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Chris Lago
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5th October 2010
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Average time to produce a song (Or album?)

Hey,

Just want to know how long it usually takes you guys to produce a full song, with recording/mixing/mastering in mind. Not interested to hear about beatmakers but more about full-time producers

Also, how long would it take to record a 10-11 tracks Cd?


I'm asking because I want to give the clients a better estimate. I don't want them to rush me when I could be spending a little bit more time to get their songs perfect.

I'm almost done producing my full album and It took me a year to record 13-14 songs (While I was going to school and producing other people). Would that be a good estimate of how long it usually takes if you're doing everything on your own?
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2-3 days per song, thats tracking/beatmaking/mixing/masteringprep.
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It all depends, kinda broad question because i know to go from no tracks on the MPC to a finished beat could take me a week. Not because it has a billion tracks but because i add or take out. I would say 2 days to make the track, 1 full day to record vocals, and another day to mix it, another day to do any changes, and i dont master so that would be up to the ME. Hope this helps
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That is a pretty quick turnaround time, for some odd reason I used to finish tracks in 2 days but now it's taking me more like 2 weeks, because I pay lots of attention to details and I automate the tracks to be exactly how I want them. Now the ultimate question is, when you guys are done with your songs, are they ready to go to the radio?!?

Are you guys telling me that it takes 2-3 days to make a radio quality track?

I'm talking, pro vocal editing, lining up the vocals, playing some of the parts, automating and riding the faders, EQing, Compressing etc. Could you guys post your tracks that were done in 2-3 days and that are as good production wise as what's on the radio right now?
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Average time to produce a song (Or album?)

That's really a tough question, it's also genre dependent and how much "hip-hop/pop producing" (ie writing, playing and programing every part) vs "traditional producing" (bringing in musicians etc).

It also depends on the genre.

Tradional folk (vocal, solo instrument) may take 2 hours to record 4 hours to mix.

Assuming I'm capable of writing and playing every part, which I sometimes am, a song will generally take me a day to "produce" (write, play, record/rough mix the music) with a couple hours for at least 1 day in the next week or so to go back and tweak things...

4-8 hours to record/produce vocals (depending on the talent, vibe and again, style of music)

4-8 hours to mix (and continue production)

2 or so hours to tweak the next couple of days.

If it's a situation with a full band it really depends on their preparedness. Generally some preproduction time, perhaps going to shows/rehearsals, hopefully time to cut rough demos, mix the rough demos and see where their sound should be...ideally (RARE)

4-8 hours for basic tracking, maybe more
4-8 hours for overdubs maybe more
4-8 hours for mixing maybe more

It really depends on the project and artist ultimately, but generally at least 3 (hopefully) non-consecutive days roughly. Per song.

I'm currently working on an album for a huge player on the independent (formally major label) hip-hop scene that has taken a month and a half of 3 days a week, 8-10 hrs per day...plus some stuff that we did around a year ago, and I've only done beats and replays in the 12th Hour...so again it varies ALOT project to project.

Plus you have to factor how you work individually, it may be very different than me (or even the artist!).

Good luck.
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I'm with Chris on this one.

I used to finish song in 3 days, but now it is taking me over a week a song. If I have, say 40 tracks (which is way below my average), between editing takes (lot 'o work here), vocals tuning and timing, eq, compress, delays, and other effects, I could spend days setting all that up before I get to actual mixing and automation. Track counts can go on to over a hundred, and time required to work on them is proportional to the amount of material involved.

Chris, if you're producing, engineering, editing, and mixing, then I'd give it a week a song. On top of that it's pretty tough to master your own mix without taking at least a few days for a head-space break from the song.
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Great and humble question - from my experience its all over the map.

Since the quality demand for certain genres is different from one to the other, it kinda begs the question - what genre? And seriously, of what quality? Its ok to say "radio ready" but.....that totally doesnt cut it as a descriptive in 2010.

Im not doubting you here. All respects. If theres any chance you could post a track from your new Cd youve worked on for a bit, thatd be cool. I swear to GOD I wont knock it or diss it. Id just like to hear. Or post something of that band youre producing to give a reference. Id love to check it out just to learn from.

Then I think, especially by other more seasoned studio cats here, a better assumption could be made on attaining THAT level of quality in "X" amount of time. Jus sayin.

I second the "take a week" per song notion - but thats pretty much solid time for a week on just that one song.
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Re: Average time to produce a song (Or album?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago

Also, how long would it take to record a 10-11 tracks Cd?
Haha, I've been working on a 11 song release for over 2 years now.... Dropping soon. Finally. Recorded about 200 songs to pick 11.

But I find if I work on 1 song for toooo long, I get "lost" in it and things just get different, not really better. Sometimes worse. Ha!

If god never invented the deadlines & budgets, I'd still be EQ'ing the kik on my first project ever.
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it takes me weeks because i have almost no idea what im doing...and a wife, baby, job, school... i wish i could just sit down and mess with a track for 8 hours...
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I usually spend 3 days on a "radio ready" mix. 1 day processing every sound for quality, the next getting the right mix, and the third automating and "finishing touches".. I spread it out because I get an overall better sound as it reduces ear fatigue on the same track. Ive seen people take a 3 weeks on a mix..Its all about the sound your trying to achieve
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Usually i´ll end up spending about 5 days on a track , From start to finish.

1 day making the track , 1 day recording the track , 3 days editing and mixing.

What takes the most amount of time is by far the Vocal editing.
Aligning , tuning , cleaning up 40 - 80 tracks is time consuming.

Then i usually mix the track one day and the next do the final tweaks with fresh ears.
If i also have to do the mastering i usually take a week off from that track and work
on something else and come back to it with fresh ears.

Example :

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The longest time would be spent recording vocals and getting a vocal arrangement correct.

Beats, i can do 10-15 beats in 2 days on a weekend.

Rappers usually take 3 hours to recorded a song.

Takes me about 3-4 hours to mix them

As far as "mastering" or finalizing, give me one day for the whole project.

So i say a week. did it several times last year.

Even after upgrading some equipment, I'd just add a day because of how tracking through outboard would be in real time.

Music is fairly easy... I say out of all the time you spend producing / writing / mixing - how many songs end up being hit songs?
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since this forum is Rap/Hip Hop

i will say that if you are "FULL TIME" you should be able to knock out MINIMUM 2 completed songs in a week

personally (PT hobby) if i work on a *beat* I won't work on it for more than a few hours max, save it, load it up the next day see how it sounds, change it-delete it-etc, when its ready/good enough then i'll dump 8-10 tracks inst avg to AA3 and rec 5-6 minutes make some minor adjustments and save the session

record vocals

hooks/ hook concept may come later

if everything is ready, mix 1-day, relisten next day make changes if needed

print

---

some of my fav albums were done in like 2 weeks

personally i don't believe that rap albums should take more than 3-4 months to do

especially when you listen to some of em, seems like it was done in 3 days
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for me it can be a few days, a few weeks, or a few months.

really depends on my schedule and the artists schedule.

the actual production and tracking is what takes the longest. the mix can go anywhere from 1 to 3 days per track including revisions. mastering is done by someone else usually but i'd say an hour per track is a good estimate. sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.
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@ Chris:

I don´t think there´s a good general answer to your question, just for the fact that every project is different.
It can take a couple of days, but also a couple of weeks sometimes, depending on the style of music and how extensive the track or session is.

I have been working on a lot of pop/soul projects lately, and it takes me much longer to complete those, than to complete a typical rap production.

When I was starting out, I liked to rush out as many songs as I could in a short period of time. Nowadays, I like to take my time to really perfect the song in every aspect.

One thing is funny though: You can work on a single song for weeks and weeks, thinking that it´s really perfect when you print the final master, but after a few months or years, you will always find something in that song that you will dislike afterwards.
I guess that´s part of being your own worst critic or staying sharp.
Shows that whatever you consider "perfect" today, might not withstand your own standarts later on in your carreer.

Realizing that has helped me to become a little less of a perfectionist.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgthefuture View Post
The longest time would be spent recording vocals and getting a vocal arrangement correct.

Beats, i can do 10-15 beats in 2 days on a weekend.

Rappers usually take 3 hours to recorded a song.

Takes me about 3-4 hours to mix them

As far as "mastering" or finalizing, give me one day for the whole project.

So i say a week. did it several times last year.

Even after upgrading some equipment, I'd just add a day because of how tracking through outboard would be in real time.

Music is fairly easy... I say out of all the time you spend producing / writing / mixing - how many songs end up being hit songs?
That answer (and many others you have given on here lately) clearly shows that you are a beatmaker while Chris was asking for opinions from full time producers.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealSon View Post
That answer (and many others you have given on here lately) clearly shows that you are a beatmaker while Chris was asking for opinions from full time producers.
uh oh..here comes the backlash!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgthefuture View Post
The longest time would be spent recording vocals and getting a vocal arrangement correct.

Beats, i can do 10-15 beats in 2 days on a weekend.

Rappers usually take 3 hours to recorded a song.

Takes me about 3-4 hours to mix them

As far as "mastering" or finalizing, give me one day for the whole project.

So i say a week. did it several times last year.

Even after upgrading some equipment, I'd just add a day because of how tracking through outboard would be in real time.

Music is fairly easy... I say out of all the time you spend producing / writing / mixing - how many songs end up being hit songs?
"music is fairly easy" - man, if only that were true.

A week for an album? wow. A good album?

Even mixing rap (where the backing may not change a great deal), I could spend 3-4hrs riding the vocals alone. I guess all depends on how much detail you go into - your mixes might be miles better than mine of course, so it might all be pointless, but I don't see how you can mix a track in 4hrs yet still pay attention to all the details. Then go on and mix another track or 2 that day, and keep it up for another 2-3 days.

Actually, looking at it like that, even working 12hr days, your schedule doesn't add up. I make that 24hrs for "beatmaking" (how I hate that term), 30hrs for vocal recording, 30-40hrs for mixing, 12hrs for mastering...that's 106hrs, or 9 12hr days. If you can keep perspective and churn out and album from start to finish in that time, I bow down to you - you're super human!
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on average.......2 days per song (not including mix), as of now ive been working on my boy album so far we have 4 songs (whole month) we are really trying to get it together.
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Sometimes this long, sometimes longer
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Ok it's good to hear everyone's workflow. I just find that it can take weeks to really perfect everything, adding the right amount of delay on specific parts etc.

By the way, I'll be posting my album in the Good News section, got the the artwork yesterday and it looks really good.

I mean, for an instrumental, last night I finished an artist's song in 2 hours, but I'll need to mix it, fix the vocals a bit more, add delays at specific parts, automate etc and It's going to take a little time to do all this.
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And Ill say once again boys....

We can all talk here until we're blue in the face but unless we know WHAT LEVEL OF QUALITY YOURE REALLY TALKING about Chris, this whole thread is going to be full of all kinds of assumptions and therefore misinformation.

This conversation here is bull and a waste of time unless theres something to be gauged here. And we dont need you to post a Phil Collins song and ask "how long for this". No, Chris - we'd need to hear what material YOURE working on. To say "radio ready" in 2010 is about a vague as you could get. Im not sure if youre kicking out the quality like major studios do, nor working with the kinds of musicians they do that truly make things faster.

You got all these GearSlutz chiming in who all do different levels of quality in their productions - do you REALLY think youre doing any kind of scientific deduction here? Come on Chris, I was really giving you the benefit of the doubt here but you didnt even address what I wrote to you above.

Youre not scared of me, are you?

Please Chris - to be remotely professional about the question youre asking, how about giving a song of yours or the clients your mixing up so we can gauge what level of quality youre looking for. Otherwise, all this topic is is one big, large, ugly conjecture.

Seriously - please be professionally minded enough to realize what youre asking without providing a relative example is impossible to answer. Now, you do get that right?

Everyone else can play along and give their answer, but unless they/we know the type of quality YOU expect or need, how can they remotely be accurate?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RasCricket View Post
And Ill say once again boys....

We can all talk here until we're blue in the face but unless we know WHAT LEVEL OF QUALITY YOURE REALLY TALKING about Chris, this whole thread is going to be full of all kinds of assumptions and therefore misinformation.

This conversation here is bull and a waste of time unless theres something to be gauged here.

You got all these GearSlutz chiming in who all do different levels of quality in their productions - do you REALLY think youre doing any kind of scientific deduction here? Come on Chris, I was really giving you the benefit of the doubt here but you didnt even address what I wrote to you above.

Youre not scared of me, are you?

Please Chris - to be remotely professional about the question youre asking, how about giving a song of yours or the clients your mixing up so we can gauge what level of quality youre looking for. Otherwise, all this topic is is one big, large, ugly conjecture.

Seriously - please be professionally minded enough to realize what youre asking without providing a relative example is impossible to answer. Now, you do get that right?
Hey,

I'll give you 2 examples that aren't typically Hip-Hop but more RNB/Pop/Hip-Hop.

For example Tayo Cruz Dynamite. Now I doubt that Dr. Luke had that song finished in a week.

Akon- Smack That, You listen to the song and there's a lot of automation going on with the strings, I doubt it took a week to finish that song.

Let me post a song, hang on.
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At our facility, it isn't uncommon to finish two COMPLETE songs in three days. Three 12-hour sessions. Day 1: production/songwriting. Day 2: extra instrumentation/vocal recording. Day 3: mixing. We'll usually come back to them the following morning for minor adjustments, then off to mastering.

BTW, this happens OFTEN.
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For me, 2 to 3 days for a full complete song minus mastering, radio quality. And I do everything myself, I make the track, write the lyrics, record it all, and then mix it. If I had help I could do whole tracks in a day and half max, again radio quality.
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Sounds like you should be looking at booked hours instead of how many days, because that's really what it comes down to.

It takes me about a month per tune on my own stuff...but I generally only work on it about 1-2 hours a day, sometimes taking 2-3 days off depending on my ears and frame of mind.

Of course you probably don't have 4 kids running around screaming in your ears several times a day..or have to work around the wife running the dishwasher directly above your studio when you have a great idea for a vocal take...lol
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Average time to produce a song (Or album?)

This is all variant of the client/talent. If they can perform the tracks...I've spent days fixing drum tracks and hours making the fills. I'm finding more and more musicians are mostly big talk but when comes time to face a click track ego's crumble. This also depends on if the material is actually written and finished or if it's a musical playground. Also how many layers of instruments there are going to be.
For me between working a full time day gig, band rehearsals, family commitments about a week or two per song.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Vogel View Post
Sounds like you should be looking at booked hours instead of how many days, because that's really what it comes down to.

It takes me about a month per tune on my own stuff...but I generally only work on it about 1-2 hours a day, sometimes taking 2-3 days off depending on my ears and frame of mind.

Of course you probably don't have 4 kids running around screaming in your ears several times a day..or have to work around the wife running the dishwasher directly above your studio when you have a great idea for a vocal take...lol
Lol, Good point. By myself, 24 to 36 "booked hours". If I had help that knew what they were doing about 12 to 18 "booked hours". Which is right in line with the "pros". The reason why It takes me long by myself because I find it easier to get the whole vocal layed down in one pass than to comp multiple takes together.
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It takes me at least 60 hours to produce a track basically. I spend most of my time tuning clients vocals, and honestly I'm getting sick of it, I might send it elsewhere soon.

Here's a song I co-produced:

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
It takes me at least 60 hours to produce a track basically. I spend most of my time tuning clients vocals, and honestly I'm getting sick of it, I might send it elsewhere soon.
So, of that 60 hours, you spend more than 30 of them tuning vocals?!?!? Eesh.

Why not try spending a bit more time getting a decent (and in-tune!!) performance? That'd probably save you a shitload of time...and headache
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Quote:
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It takes me at least 60 hours to produce a track basically. I spend most of my time tuning clients vocals, and honestly I'm getting sick of it, I might send it elsewhere soon.
Well, editing is a bitch.

I just finished up a song I wrote in about 20 minutes. Took me a good month and a half at my pace to record everything...but granted; at least I hope, your clientel PRACTICES their FINISHED songs before they ask you to hit the record button!

My gear is (very) low end, but here's a month and a half of 1-2 hour sessions (25 tracks):
SoundClick artist: Ron Vogel - One man band
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