Last week, I posted five guidelines I share with people I work with about the demo (recording) process. For those of you interested, having children, relatives, friends, taking the plunge along the musical Yellow Brick Road, this might give you some things to think about.
Feel free to post comments or ask questions. I don't know it all, but I DO KNOW PEOPLE WHO DO!

#6. HAVE A STUDIO BUDGET. Knowing what your application is, knowing what you need in recording that will represent you best, is very important. You need to know HOW MUCH YOU HAVE TO SPEND. The studio experience can often have twists and turns and unexpected costs. So being UP FRONT and having a dialogue about what you are paying for in a recording studio helps to know what you can get.

Many studios are willing to make deals or packages. And I would be SLOW AND METHODICAL. Doing three songs at a time instead of six or a full album, might be good to give you time to get used to it and reflect. You don’t HAVE to do twelve or fifteen song albums anymore. Very few people outside of loyal fans listen to full albums. So doing fewer songs at a time and having repeated sessions help in this respect.

#7. SHOP STUDIOS. There are literally thousands of studios, individuals, multi-instrumentalists. All should be checked out. Different prices, different processes. Again, personally, to me, there is nothing like having four or five players who are very good, all playing at the same time. There is something about the electricity, the attitudes, and the MAGIC that great musicians do, that makes the recordings magic. And they can bring their own production qualities together. But that is not always possible or cost effective. So again, the application needs to be determined.

#8. DEVELOP A STUDIO RELATIONSHIP. This actually should come earlier in the process, but I am hoping people read all of these, and then make some decisions. Many, many, or even, most, people that own studios or recording equipment are songwriters themselves. So, developing great FRIENDSHIPS, as well as creative working relationships with people we work with is PARAMOUNT in a music career. Younger people needing experience, colleges, music trade schools can often offer some experimentation at a reasonable cost. Having co-writers who own recording equipment and know how to use it, can be of great benefit.

#9. BE AWARE. You never know where songs are going to end up. Much of social networking is one person sharing music with friends, family and their own social networks, which can lead to some interesting places. People do their own slideshows on their own web sites. which is a two-edged sword. We need to get music “out there”, but much of that requires that people use it for FREE. Getting paid is the really tough problem in the era of “free music.” That is a debate for another place. My concerns are that you are ALWAYS REPRESENTED WELL. VISIBILITY IS VIABILITY. The more you are seen and heard, the better your chances to advance your career.

#10. THINK VIDEO. Something we all have to be aware of now is the elements of VIDEO, involved with our music. Now, everything is a Cell phone video moment. YOU TUBE, FACEBOOK, are movers and shakers when it comes to public opinion. So having some VIDEO involved with a song, is a positive thing to promote the artist and the song. Again, with technology it doesn’t take hundreds of millions of dollars, huge production set ups, casts and crew, to do something. A decent camera set up, telling a simple story or seeing the singer sing the song, helps overall for an audience to appreciate who is singing. Or, even doing a ”slideshow” element with pictures, put to reflect the song, is interesting to look at. If people are thinking of doing a “single release” now, it is very important. So, keeping that in your budget costs are important.

Recording in all phases take thought, planning and investigation. The simplest form? LISTEN TO OTHER PEOPLE’S RECORDINGS. Ask friends who they use. With all the web sites, YOU TUBE, etc. there is no shortage of selections. And like everything when it comes to music. One person leads to another, which leads to another. Spending a little time, talking to people, should yield a lot of results.

Always one chance to make a bad first impression, so make sure you think what you do through. You never know where it’s going to end up. Good luck and good recording.

by Marc Alan Barnette