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How to: Independent Release and Home Studios

If you’ve got an act, and you’re up and coming throughout the gigging scene, it’s probably a good idea to start looking into recording an EP, in order to distribute to gain fans and ultimately a record deal. Unfortunately, these days to book a studio as well as time with a producer (that you may not entirely trust artistically) the bill for such a production can start to climb through the roof.

When it comes to home studios and independent release, you might find yourself saving money as well as making a long term investment in your personal recording studio.

Depending on what sort of band you have will definitely impact on the size, style and equipment you’re going to need for a home studio. For a three to four piece alternative band, it’s reasonably easy, especially if you’ve done your research and you know what you’re after.

First, naturally, you’re going to need your instruments and your own music. While yes, you can cover songs and record them for your own personal use, it’s actually illegal to distribute any copies due to copyright laws. So if you’re going to be recording covers, give the record label of the owners a call and see what you’re entitled to in terms of their tracks. It could be costly, however, so think wisely.

Computers and Software

Next you’re going to need a decent computer (preferably a Mac), recording equipment, effects pedals (depending on your style), as well as knowledge of how it all fits together. The Mac is an ideal choice when it comes to recording music, as not only is it far superior when it comes to artistic projects, such as film and music hobbies, it also has a decent program on it called Garage Band.

Ultimately, Garage Band is a starting point for recording your own music. With literally thousands of samples to choose from, as well enabling you to record your own tracks and place them on a timeline, the program gives you the simplest – and yet the best for its quality.

In Garage Band, or any other music program available, you are able to record and input your own separate tracks from your recordings, place them on a time line and move them around as you see fit. Because of this, you are also able to alter the tone, pitch and add some effects to the part which tends to help the producing of the actual songs along. With extra technology, you’ll find that you can turn a normal riff on a guitar without effects, into something that sound extraordinary.

Be sure to check out tutorials through the program, and even check out Youtube for extra video tutorials that can teach you some nifty tricks.

Recording Method

The best way to go about recording is to record each part of the song separately. So, record all the guitar parts separate from the other instruments several times to give you the best take. Think of it like making a film. Several takes of film have to be taken of the exact same scene to ensure you’ve got choice when it comes to the final cut of your project.
Lather, rinse and repeat for the rest of the parts.

Once each has been chosen and suitably fit together, you are able to start processing the parts through your music program of choice, as well as add effects and produce the track as you see fit. Remember to consider how well each part of the song has been timed to ensure you’re all sticking within the same time signature, and the key of the song doesn’t clash with any parts. Naturally, that comes with practice and knowledge – Try and get as many opinions as possible before making your final cut on the piece, to save time and effort of redoing the song hundreds of times over.

It can be done!

This is just a simple guide to producing your own tracks, naturally it’s going to be a longer process. Depending on what kind of music you’re making, as well as the amount of effects pedals that you’re using can entirely change how long the process takes.
For instance, in 2006, Australian born Wally DeBacker recording his sophomore album under the name Gotye. This album took him a year to record – but did so independently and within the constraints of his bedroom.

The album was a roaring success, and a masterpiece for the incredibly talented DeBacker, which proves that even if you don’t have the cash to produce your own record, you can still do so in your own bedroom.

It’s not just Gotye who did this, however. Independent releases take place every single day, simply through the recording process being undertaken without a signing to a record company. Contracts for top-end record companies only come by every so often for talented bands, so there’s no reason why you can’t jump start your own career and record an album to get the word out, and potentially start the gigging process if you haven’t already begun that.

Independent releases usually start out more localised. Once its released (the production of the physical album may cost you, so think about how many copies you’re really going to need) start spreading the album within your area. Give it to your friends, give them copies to give to their friends. Send some to your radio station – if you’ve got an independent radio station, even better! Drop by your independent record store, see if they’ll hand out or sell some. Even consider going to gigs to hand out your latest record. The amount of people that do this these days is astonishing, and rather clever at the same time. Pick the right demographic and you’re going to hit your target audience with your album, and hopefully gain some fans in the process.

So remember these few steps:

  • Get your band together, sort out what you want to record.
  • Find your equipment – You’re going to need a few good aux-in cables, a decent computer to record on, microphones, your instruments, and any effect pedals you’re going to require.
  • Record the songs, as separate tracks before pulling them all together.
  • Get opinions! They are what’s going to do your band best – You can all be biased and not realise it.
  • Once you’ve recorded your EP, find a way to produce the physical album. Whether this is just by burning your own copies, or taking it to a company that will print the cd as well as the album for a price.
  • Get it out there! Send as many as you can and get the word out. It’s going to do you a world of good, hopefully book you some more gigs, and get the attention of a record company.

Good luck!

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