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Religiously Recorded: Why The Studio Is Still Relevant

(View From The Control Room @ January Sounds Studios Addison, TX)

This piece is sure to be the enemy of home studio manufacturers, yet it’s something that must be said.  Call me orthodox, but I still find the process of constructing a studio record to be imperative to superior quality music production.  While the digital revolution has made it possible for recording technologies to be made available to the masses, there are so many reasons why producing a top notch album can only come from hours spent in the live room.  Artists who take the studio experience seriously will find that the ritualistic nature of this process adds an enormous amount of non-tangible value to a record.  


The Expense

Yes, sessions can be pricey, especially for an emerging artist or group.  This seems to be the most influential factor in dissuading musicians from using a studio.  However, I find when one is willing to invest in a set time frame to complete an album, deadlines are more often met, productivity is higher, and the musicianship is top notch.  Your players are more likely to be at peak performance levels, and the energy becomes much more focused.  Far too often, I have found that when musicians record an EP or LP at home, the process is either drastically delayed, or never finished.  However, I have yet to endure this problem with a group who has chosen to invest in quality sessions.  It is in our nature as creatives to sacrifice for our craft.  Create a personal budget, cut out a few nonessential expenses, and set up a ‘studio fund’.  After a few months, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you have accumulated necessary funds to start recording.  


The Search

It’s been several months.  You’ve worked extra hours, played additional shows, and reduced countless expenditures.  The sacrificial phase is done, and you’re ready to hit the studio.  You are about to make one of the most important investments a musician can make, so do your homework first.  Start shopping around in your vicinity to find a list of professionally run recording establishments.  When you’ve made a list, compare multiple factors.  Almost every studio will have a website displaying their client list.  Make sure that your studio is tailored to similar artists and genres.  Also, take a look at the producer.  Is this someone you can trust with your precious time and money?  Research their past clients, any achievements, awards, or professional affiliations.  You don’t want to drop $600 per session on a half-ass, know-nothing producer in a below-par studio.  


The Live Room Aura

You have completed your research.  It’s time to hit the studio.  As intelligent and deep thinking as musicians believe themselves to be, we all seem to enter a state of awe when we walk into the studio.  Enjoy it!  You’ve put countless hours of practice, planning, and saving to reach this point.  Now it’s time to bask in the essence of the recording art.  One of the best advantages you will find in a studio, is unlike a home recording session, one is not isolated.  Fellow band members, management, producers and miscellaneous others will be observing you every move.  Yes, this additional pressure can create anxiety.  However, it also means that multiple minds are monitoring the process for errors and suggestions.  If there is some minute tuning issue, a drum head is out of whack, or a cell phone is left on, it is much more likely this problem can be promptly fixed without wasting numerous takes.  


The Extra Perks

Here’s some miscellaneous stuff that might be of interest as well.  When searching for a great producer, or mastering engineer, find someone who is genuinely interested in your work.  Often times you can arrange pricing deals with a producer who believes in your potential for success.  Perhaps, they may even allocate you free studio time, or additional overdub sessions.  However, the most elemental perk of the studio is the sound.  You are not in your living room, you’re in an acoustically mastered sanctuary. It is here where your craft can exponentially blossom.  Nothing beats the sound of a top notch studio, recorded with first class personnel and equipment.  


So get out there, and record!  Happy Music-Making!


-Dillon Roulet


I work for an entertainment, digital, and business media consulting firm.  I specialize in Artist Development, and manage a small portfolio of bands and solo-artists.  You can add me on Twitter , Linkedin , or Facebook if I tickle your fancy.  

Reader Comments (9)

I have to agree that if you're a serious musician who wants the best product you can get you have to get yourself in a music studio at some point while making your record. I can't even begin to list the quality of having a studio record, mix, and master my second album compared to my first album that was not. I think it's imperative to find someone to engineer it who actually really likes your stuff. You'll hear the difference when someone treats your music as if it were their own. It's like seeing a film in black & white and then seeing it in color!

May 30 | Unregistered CommenterChancius

Such truthin this! love this article! and couldn't argee more. For the first time ever, last weekend my band had the opportunity to record in a studio and the difference in the quality of work we produced was definitly notable. There's something about being in that environment, the vibe, the energy the air. If you find the right space, that you connect with, you can let your innter creative sipirt out and that alone can be ebnough to be worth the extra dollars.

I shared my recording experience on youtube if anyone is interested in checking it out :)

I completely agree with Dillon. While technological advances have made it easier than ever to do good recordings at home, this has also created problems. The main one being that a whole LOT of people can do good recordings! The availability of the technology has actually raised the bar - not lowered it - for recordings. Now your tracks can't just sound good; they need to sound amazing.

And as good as digital technology gets, any seasoned studio engineer or artist will tell you there is still a difference between a digital and analog sound. If you check the top songs on any genre chart, you will find that nearly 100% of them have spent some time in an analog studio.

The number of analog studios may have waned from its peak in the late 80s, but it is part of the production process that will probably never disappear.

Great post. I would add that artists have to take planning seriously. Not only do your research, but know exactly what you need to do to put that track down. You should get the group together before and arrive at the studio together. You should know what steps are needed to minimize the time to the sound booth. You should have a plan of attack discussed with the Engineer in advance. Last point, though genius does not comply with a clock and often is improvisational. Be careful that you don't forget your plan. The key to the studio is getting great sound on budget. Because blown budgets tend to make you want to cut the studio, when it was the plan not the studio that caused the problem.

More thank likely... if you're spending big money on a project, you're going to work your ass off and put in your best effort with you best material. Your studio session becomes an event. That's WAY different than knocking out a tune in your bedroom.

May 31 | Unregistered CommenterSean C

Great article -- thanks!

Yes: Even though technological advances mean that almost anyone can have top flight in-the-box means at their hands, the absolute fact of the matter is that most cannot achieve a great sounding recording/mix because they don't have the experience or training to do so. One can have every great plug-in but still not know how to construct, record, produce, and mix a song properly. I hear all of the girlfriend's brother is an A&R for a major label and he often plays me the submissions he gets. It's stunning how many sound like absolute shite, despite the artist having a full setup at home.

It's best to invest in a studio where people actually know what they're doing, if you don't or aren't willing to put the years in to learning how to create a great sounding recording.

June 4 | Unregistered CommenterNoel G.

the most motivational artists will build their own, complete and acoustically prepared studios and do everything themselves if they're smart enough. Shits not hard, good equipment with a good background and knowledge of what you're getting into will always be enough. Sad thing is most people don't have a work ethic these days.

June 5 | Unregistered Commenterm. Detelj

It would be a dream come true to have my own recording studio. I have always been fascinated with music, mixing and recording. I wonder how much it would cost me to build my own recording studio. I guess it would be okay to have it at home, for starters.


It is really a great idea to record in a music studio. Even though it is quite an additional expense, it is a good thing to do so. This is because recording in a music studio seems to produce great results done just recording them anywhere.

November 14 | Unregistered Commenterdenise johnson

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