questions about self production

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by satumma, Jun 23, 2011.

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  1. satumma

    satumma Active Member

    Jun 19, 2011
    I am doing a grad student portfolio on six songs that I self produced, These are the main questions about my own recording process that I will be writing about, any insights?

    Why self produce?
    Is self production commercially viable?
    Why not self produce?
    Would it be preferable to work in a studio with other producers and engineers than self produce?
    Would it be helpful to have recorded in a studio with a producer first?
    Overcoming technical and/or musical limitations?
    Balancing time between technical tasks and music making?
    Remaining objective about the quality of the recordings?
    Judging when the work is finished?
    Staying motivated, creating goals?
    Making money with self produced projects?

  2. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    good questions!
  3. satumma

    satumma Active Member

    Jun 19, 2011
    thanks gdoubleyou, do you self produce?
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    The first five are questions and the next five, even though you've posed them as questions, are REASONS to seek outside production. The last one is something that only you as an artist can fulfill.
  5. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    yep, can't afford to hire a REAL producer.

    That's a lot of questions, you should make a new thread by each, then we won't feel like we're answering a survey for a research paper!
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    There is no truthful answer to this. Why? Because it is the music business. The music business is a dark trench full of shills, pimps, cheats, lies, hype, trends and fashion, ego's, delusions of grandeur motivated by money and fame. And then there is the innocent just wanting to say it the way it is.
    The true art is never heard by the mass and if it is, its usually only when others can exploit it, spin it to make money off of it., steered by the people whom control how it is made popular.
    Not one way is the right way. There is no right answer to your questions.
    Some of us are lucky to make a living with our passion without loosing our integrity or spirit along the way.

    I hope you are of the new generation that changes this for the better.

    "whether you think you can or you can't, you are exactly right"

    And then there is Lady Gaga " you'd be surprised how popular you get when you take your clothes off"
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Geez, audiokid, aren't we dark today...LOL!!!
    The fact is, very few people of any ilk, but especially arteests, have the objectivity, foresight, and self-discipline to pull off a "self-produced" project WELL. Not to mention technical integrity, business acumen, patience, and overall "people skills" required.
    I think I'll write a book and call it, "It Takes a Producer"......
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:

    Lol, I just finished watching MTV

    Yup, negative but not jaded or distracted from reality ( the entertainment industry). Once I figured this out I was never out of work and try not to take it too personal. Negative yes, because I know many great songs and wonderfully talented people ( including my friends) are never heard because there simply isn't enough time in a 24 hour period to put them all into the major radio station playlists. Repetition creates popularity so there is a science to it beyond all the raw talent in the world.
    Good title "It Takes a Producer"...... and you've nailed the art of producing down to a some good points. To be able to get through it all take's a special person and why I mention Lady Gaga. She's definitely talented and great at producing a complete package.
    She stated the clothing thing a few days ago on David Letterman. I think she is brilliant but my point is, its sad we've gotten to the stage where showing skin to kiddies, having to be a freak show is how you get through the cracks quicker than the fully dressed or less pimp like. Its all about show business and once you figure that one out, all the doors start opening.
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    No, audiokid, I understand completely where you are coming from. I realize that you aren't bitter, that you ARE able to do what you truly love to do and can do it to support your beautiful family. This is a true blessing. I didn't have the patience for that, and now it has been a (very good most of the time) second income. It is MY blessing that I have another field to support me with benefits that I desperately need at this stage in my life. Believe me, it gets better with time...:)
    I blame it all on that damned MTV...LOL!!!!!!
    I'm off to the Bahamas for the 4th! Peace to all and thank God for our freedoms!
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    YES! MTV is to blame because it forces us to see the song in a different POV than how we are imagining it. If you are young, 12 years old say... , love can have a completely different meaning than what it means to an adult, or anyone for that matter. So, showing/ forcing a child to see (witness) a Ménage à trois in a song that has a trendy beat is shocking and not helpful or inspiring to the world of sound, spirit and imagination.

    MTV, music video's are the demise of music. I wish it never happened.
    In Canada, music videos ruined the live music scene and was a big reason why I got off the road. What total humiliation and sadness to have gone through that evolution.
    Music video's continue to pollute society, fool the general public into believing that good musician are perfect robots. They take away our innocent imagination and distract us from experiencing something that should be a personal experience, soulful and a personal journey within our minds.
    I believe music video's have a very negative effect on the world and our music industries health and is another reason why the last 20 years is increasingly sounding more and more uninspired and boring. We are breading and rewarding generations of distracted people that aren't even musicians (WTF). Most is a total lie and a fantasy world gone way too far IMHO. What a gong show of s e x , leather, tough guy, bathing suits, body builders, inner city KAOS dancing the night away. ROTF.

    I know you know what I mean, I think we all know this. Thanks for the compliments and I so wish I was going on that trip with you. Its been a very cold and wet start to summer here.

    Amen to Freedom. But are we really free?
  11. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

    Jun 24, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Do they even play music on MTV? I just thought it stood for Money Television Video these days.

    Also, I think it was Hunter S. Thompson that said "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
    I am not all that certain that was really a direct quote from HST, but I think it relates well to audiokid's prior post.
  12. satumma

    satumma Active Member

    Jun 19, 2011
    If you look at certain trends it makes sense that there is rise in the number of people who are
    taking on the task of self production, aka home recording. On both the hardware and the software
    sides of the equation you see easier access to the tools that musicians need to record at home.
    Garage Band and its windows companions are nearly free or very cost effective, a trimmed down, but
    highly functional, version of pro tools can be had for $100 with a basic interface. So it makes
    sense that more and more musicians are recording themselves with home equipment.

    The upside to this trend is that more and more musicians will have access to getting their music
    recorded, which means that there is a better chance that people will hear this music.
    Statistically, the more music that is being made the greater the chance that really great songs
    will be made. In the past there was a filtering mechanism in place to decide which artists and
    bands could get their music recorded. The music industry, record labels, A&R people used to be the
    gatekeepers to studio access. Without the green light from the industry bands would have minimal
    chance of getting their songs recorded in a studio and heard by the general public. Even in this
    era of limited studio access there was still more music than could be reasonably consumed by
    everyone, hence the existence of radio and marketing to try to pair listeners with music.

    It can be argued, and I think justifiably, that some sort of filtering mechanism needs to be in
    place to bring the better quality music to the broader public. Even though there is now an
    abundance of music being made, there is so much recorded music that very few of us have time to
    evaluate all of it to find the gems from the coal. Many people just wait for the "good stuff" to
    float to the top and be recognized before taking a chance.

    So from an artist's point of view, being able to cheaply and easily record your music in your own
    studio is a great opportunity. But then getting that music heard is a challenge that far exceeds
    the actual songwriting and recording. Much is being written about artists promotion in the age of
    "music 3.0"

    While I think its important to talk about getting music out and marketed and paying for itself I
    feel there is a lack of information in the area between "what gear to buy" and "how to market your
    music". In particular there is very little talk about the issues that are unique to a self
    production situation, information, that if available, would help raise the overall success rate
    and quality of self produced recordings.

    My challenge then is to try to find out what these issues are, try to gather together successful
    strategies and then make them available for others so that when confronted with one of these
    roadblacks there is a resource available to turn to. Much in the same way that musicians would
    seek out technical resources to an issue.

    From my own observation it seems that many of the tricks of the trade used by professional
    producers are passed down through the work done in professional studios. Many of these techniques
    can be useful to home studio producers as well. But at the same time, there are also situations
    that are more specific to self production that have no clear way of being shared from one person
    to the next. The obvious place to look for this information might be online forums, videos and
    blogs. Is there also a need for this information in the formal educational system dedicated to
    recording? I think so.

    So what are these unique challenges and opportunities to self produced musicians? I have a list of
    some that come from my own experience working in my home studios for years, but I believe that
    there is also other ideas that people have come up with that stem from their own experiences as
    well. That is what I am looking for.
  13. Todzilla

    Todzilla Active Member

    May 12, 2003
    Neuse River Watershed
    Home Page:
    Self production is great in that it's cheaper and you always have your producer available.

    Otherwise, a professional set of objective ears is better.
  14. Bertrand Batz

    Bertrand Batz Active Member

    May 20, 2010
    I just quit a self producced project of kinda 6 years, this weekend. With a band of very close friends.

    From my experience I can tell the answers depend on some things...

    What are your goals? Are you doing it for fun, music that your friends and local people will like, or are you trying to reach for a bigger public? Or else are you trying to have a good recorded demo so you can start sending your material to big guys with contacts on the business?

    It's music only? Or do you have a big picture/concept/image you want to pass forward?

    When you talk about self production, do you mean doing everything at home? Recording, mixing, mastering?

    When you talk about self production, do you mean doing everything so the cost is as close as possible to zero? Or do you plan to inject an extra cash when it comes to doing things you aren't very sure about?

    The more ambitious and willing to do-it-all-yourself you are, the more you're gonna need to study and test etc, and the more time it will take for you to have a finished material. So my advice is to use the best of both worlds...You can study/read/test a lot about recording, so you can have nicely recorded tracks. It will take some time. If you also decide to mix your stuff at home, you have to spend something in money(decent monitoring, etc) + time(studying/reading/testing). Mastering is something you 'can do' at home but with no result close to what you'd get from professional service.

    So why not 'specializing' in having decent workable tracks, saving cash, so you can inject this cash at sending it out to be professionaly mixed and mastered? Now if your budget is as tight as a 1850 prostitute's corset, take a good deal of time to study/read/test about mixing stuff. Try and figure out the plugins etc used to 'master at home', so you can have some finished material. But this stuff also takes time.

    So anyways it will be costly. If not spending money, you're gonna spend a good deal of time. The advantage of doing your work in a professional studio with a producer you trust and pay is that probably the producer is experienced and have already took time enough to know the whole stuff you would have to figure out. So you can concentrate on playing/singing and having some1 taking care of technical details and what mic to use to record what amp etcetcetc.

    When self producing, it's very easy to get lost in aimless wanking, and it's also easy to fool yourself into thinking your material is good enough. I've read something like 'For some people, recording their own work is like an eternal going process, like gardening. You come home from work, mess with some knobs, test some effects, new lines of melodies, whatever you're in mood for the day. It's not exactly a wrong thing if it's a hobby. But you're not gonna have a finished CD in short-medium-term-future.'

    Then if you are self produccing you really hafta prioritize and know your limitations. So you have to make sortta planning, and focus not to reinvent the wheel. If you try to get to perfection, then it's the kiss of death. Finished is always better than perfect.

    If by self produccing you also mean having an image/concept, wich means having a decent site, communication through social network, marketing your work, visual stuff, then self produccing can get even worse.

    It's what happened with this band I just quit. And is still happening, and I have no idea of when can they have a finished material. We were a conceptual thing, strong lyrics with a lot of ideological messages to it. We also had a visual appeal, and lots of ambitions as to being a totally new and original band. But we had no cash. Conclusion, 7 years have passed and we still have a site wich is not totally finished and online, songs not totally recorded, our visual, clothes, and makeups etc aren't totally bought, so we had a lot of insights wich in the real practical world have been impossible to accomplish, because there were so many fronts to work at alltogether and so few resources, we couldn't finish a thing. It's a bitter lesson I've taken, and a mistake I won't allow myself to make again. All this working with site stuff and visual and bureaucratic processess just sucked my whole inspiration out through the years, then I decided to run away from it. Then the members that left now still try to do it all, I don't know, maybe for the next 2/3/4/5 years?

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