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High stakes and, cheap rates. Why the best work with the best

High stakes and, cheap rates. Why the best work with the best

Lesson #1 The best work with the best

How is it that some people don’t have the time or the money to do things right the first time? Yet, after settling for unsavory results, they inevitably find the time and additional funding to do redo entire projects? It’s this level of insanity that cost them more of their most valuable resources, time and money. Do the artist that practice these behaviors ever reach their full potential, before life & resources catch up to them? Have they ever stopped and wondered why Jay-z doesn’t opt for the bargain price of the neighborhood studio? What I’m saying is that Jay-z is a business man, the fundamentals of business are to buy low and sell high. So why does Jay-z opt not to, when it comes to the music production process?

Examining the cause

They’re two common factors that contribute to the undertaking of this thought process, the lack of funding & knowledge. Like most creative people starting out there is not an abundance of capital available that artist can pour into their passion. If the artist is savvy enough to shop around for their studio ambitions, they quickly find out that the professionals cost thousands of dollars. Like most of us, music began as a hobby, something fun to do. Not taking it seriously we tinkered around in our bedrooms, at some buddies, or maybe even a low costing project studio. As the cost of entry to the studio game came down, the rise of the cookie cutter approach (one mic, an interface, some speakers, and a laptop) rose tremendously. Now for $20 an hour, all your artistic dreams could be reached and then some… or could they?

   These cookie cutter studios suffered from the same thought process as the clientele they attracted, lack of funding & knowledge. It takes capital to invest in acoustically treated facilities, healthy gear selections, custom amenities, and the time to properly learn their craft. In some cases, the latter, is at your expense. It requires knowledge to over-stand that they need to know the before mentioned, or to simply learn what they don’t know. Luckily there is a remedy for all of this, over the course of time combined with your habitual $20 patronage they will eventually acquire the knowledge & funding that is needed. All this however is at the artist expense, and in return you will be rewarded with a product & results that you didn’t want, but paid for.

Probing the affect

After side stepping the better choice and opting for the cheaper one, it’s time for the artist to bring that product to the market place. With no money in the budget for marketing, they relinquish their hard-put effort to the mercy of the world wide web. What they find is startling, there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of artists in the same exact genre, with the same exact approach. So, how do artist stand out amongst the static? How can your record have as much impact sonically as its artistic content? Without a marketing budget its hard for potential fans to find you. Even if fans do find you when they press play it has sonically what a poor bootleg movie has visually, and your potential fan moves on to the more well-educated artist. You see unprofessional results scream amateur, hobbyist, or plain just not a serious artist, so fans don’t take you seriously.

They don’t know that you poured your heart into it, that you scraped up your last dollar to bring this effort to the table. And, frankly they don’t care, the average fan may not be audio inclined or even able to recognize a cheap mic vs an expensive one. What they can recognize is the final results and are very aptly able to distinguish between a professionally done record, and a poorly done record. That’s all that matters, your most likely being over looked not for the musical content of your record but because of its delivery and the sonic presentation of your record. Think about it, remember the last time someone handed you their mixtape, or sent you a link to their music? When you gave it a play, it didn’t grab you, it didn’t capture your attention, it lacked impact, and then what did you do?

    Most likely you moved on, never to return again, and that’s to no fault of your own but the nature of the beast of attention. So, you’ve put your record out there, spent a $100 to a few hundred dollars to get it done, expecting, hoping, to make a million dollars off a $100-dollar investment. And those are the results you’re getting, a few 20-100 plays, very few shares, very few likes, and few fans earned. Those results aren’t because your music sucks (hopefully) or because people are hating, its simply not worth sharing in its current form. At best its wishful uninformed thinking, and at worst it’s willful neglect. So, what do you do next after your investment doesn’t give you the anticipated return? The smart artist says I’ve been at it for a while, continuously putting out money and not making a return on investment and it’s time to cut my loses. While the intelligent artist understands that if the music is great there must be a reason why it’s not connecting with the audience. The intelligent artist begins to reevaluate their projects and, listen to it more attentively.

They then begin to compare it against chart topping artist, local acts garnering a buzz, what they hear on the radio, and their favorite artist. What are the differences? Do they sound the same, are they close, or starkly distant in terms of audio quality? And, if so why are you paying for it, why are you investing in what you know won’t yield the results your looking for? If any of your answers to the question proposed are economical, then it is my duty to inform you that it is vastly cheaper to do it right, the first time. Because serious musicians cannot afford to bring unprofessional projects to the market place. It will now cost you more money and time to redo the same project over, and no one likes to pay for something twice. Not to mention the hit your brand will take, because you only get one first impression.

When opting for the cheaper price, in this industry you often get equal results. Therefore, you won’t see Jay-z at your local cookie cutter studio. For the elite in music, they can’t afford to risk their lively hood on basement bargain prices, especially when potential millions are at stake. It just doesn’t make much business sense. Professionals and professional results come with professional prices, but those professional prices have value.  An established studio and engineer has an accomplished clientele, they have a working relationship with, record labels, major artist and producers, A&Rs, label execs, distribution companies, and large corporations.  When paying professional prices not only do you get professional results, but you also gain access to their invaluable network, all for the price of admission. When your shopping for studios and comparing prices be sure to ask yourself what other value does this studio bring to your project.

 

Reasoning behind pricing and how to get around budget obstacles.

Overhead, gear, experience, talent, demand, and time are all factors that contribute to studios and project pricing. It takes time to properly record a record, its 90% of obtaining professional audio. Check out our previous article going in depth about the recording process and why it  can contribute to not getting the results you want here. Studios have spent hundreds of thousands of dollar and years acquiring the professional gear used in the production process. Also, professional studios have staff, housing, and amenities that create an overhead. It takes engineers years of study, dedication, and practice developing the skills, talent, portfolio and demand needed. Professional studios aren’t just arbitrary putting a price tag on their services. This is truly what it cost to make professional records. At the same time your obtaining access to their vast wealth of knowledge and industry network. So how can a struggling artist still obtain major label sounding results?

    Your first step is locating a qualified studio, and if your readying this you have already completed that goal. You should then set-up a consultation appointment as well as a studio tour to become familiar with the facility, their polices, and the staff. The studio or business manager is who you will want to speak with for going rates. Begin by asking questions, sometimes there are specials you can take advantage of so seek them out. If your savvy enough and not afraid attempt to negotiate a subsidized rate, some studios are willing to do this especially in exchange for great word of mouth reviews. If you’re in a great network of artist maybe, ask about offering to bring in additional business for the studio in exchange for a steep discount. Here at Twenty Seven Sounds often clients ask for monthly installment payments that they can pay each month so there’s not a hefty up-front cost to the artist. This is a great way to build up a relationship with the studio and began work on project immediately.

One or a combination of the above-mentioned methods are a great way to get the professional results your looking for within a budget you can afford. Now that you are armed with the information needed, go out there and make great music. As always, we hope to see you soon at your next session!

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