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Help: Recording my first CD

Noreen 02 Mar 11 - 12:07 AM
JohnB 02 Mar 11 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 02 Mar 11 - 04:15 AM
treewind 02 Mar 11 - 04:27 AM
Mr Red 02 Mar 11 - 07:02 AM
treewind 02 Mar 11 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,mattkeen 02 Mar 11 - 08:20 AM
Dan Schatz 02 Mar 11 - 02:04 PM
GUEST,999 02 Mar 11 - 02:31 PM
nutty 02 Mar 11 - 03:50 PM
gnu 02 Mar 11 - 04:14 PM
Maryrrf 02 Mar 11 - 04:21 PM
Leadfingers 02 Mar 11 - 07:15 PM
maeve 02 Mar 11 - 07:19 PM
Noreen 02 Mar 11 - 07:35 PM
Noreen 02 Mar 11 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 03 Mar 11 - 03:24 AM
theleveller 03 Mar 11 - 04:26 AM
Andy Jackson 03 Mar 11 - 08:06 PM
Mr Red 04 Mar 11 - 12:36 PM
Mr Red 04 Mar 11 - 12:37 PM
VirginiaTam 04 Mar 11 - 02:25 PM
Diva 05 Mar 11 - 12:47 PM
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Subject: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Noreen
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 12:07 AM

Hi all,
I know there is endless information on this Forum about who has recorded what and how and with what equipment, those who have done it themselves and those who have been fortunate enough to have facilities close at hand.

Recording is all a new world to me, but I am determined to get my finger out and make a proper CD. I know I've been saying this for some time, but now it's down in black and white it'll encourage me to just DO IT!

I really don't know where to start. I have Googled recording studios... but I thought this would be the best place to come for advice and support from those who know.

Are there recording studios which are friendly to unaccompanied traditional singers? I have a terror of being over-produced :(
Do they do the whole thing, art work etc.? What does it cost? (whisper it).

Any information and help gratefully received :)

I live in the West Midlands, UK.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: JohnB
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 01:03 AM

Biggest saving, practise at home without a studio until you get all the material for your project down cold, then don't change anything when you are in the studio.
Find someone local who has done a similar CD to what you wish to sound similar to and check their recording engineer out.
Try it yourself on a computer with a decent mike, practise doing it a few times first, before you go into a studio.
Most studios will charge you an hourly rate, in Canada I can get studio time for between 50 to 100 Can$ per hour, not sure of UK prices.
Estimate an hour or so of studio time for a straight through run of a single voice a cappella recording of each song.
I know Brian Bedford is good, he is in Yorkshire though, no idea of his rates.
Good Luck, JohnB


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 04:15 AM

How far are you prepared to travel Noreen?

We're just putting together a small collective- Wee Dog Records, aimed at helping folky artists to get their first (or later!) CDs "out there"

The recordings are done at the recording engineers/ producers home but on top quality equipment (some of which is cast off from Kate Rusby's studio)..... at very reasonable rates. He is very folk friendly (a gigging folky no less) and is currently producing my other half's third CD.

The idea is to work together to get material recorded and share the cost of advertising, marketing etc (if the artist wants to do this).

Let me know at kffc@live.co.uk (I seem to have lost my cookies and can't sign in here any more!) if you want further info. Obviously there needs to be a meeting of minds if this sort of approach is to work, but happy to explore.

Paul Arrowsmith


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: treewind
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 04:27 AM

Good advice from John B, though I have to say that we have had a lot of fun creating arrangements on the fly in the studio, but that was with intelligent musical input from Doug Bailey who knows the music, not an all purpose studio where the next job might be a rap artist or a rock band. He's worth a try: Wild Goose in Hampshire. He's certainly used to recording unaccompanied trad song, and though he's not in your area, accommodation is available (gorgeous sprawling thatched cottage with the River Test running past the end of the garden)

As an unaccompanied singer, it's worth considering getting some musicians involved for a few tracks. A whole album of unaccompanied solo singing is hard work to listen to, however good. That's not "overproduced" - the problem is that without added visual stimulus of a live performance you do have to add some artificial interest to a recording.

Do they do the whole thing, art work etc.?
Many can do (or arrange) as much or as little of this as you like. Talk to them and find out...
You're looking at very roughly £2000 for the whole package including artwork and CD pressing, but there are lots of variables... You'll get 500 CDs out of the smallest pressing run, so break even when you've sold about half of them - after that it's pure profit!

Alistair Gillies is in your area: AGP Studio in Broseley, Shropshire. He's a folkie, sax player and good musician and should do a decent job.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Mr Red
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 07:02 AM

There is a portable studio in an American aluminium (should that be aluminum?) caravan who I have seen at Towersey.
He reckons to travel to you.
worth investigating - he reckons to be competitive.

If it was me I would ask for the tracks in WAV format and maybe titivate them in Audacity (free audio editing software PM me if you go this route). Then use a CD burning suite like Nero to make audio CDs as and when, & print the labels myself. Sort of pay as you go kind of style.
There is also a facility in Nero (& others I assume) that allows you to make an mixed Audio CD with data - so lyrics, images or whatever can be added as a bonus. Particularly when using 80 minute CD's - with the extra capacity.

For my radio shows I do exactly this - adding scripts and playlists with website links therein. Give them to dancers at the Cajun nights in Gloucester see here


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: treewind
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 08:11 AM

"Nero to make audio CDs as and when, & print the labels myself. "

Been there, done that. I reckon 10 CDs in an evening is as many as I can stand to make. I still do it (except with on-body printing because labels are too prone to getting chewed up in CD players) for Pig Dyke Molly's music CD which doesn't sell in large quantities.
The next album that Mary and I make, even though the plan is to record it at home this time, is still going to be PRESSED.
(we might do some sort of download-and-pay-what-you-think-it's-worth kind of deal, haven't really decided yet)

Yes, burning is an option if you think you aren't going to sell more than about 100 in a year, and you can get it done commercially which is worth it if you need quantities in the 50-300 units range.

Just for comparison, you can get 500 pressed CDs in jewel cases with 4 page printed insert and traycard for less than £500


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: GUEST,mattkeen
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 08:20 AM

You could try Mark Hutchinson at Rookesmere in Northampton
www.rooksmerestudios.com

Mark records a lot of folk and is in several known bands like Rainbow Chasers and Tickled Pink


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 02:04 PM

I can tell you a few lessons learned the hard way.

It is very possible that when you get into the actual recording session, your experience, practice, brain and voice will turn to mush. This is normal.

It is tempting to cut corners during a recording session and let the magic of post-production fix it later. You can do this, and probably will to some extent, but good editing can be laborious and expensive. Oftentimes it is cheaper to just get it right the first time, even if it feels like you're on the 37th take. Remember you can always come back to something if it isn't working. In your case, since you're an unaccompanied singer, you have some advantages. Unaccompanied single voices are generally easy to edit.

There is no such thing as a "natural recording." Placing live music in any recorded medium is an artificial act to begin with, and as an accomplished folk mastering engineer told me, "The best we can do is make nice loudspeaker noise." We listen to recordings differently than we listen to live music, so don't be afraid of judicious use of effects.

That said, don't sweat the small stuff. At least not all of it. Everybody does, and me more than most, but keep in mind that a recording doesn't have to be perfect to be good, and sometimes technically perfect performances yield dull recordings.

If you have a chorus singing, figure out your harmonies and arrangements in advance - I wish I'd done this on my two solo albums. Also consider recording each of the singers - or at least each of the parts - separately and layering them together. Remember their brains may also turn to mush, no matter how good they are, and if you need to correct timing, pitch, etc., it's a whole lot easier if you're only dealing with one part at a time and you know what that part is supposed to be. Ditto for instruments. Your mileage with this one may vary, and it can work well both ways. But single tracks are much easier to edit than a whole arrangement. Just remember there is no such thing as a natural recording!

Have your recording professionally mastered by someone who understands folk music. Airshow in the US is particularly good; I don't know who the folks in the UK are, but mastering can be done anywhere; you don't need to be there. Good mastering is more than putting the songs in order; it's carefully listening to each track, making sure the album has a consistent sound and hangs together, balancing things correctly, editing out extraneous noises and pops that weren't caught before (you'd be amazed at how many they'll find), and making your unnatural recording sound as natural as possible. This is particularly important for an unaccompanied singer, since there aren't a lot of instruments to cover up all those little pops and mouth noises. You won't regret the expense.

Have you considered a live recording? I think this is a particularly good option for unaccompanied singers, since the performer/audience interaction makes a nice intimacy and energy that isn't easily captured in a studio. It's also possibly cheaper, though you may want to record three or four live performances to select just the right songs. Remember a recording off the live mix isn't the same as a professionally done live recording. You might consider having a house concert recorded, so there's no live mix, just a recording mix.

Good luck! I can't wait to hear it!

Dan


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: GUEST,999
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 02:31 PM

Dan's advice is excellent.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: nutty
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 03:50 PM

I would recommend Ken Hall in Sleights. He recorded the Firm Friends CD and is brilliant at working with unaccompanied singers.
I've sent a PM with details.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: gnu
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 04:14 PM

Great info Dan. Not that I am a judge of such, but as someone who has no clue about the process.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Maryrrf
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 04:21 PM

Congratulations, Noreen - that's exciting ! Dan's advice is good - know your material cold and have your arrangements worked out, and take the words with you into the studio. Just having them as a security blanket means you won't need them. And make sure you're personally comfortable with the person who's doing the recording, and that they make you feel at ease.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 07:15 PM

Re 'Live Recording' - As Dan said . watch for the Mush factor - Just having a Mic is bad enough , having the Mic plugged into a recorder makes it worse ,and an audience REALLY Ups the Pressure !
Words on a music stand make it a little easier , especially for a Live Go ! Nothing worse than losing one word in Verse Five and having to re do it all !!! Best of luck any way !!


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: maeve
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 07:19 PM

This is exciting news, Noreen! You have plenty good advice here. I would only add...enjoy the songs.

Best wishes,

Maeve


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Noreen
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 07:35 PM

Lots of food for thought here, and in PMs- thanks, all. Been thinking a lot about logistics.

I've just done a 45min spot on a stage, with a mic, to an audience, so have a pretty balanced set worked out- not too much misery, death or abandonment (as is my wont)! Balance is helped by a few chorus songs so have asked some singing friends to be a chorus for me; this will be lovely but complicates the logistics.

Practicalities mentioned by all of you have focussed my thoughts so will now go away and think some more about the where and the when, then come back and read all the advice again.

Your support and knowledge is greatly appreciated.


(Where is 'Wee Dog Records' Paul?)


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Noreen
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 07:38 PM

Oh and I am thinking of maybe a couple of accompanied songs, which will add interest as you say, Anahata- but this will need a bit more work.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 03:24 AM

Noreen,

Wee Dog "Studio" is in West Yorks. But engineer/producer will travel and can record wherever you want him too (nice & relaxed at home maybe?).

We recorded some bits of Wendy's album at our house (but most of it in the "studio") and the sound is great. There is a stable of great musicians that we have access to as well if you do want to add some instrumentation..... again at very reasonable rates.

Drop me a line & I can tell you more about approach & costs.

As I say, the idea is to help artists get a quality product at a price they can afford..... by sharing expertise and costs.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: theleveller
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 04:26 AM

For us, the question of producing a CD has not been 'how' or 'where' but 'why'. In other words, is it a commercial proposition or just an ego trip?

As we're not gigging musicians I can't see many people wanting to pay, say, £10 for a CD of us and, much as we'd like to do it, we can't afford to spend a few hundred pounds to produce a CD just to give away a few copies to family and friends.

The answer for us is to have a bit of fun doing some recordings at home using a home studio set up which, together with reasonable mics, can often be bought second-hand. This has now become a hobby that fits in well with the songwriting and playing. OK, it's nowhere near professional quality but it is a record of what we do. Instead of producing CDs (which, let's face it, are rapidly becoming an obsolete medium) I put the recordings on a Youtube site where they can be accessed free by anyone who wants to do so. I'm also in the process of producing a website which will have lots of background info about the songs. For us, as funds are tight, that is currently a better option than being left holding a lot of expensive bird-scarers. Of course, this may change in the future.

Anyway, whatever you decide, have fun, because that's what it's all about.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 08:06 PM

Hi Noreen, what a good idea. here's my two penn'orth. As John B said earlier, get used to the sound of your own voice, AS RECORDED. I am sure you are used to your recorded voice but many hear themselves for the first time and just don't like the sound.
Have a set prepared as it looks like you have.
Have the words in front of you as a comfort blanket if nothing else. Enbloodyjoy it. Be happy that you are doing it at last and really go for it.
I'm looking forward to the result.
Andy


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Mr Red
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 12:36 PM

For the pay as you go option, the studio will make a master copy - have one that that you can copy on a PC.

Being able to sell 500 is a nice idea but is it realistic?

Only you will know. And don't forget the demos to send to radio stations &/or FC's - it all costs.

Pay as you go I think is the best option. IMHO or amybe I am reading your career wrong.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Mr Red
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 12:37 PM

There is always the Lightscribe route. CD burner burns a BW image on the other side.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 02:25 PM

Noreen

Contact Spleen Cringe by pm or here on his website

http://folkpolicerecordings.ithinkmusic.com/my-store/info.php?p=contacts

He can probably give some pretty good advice on how to get this project off the ground.


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Subject: RE: Help: Recording my first CD
From: Diva
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 12:47 PM

Good luck Noreen..about time! Interesting thread and something I'd like to do too....


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