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Find a Studio
Studio facilities vary in what they offer, and by extension, what they charge. Before deciding on where to record, it is worth asking other people about their experiences.
It is important that a studio should be able to meet the needs of the composer/songwriter/band. If a live recording is planned of an orchestra, then the studio will need to be large enough to accommodate everyone. Conversely, a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar is unlikely to need a huge space or highly sophisticated facilities.
An indication of what type of composer/songwriter/band a studio is geared towards could be provided by a list of who has recently recorded there. This might be listed on the website, or could be requested if it is not.
Even if a studio is at the upper end of the price spectrum, this does not guarantee that it equipped to the requirements for certain recordings. If a spec list is not available on the website, it is worth requesting one.
Some studios are residential and offer accommodation, which might be useful if a recording is done a long way from where the musicians are based. These facilities allow recording to take place 24 hours and save in terms of travel time.
It is worth shopping around and inquiring if there are special rates available for recording during the night or at other quiet times. Does the facility offer a discount for members of organisations such as the Musicians' Union?
Moreover, asking what is included in the quoted price is also important and a breakdown in what is offered should be obtained in writing. It is usual for the house engineer's services, equipment and use of instruments to be included in the price. However, 'mixing' and 'mastering' a recording usually involves an additional charge.
Some studios offer a package which provides a finished product and includes all elements involved in producing that product.
Is a producer necessary?
Studios have an in-house engineer, who looks after the technical aspects of a recording and is familiar with the with the studio's equipment.
On recordings destined for a commercial release, an outside engineer and producer are often enlisted as well. This can either be a specialist producer, or members of the band.
Producers are hired for a variety of reasons including being able to create a certain sound, for being specialists in a certain genre or because they have a reputation for being able to create a hit. Composers/songwriters/bands with the budget, should consider what it is they want the producer to do.