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Aspen Leaf Recording
How long will my project take and what will it cost?
This is a really good question, a very important question and a complex question as well. Because of so many potential variables, it is also one of the most difficult questions to answer.
For many people, working in a studio may be somewhat of a new experience. It is often assumed that because a song is only 4 minutes long, it should take only four minutes to record. Well, yes, and no. What we do in the studio is typically not a “live”, in front of an audience recording. When a performance is “live”, you get what you get. In the studio, we have the options, luxury and ability to record in one take or strive to get that “record-sound” which 95% of the time requires multiple takes, then critiquing, editing, mixing and mastering. Many people do not realize that nationally known artists may work on recording a vocal track (for instance), for hours or even a couple of days to capture the performance the artist or producer is pleased with. If you read about an artist or band working on a new CD, typically you’ll read that they’ve been working in the studio for weeks or months.
It is critically important that we discuss the direction of your project from the very beginning. Are you looking for a simple demo to hand club owners and friends, or are you looking for a finished, polished, radio-ready, professionally printed and packaged CD to market & sell? In every case, I will remind you that whatever you record and release is what you and everyone else will be listening to… forever. Are you sure your vocal, guitar, piano, etc. tracks are the way you want them to sound and can live with that particular performance? The product you release is a reflection of you and your talent for as long as those CDs are in circulation.
The technical reasons for understanding the direction of your project from the very start are many and will certainly impact the time, cost and finished sound of your project. I have many years of experience in the studio with an increasing number of tools and methods to improve or shorten the process. I hope that you will find as we work together, I am committed to you and your project, striving towards the best product, keeping your goals and budget in mind. I can work for you in a number of capacities, solely as your engineer performing the duties of setup and recording, or I can function completely and competently as your producer, arranger and engineer,… or even somewhere in-between. These topics need to be discussed and agreed upon from the beginning.
While working together, I will encourage your feedback and input throughout the process. It is completely in our best interest to be honest and communicate what we like or don’t like in a recording or performance. My goal is to meet or exceed the quality in capturing the sound and performance you want. Working together, I am confident that we can do exactly that.
Currently the studio charge is $60 per hour. For larger projects, we do offer a cash block rate of $55 per hour in 25-hour blocks. Depending on the project, recording, mixing and mastering of short, live demo’s typically cost $400 - $1,500.
Due to the many possible variables, such as number of tracks, number of instruments, outside musicians, number of takes, remixes, re-mastering, etc., full CD projects can cost $4,000 to $20,000 and up. Timeframe to capture, mix and master your recording can be from one day to several months, depending on schedules and complexity of the individual project. Outlining and discussing your project will greatly help to narrow down the expected costs.
Writing, performing and creating music is an art and typically a talent each of us are proud to express. Capturing this art and talent should be a fun, creative and exciting experience, of which you will enjoy the final recorded product for the rest of your life and to pass on to generations ahead. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and hope it helps to answer some questions you may have had.
The Recording Process and What To Expect
We want your recording experience at Aspen Leaf to be positive and enjoyable. This sheet is to provide you with some additional information about the recording process at Aspen Leaf and what you should expect.
First off, we’d like for you to come in and make yourself at home. Being confident, comfortable and prepared will come through in your recording. If you’re comfortable doing so, the floors (and I) would greatly appreciate the removal of your shoes to help keep the scuff-marks and noise down. We try to keep bottled water, soft drinks and coffee on hand. (Please feel free to donate to the cause if you’d like). Also, please feel free to bring snacks, lunch or dinner and use the entry/kitchen area table, chairs, refrigerator and microwave. The restroom is down the hallway on the right just before entering the “live” room.
Very rarely does anyone play an instrument or sing a track 100% perfect from start to finish on the very first take. Re-takes or partial retakes are completely normal and expected. A partial retake is where you feel you have a very good performance but where a certain part (or two) of a song needs replacing. (i.e., a great performance overall with an unfortunate wrong note at the end). We have the ability to re-recording only the necessary part and seamlessly edit it in!
Some of the microphones we offer are somewhat unique, delicate and quite expensive. These mics are of an internal tube or thin ribbon design, which can be easily damaged if mishandled. Up close, these microphones can sound very warm and detailed, but please refrain from moving them and ask that you never intentionally blow into or tap on a mic. (Thanks)!
While recording, among other things, I consistently listen for tone and pitch of vocals and instruments. If I ask you for a re-take, it is typically because I heard something that you would not like (i.e. vocal pitch or instrument tuning, phrasing of a word or line, etc). Retakes are a normal part of the process and never to be self-conscience or concerned about.
Once all of the tracks are recorded, there is usually some individual track editing to be done. The types of editing and possibilities are numerous. For some examples, we can replace a less than stellar vocal chorus take with a different one from another take or location in a song. We can lengthen, shorten, or move in time a bass note, or vocal word or phrase, etc., all of which is seamless where you’d never hear the edit. (Cool, egh?!) When necessary, we can perform pitch correction and time-aligning on certain tracks. Often this helps to “tighten” a track when there are many instruments or background vocals.
Once any required editing is complete, we begin a mix. The mixing process allows us to tonally shape the sound of individual instruments, place instruments and vocals within the stereo sound-field, adjust levels between tracks and add effects to chosen tracks, and much more. Multiple mixing takes are usually recorded in order to have a selection to choose from later.
It’s a good idea to listen to final mixes on fresh ears a day or so later. Once your mixes have been selected for your project, it’s time to “Master”. The mastering process maximizes the overall level of each song with respect to all of the songs, ensuring the volume from song-to-song remains constant. The same care is given to the tone of each song, also ensuring that one song is not brighter or have more/less bass than another.
On a full radio/distribution ready CD project, we can assist with the details of duplication, copyrights or licensing issues. We are not a duplication facility but have a relationship with a couple leaders in that field. I have been involved with a number of projects over the years often offer my services at no charge for clients of larger projects.
I appreciate the opportunity to work and create with you. Aspen Leaf is not a bedroom or basement studio. We offer this studio design specifically built facility and some of the finest analog and digital gear for a reason…I love to exceed your recording expectations. If there’s anything I can do to assist, if you should have any additional questions or if I have not provided all which you expected or needed, I’d be disappointed not to hear from you.
Tell Us About Your Project
There are a number of reasons I need to know about your goals and vision for your projects. To create a radio/distribution ready CD master, I would go to some additional lengths to ensure the best sounds and performances are captured, paying attention to every detail. Though this is a necessary process in creating a CD ready for release, it is not necessary for a demo, which only you and a few friends will listen to, adding unnecessary time and costs to a project.
I would like for you to consider:
What is your goal for this recording?____________________________________________________________________
What is the style or artist’s sound which you are leaning towards capturing?___________________________________
Low-end Demo?______ High-end Demo?_____ Friends & family CD?____ Radio-Ready CD Project?______
To be sold on music download sites?_____ To be used on your website?______ To market your writing/performance?_______
Are these original songs?________ How many songs do you have in mind for this project?_______
Will you be selling these CDs?_______ Are your original songs copyrighted?_______
Do you need assistance with copyrights?______ If not original songs, do you know about licensing?___________
Do you have all of the musicians or vocalists in mind for your project?______
Would you like or need any assistance with additional musical parts?____________
How many copies of this CD are you thinking about making?________
If duplicating in quantity, have you considered an album title and graphics?_____________________________
What is your timeframe for creating this CD?____________________________________________________________
If this is a full CD project, when would you like to have your CD released?______________________
What is your budget for this project?______________________________
How do you feel Aspen Leaf can best assist you?___________________________________________________________
Along the way in recording a project, there are a number of tools and opportunities to enhance many projects. Adding background vocals, a bass guitar part, percussion, synth pads or other sounds to an otherwise basic (piano/vocal, guitar/vocal) can be the difference between night & day. We have the tools and access to the musicians and vocalists to best suit your project. If you’re feeling that your recording is lacking in fullness, please don’t hesitate to raise that concern. There are many ways to help you achieve the sound, which you may be looking for.
Aspen Leaf is proudly a “Studio Partner” with Disk Makers. Your completed, duplicated, full CD projects will receive a framed plaque containing your CD, cover artwork and inscription congratulating your work. Additional promotion tools available are full-color posters, t-shirts, stickers, internet distribution and more.
Thank you for this information and the opportunity to work with you.
Ken Dravis, Owner, Engineer, Producer
Aspen Leaf Recording, LLC ©2011