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How would you divide a budget for a new album
Old 5th July 2019
  #1
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sfilipee's Avatar
 

How would you divide a budget for a new album

So, without even thinking about numbers, how would you percentagewise divide a budget right away, between recording, mixing, mastering. You, as a band, a producer, an A&R guy - whoever - are given or have X amount to get the album done, how would you do it?

This thread actually came from a convo I had with a fairly known mixing engineer who told me most people invest more money in wrong part of making an album, but I'll get into that and my opinion later.
Old 6th July 2019
  #2
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bowzin's Avatar
Well one thing that's nice is you can scratch the CD duplication budget, or go with a way cheaper option as a promo type product vs. the primary release. It used to be important for us to get the "real" silver colored CD's, full-size plastic jewel case, full-color booklet, shrink-wrapped, etc. Make it look profesh, even though it was self-released. Now a days that is thousands of dollars we can just skip, or choose a far cheaper option like burned cd's in thin cardboard cases as a handout/promotional type thing.
Old 6th July 2019
  #3
yep
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Every record is different, and this is where an experienced producer is invaluable in terms of planning and budgeting.

But in general, a pretty good starting point is to budget for roughly equal chunks of studio time for tracking, overdubs, and mixing. This approach has the neat effect that projects that are a time-consuming PITA during tracking tend to be a PITA come overdubs and mixing, and vice-versa. One of many reasons that pros put a lot of effort into pre production and getting the tracking right, while amateurs take a sloppy and undisciplined approach to tracking with a “fix it in the mix” mentality, which is increasingly becoming a “fix it in mastering” mentality (it drives me nuts when people make excuses for mixes on the basis that “it’s not mastered yet, so you can’t compare it to radio songs...”)

In general, if you’re spending more than 10% of the mixing budget on mastering, you should be spending more on mixing, or less on mastering.
Old 6th July 2019
  #4
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfilipee View Post
This thread actually came from a convo I had with a fairly known mixing engineer who told me most people invest more money in wrong part of making an album, but I'll get into that and my opinion later.
If only people invested more time in preproduction and rehearsal.

Everybody thinks they are a "studio musician", but there is a difference between a guy who can really play, and a guy who can walk in cold and sound like he's been playing with this band for 10 years. Rehearsal studios cost a fraction of recording studio time, and the musicians usually charge less as well.

For self-contained Bands, rehearsals are hopefully taken care of, always a good idea to schedule your tracking right at the end of a tour or string of gigs.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine just had a singer still scribbling lyrics in the booth.....

I kind of agree with yep, I always had in mind that rough rule of thumb - one third each for tracking overdubbing and mixing. Maybe that's really Old School, I don't know. A lot of people however don't know how to properly estimate these things ahead of time, so saying that advice doesn't help. They often severely underestimate how long things take, are shocked to discover how much time overdubbing sucks up, for example, and run out of money for mixing and mastering. tty accurate, even if people think a first

I had a guy in doing a soundtrack who asked for a rough reference mix, so he could 'study' it. Instead he handed that in to the filmmakers, and as far as I know that was what ended up in the film.

After pre-production I think mastering is the most 'neglected' area of concentration for inexperienced artists. I may not always think of it in terms of budget myself since I tend to recommend outside mastering. I mean a 'real' mastering engineer. I am not sure exactly how to define that, but I sure know it when I hear it. Maybe: a guy who does mastering full-time, and not a guy who says he records, mixes, masters and mows lawns.
Old 6th July 2019
  #5
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
Hiring pro session musicians is cheaper than paying an engineer his hourly rate to edit cousin bob's trainwreck drums, uncle jimmy's erratic guitars and tune your girlfriend's background vocals. Paying an arranger to make proper sheet music parts for session musicians is way cheaper than having said musicians in the studio for 3 times the time while you "teach" them their parts or worse ask them to make ones up.

I'm with Joe - don't cheap on mastering. Go to a specialist, not the kid in a garage on craigslist/facebook special.
Old 6th July 2019
  #6
Quote:
So, without even thinking about numbers, how would you percentagewise divide a budget right away, between recording, mixing, mastering. You, as a band, a producer, an A&R guy - whoever - are given or have X amount to get the album done, how would you do it?
You have to think about the numbers. That show you come up with a budget. Below are other things you need to know before making a budget for a full length album. There are too many unknowns to come up with a percentage.

1. How many band members? (the more members, the longer the recording session will be)
2. How many songs on the album? The difference between recording 10 songs and 13 songs is tremendous when paying for recording time)
3. What are the skill levels of these made up musicians. (do they need more studio time because of their skill levels?)
4. Ware are they located at? (some areas have cheaper places to record)
Old 6th July 2019
  #7
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ThorSouthshire's Avatar
It all depends on your/the bands strengths and weaknesses, and where you are in your career. If I wasn't a decent producer I'd spend my money on a good one first, then mix. If I was short on money I wouldn't throw away my money on an expensive studio. You can record anything anywhere these days so it's a simply a matter of talent and rehearsals. Make it sound good in any room and you don't have to worry about the room sounding good. If you can afford a studio then of course do it, it will sound 1000 times better but the performance is ultimately what matters.
Old 6th July 2019
  #8
Gear Nut
 

I have next to zero experience in regards to being the one doing the recording professionally but, I have played in a lot of bands over the years. When I was the one “in charge” of the band, we would not be playing anywhere, studio situation or live gigs, until we could play what we were wanting to play in our sleep. Being well rehearsed is the key to success in my opinion. I have some slop that I record by myself that I use to hash out original ideas and to help me learn how to record and mix better but that is different from an “album”.

I have a couple of guys that I play classic rock and country covers in a mostly acoustic style trio with who want to record some demos. I keep telling them that it’s not hardly worth the trouble of me setting up all the mics while we still suck. The only benefit to recording ourselves at the moment is that it is helping me learn more about improving the quality of the “sound” while tracking live in a small, treated space. I can’t do much about the “playing” if we don’t get together more than a couple of times a month. They want to be “serious” but don’t want to or can’t put in the “time”. It can’t work both ways. Either we rehearse till we are tight and on autopilot or, we are just three guys who dick around and have fun once every couple of weeks. I am cool with either.

I wouldn’t want to toss away money in a studio because I wasn’t ready to play the songs frontwards and backwards.
Old 26th July 2019
  #9
I would look at it in reverse. Work out who you’d ideally use to master, mix, where you’d want to record. Time for recording is harder to guesstimate but for most bands plan on 2 days/song and you should be ok. If you’re well rehearsed, you’ll have time to spare if you’re doing several tracks at once, which means you’ll enjoy it more and hopefully be more creative.

Then - you’ve got your ideal budget. Assuming it’s more than you can afford, you need to look at where to cut corners. Maybe a couple of days from tracking if the project is big; maybe a cheaper mx or mastering guy in the same style, or try to cut a deal.

The absolute best option if you’re self funding is don’t make an album at all. Unless you’ve got a massive following and people desperate for material, an EP is a much better idea - quicker, cheaper and most people won’t be fussed by all 12 songs in the first place - at local band level it’s a vanity project. Heck, one of the biggest buzz bands here at the moment is only doing singles this year - they’re getting massive attention for each one though!
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