Are you guys having to deal with home recordings and are any of the ingredients incorporated into your productions?
I think this very much depends what you mean by 'deal'!
I have worked on several albums over that last few years where the artists have done a considerable amount of work at home during the writing stage which becomes part of the final recording.
In fact the album I am currently working on has had the larger proportion recorded at the artists studio.
This is very useful but I have noticed a few things which could be improved by better products on offer and more interaction within the industry.
Most artists don't know about the finer points of recording and the most likely products they use don't help them through the maze. Most software recording packages are far too complicated for the average artist who doesn't want to know about the technical stuff. Things like word clocks and sample rates are often ignored with 'difficult' consequences.
I have run a masterclass for a project called Take Five which is run by Serious Management on behalf of the PRS and Jerwood Foundations. This takes 8 rising star jazz musicians and gives them a year of industry mentoring. I spend 3 days with them going through 'Recording Techniques for the Musician'. It has proved to be a big hit and gives them a much better understanding of how to use their options creatively.
Technology can be as much of a hindrance as a help if used badly and I have met several artists who have picked up a real fear of it as a result of badly conformed (and designed) software and hardware.
The marketing of this equipment doesn't help either because we are all led to believe that all of it is of 'professional standard' - whatever that is!
It is the application of equipment by creative people using knowledge coupled with experience enabling the informed choices that makes the difference.
I also think it is important to note that music is surely a collaborative art and making music in studio environments is different from sitting alone in your garage. So many artists who get into the business with self made albums jump into a studio at the first opportunity.
Furthermore, the difference that having good engineers and producers helping to develop ideas into a bigger perspective must be attractive and the value of a large format console, a selection of microphones and outboard to compliment the other technology cannot be easily dismissed, as has been pointed out in other threads by my colleagues.
Like Tony, I've worked on projects where some of the final recording components originated from the artists so-called demos. It doesn't matter to me where the performances come from - there's no distinction these days between demo & master, anyway.
It can pose challenges sometimes, if the technical quality is not great, although that must always be secondary to the performance. One example I had was mixing a track for Paul Brady's album; "Spirits Colliding". The track had been built up from one of Pauls demo recording in ADAT. He has recorded the live acoustic rhythm guitar and vocal onto the same track!
Along with Tony and Mike G, I also agree that you take the good stuff where you find it. On "Souvenir" by OMD the middle 8 section uses choir voices they had recorded when a local choir used their sound room for practise - they were singing long notes gradually moving up the scale and the band recorded each note on a different parallel track. We could make chords by bringing up different groups of faders - a kind of do-it-yourself Mellotron. Admittedly their "home" studio had a 16 track Studer! The keyboard melody that was a crucial part on that track also came from a Korg Micro Preset that sounded like nothing until they put it through a cheap spring reverb - I insisted on them bringing that down to London for the session.
I think that it has often been the case where elements from the "demo" have found their way on to the "master". The reason for using the quotation marks is that it is not always the case that the demo is inferior to the master, some may say especially with my stuff, however that's another matter! There was (is) one particular artist that I've worked with intensively where demo parts or recordings made significant contributions to the final master. One world wide hit has the signature keyboard part transferred from cassette! There is an argument that with the advent of digital technology the problem of using home recorded stuff is less problematic but counter to that standpoint is the fact that there is considerably more opportunity to screw the thing up now.
Generally though I applaud the artist taking the stance that they have done something they think is marvellous and want it on their album.