a professional songwriter.

UK Recording Studio Listings
Addresses and links to their websites are provided in the database / links section.

Related Articles

These are just a small example of the extensive links to online exercises and lessons written by industry professionals that we have available at the Sound Engineering Articles section at the Electric Blues Club, which contains links to the page (when not a framed site) plus answers to pretty much everything a beginner, intermediate, advanced singer or teacher needs to know about sound engineering and recording! (All links below open in a new window).

A - Z Sound Glossary
Excellent sound glossary explaining each term used in sound and recording with cross-referances to related terms. The site contains text descriptions and information about mixing desks, input devices, wireless microphones, processors and how to use them suitable for beginners to intermediate users. This is a USA site so please remember that their electricity supply works at a different ampage from UK. USA readers should also check out his links section which contains manufacturers, dealers, distributors, hire companies and reference sources.

Choosing a recording setup
A five part series of articles from Sound on Sound magazine.

Demo Diagnosis
Organization is the key word when to comes to recording your home demos. Studio veteran Andy Cahan and Demo Doctor talks about how to get the best from your song and demo recordings at Taxi.com.

Digital Domain
Provides a host of articles on CD Mastering, Compression, FAQ on Digital Audio, how to align and set up Subwoofers and other related recording articles.

Effects on Vocals
Discussion about various types of effects singers use when performing live or recording provided by ProSoundWeb.

FAQ - Using Microphones
There are some questions of recording technique which seem to come up again and again. Paul White sets out to answer some of the most common queries on how to choose and use microphones... from Sound On Sound Magazine.

Ground Floor Records
Tips and Tricks for DIY Musicians provided by Bernie Scott includes some useful articles on studio monitor setup and alleviating home studio hum.

Home Studio Registry
where musicians and composers can swap information and tips.

Home Video Licensing
Information and advice by Jeffrey & Todd Brabec available at Taxi.

LoopLibrary.com
Royalty free downloadable loops and samples. Fill out the simple survey for access to free downloadable loops.

Mastering: What It Is and Why You Shouldn't Do It In Yor Garage
Whether you've just been signed by Clive Davis, you're making a CD to sell on mp3.com, or composing underscore for a Sundance Film Festival entry; you'll be more competitive, more satisfied and more relaxed if you let a mastering pro finish the job. By Ron Boustead.

Music-And-Technology.com
Resources for the Recording Musician. Message Board, How To Guides, Articles on Recording and Production, Required Reading Book List, Links/Directory, and more.

Music, Money & Sampling
by Jeffrey & Todd Brabec of ASCAP
A two part series that covers the areas of sampling and the implications to recording including permissions, negotiations and payments. When can you do it? Who has to approve it? How is the money divided? Read about these and other important issues.

Recording Voiceovers At Home
Need to setup a home studio to record voice narration for home videos, indie productions, commercials, and more? In this article, Jeffrey P. Fisher discusses what you need and how you can do it.

Recording Artist Videos
Since videos can in many cases be as important to your career as CDs, this entire area is critical to both the you and the record company. By Jeffrey and Todd Brabec.

Recording Studio Advice
A new series of articles provided by professional studio designer John Storyk starts with SMALL ROOMS -- LOW FREQUENCY CONTROL advice on Internal Room Acoustics and Home/Project Studio design at the Electric Blues Club.

Recording Vocals by Rick Ording
The article in .pdf format (requires adobe acrobat free reader software) explains how to master the psycological and technical process of recording a singer including everything from preparation and mics to trouble shooting and mixing. Aimed at songwriters, dj's producers and sound engineers.

Recording Website
Community website with audio recording tips and techniques, articles and forums for home studio users of all levels. Articles include Making your own cables, Blending Vocals in the Mix and Recording Music on your PC.

Singing in a Recording Studio
Article by singing teacher to the stars 'Tona de Brett' providing useful tips and advice to singers.

Studio Recording Engineer
An interesting forum for sound engineers and those who are interested in seeking a career as an audio engineer.

Speech Intelligibility
Factors that affect intelligibility in sound systems article from Meyer Sound Laboratories includes diagrams and charts.

The Recording Forums
Articles, tips and techniques on home studio recording.

Writer-Recording Artist Movie Song Contracts
How the money is distributed when the songwriter is also a recording artist, and is not only creating the song for the motion picture, but also performing it in both the film and on the soundtrack album. By Jeffrey and Todd Brabec.