I hope you’ve all had a great holiday period and I wish all of you out there a happy and successful 2009. In the build-up to Christmas, I looked at the benefits of recording at home and at private studios. For many musicians – those who know they won’t make a living out of music alone – these are more than enough. But if you think you’re sitting on a perfect number one, you’ll want to take that extra step.
After all, if you’re approaching managers, producers and A&R reps, you only get one chance to make a first impression and you can’t assume that anything less than a first-rate recording will do. And that’s not just about crystal-clear recording quality. Turn on the radio and listen to the level of production, instead of the music itself. That’s what those labels want to hear when you approach them for the first time. And though you’ll be paying big money, you’ll work with expert engineers and producers whose reputations are riding on your tracks.
Reiner Erlings of Dubai’s Creative Kingdom studio believes that pros still have the upper hand, despite increasingly sophisticated home studios. ‘Professional studios have in-house engineers who know exactly how to get the best-sounding results with the equipment they have,’ he says. ‘The best results are achieved when someone with experience uses the best equipment on offer in a room specially designed for music production.’
Sol of Juliana Down agrees: ‘A good producer and engineer can make the difference between a quaint recording and a killer song. Equipment is just cold plastic and metal unless you have someone with the ear and experience to bring out the best in a recording.’
So what do you do? First of all, make sure you are making the best recording of the best song you have ever written – there’s no point in going to great expense to show your promise with filler. Then shop around – but get your budget ready and remember that prices will vary depending on what you want. Prices at Creative Kingdom (04 329 2054) vary depending on the number of instruments and musicians working on a project and how much post-production is required.
A band with two guitars, a vocalist and drums will have to fork out around Dhs8,000 for a fully produced song – but that includes analysis and input from a professional producer, and can take a week per song. On the other hand, that same band would pay around Dhs4,000 for a demo, in which an engineer records and mixes it as fast as possible. But it’ll cost considerably less if you’re one person with a guitar. Also, make sure you ask for an itemised quote; this is usually an hourly rate with other charges such as separate engineers, use of studio equipment and cost of burning CDs. But above all, be judicious in how you spend your budget: if you’ve got a song that could make you a household name, you need to take care of it.
Zahra showcases the latest local musical talent on Open Mic every Saturday from 8pm-10pm on Dubai Eye 103.8