How much does it cost to record an album?
Photo by southerntabitha, used under a Creative Commons license.
Cost is a significant factor in recording an album. Whether it's a spare bedroom or a multimillion-dollar studio, an artist should be prepared to invest in the recording process. Different recording budgets demand different environments, but even the smallest budget can produce a great album.
First, it is important to decide where you want to record. Thanks to digital technology, many artists record in their own homes using software programs like ProTools. Home recording typically requires an investment in recording software, hardware (microphones, for example) and speakers. Many artists also depend, however, on commercial studios, which charge hourly or flat-fee rates.
- First, it is important to decide where you want to record.
- Many artists also depend, however, on commercial studios, which charge hourly or flat-fee rates.
Home recording requires an investment in software and equipment. ProTools software for home recording starts at £195. A recording interface such as the M-Audio FireWire Solo retails for £162. Speakers for playback can easily be found for £130 or less, while a Shure SM57 microphone (used for many recording applications) runs about £65.
- Home recording requires an investment in software and equipment.
- Speakers for playback can easily be found for £130 or less, while a Shure SM57 microphone (used for many recording applications) runs about £65.
Most commercial studios charge by the hour for recording. A 10 to 12-track album typically requires between 90 and 150 hours of recording and mixing. Hourly rates at a decent studio will usually start at £32, and can go as high as £195 or more.
Many sound engineers who work out of their home or commercial studios offer per-song recording rates. Rates for recording one song can be as low as £32, depending on the type of recording and level of difficulty in achieving.
Once recording and mixing are complete, it is necessary to master your album. A mastering engineer sets the sonic balance for the entire album, ensuring no one song is louder than the other. Mastering is typically charged by a flat fee, which can start in the £325 range for a decent engineer.
Lee Simmons has 10 years of reporting experience covering a variety of issues for publications in South Carolina, California, and Texas. He also covered music industry issues for Soundcheck magazine and Bizmology.com, among others. Simmons earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas. He lives in Austin.