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LAYLA

Difference Between a Demo Recording and a Professional Recording

Pretty much everybody else who writes songs today seems to already have a recording of their track - complete with instruments and all - that they must've done themselves, without a professional.  But there must also be some really quick, simple way to do it, because people post their recordings here looking for feedback, which must mean they didn't intend these recordings to be the final draft.  How do you all make your recordings, and how do you get them done so easily, if it is as easy as I imagine it would have to be?

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Hi Layla - everyone has their own methods, some easy, some not-so-easy.  Simplest way is with a video camera (or even your phone) set up in front of you and you just do a "1+1" recording - you playing your instrument and singing the song.  You can also do an audio recording the same way, one mic (again, it could just be into your phone) into a stand-alone recorder (like a Zoom) or into an audio interface and computer DAW.

It's really a matter of your expertise and desire (or none) to go further. 

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An extremely good answer Mike...just wonder why a songwriter would ask it.

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14 hours ago, chazmataz said:

An extremely good answer Mike...just wonder why a songwriter would ask it.

Well, just because I know how to write a song doesn't mean I was born with complete knowledge of how to record one.  It so happens I am not very good with technology, which doesn't affect my songwriting abilities at all, I might add.  I though the people here might be good enough to help me out a little.  How does anyone find out anything, if not by asking?

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2 hours ago, LAYLA said:

Well, just because I know how to write a song doesn't mean I was born with complete knowledge of how to record one.  It so happens I am not very good with technology, which doesn't affect my songwriting abilities at all, I might add.  I though the people here might be good enough to help me out a little.  How does anyone find out anything, if not by asking?

 

 

Of course, you are correct!   If you have more questions on this subject, let me know!   There are many songwriters/players who don't want to use their time with 'technology' when they could be playing/writing/doing something else, but will use their phones to record basic demos.  A good example is our own Onewholovesrock, JOe.  Sometimes a little experimentation is needed to figure out the best phone position, distance, etc.

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On 7/5/2017 at 13:23, LAYLA said:

But there must also be some really quick, simple way to do it, because people post their recordings here looking for feedback, which must mean they didn't intend these recordings to be the final draft.  How do you all make your recordings, and how do you get them done so easily, if it is as easy as I imagine it would have to be?

 

The quick, simple way to do it is to pay someone to do it for you.  Making homemade demos that sound halfway decent requires musical skill (can you play an instrument?) and some technical skill (at a minimum, you need a microphone and some computer based recording software).  With this, you can record a simple one instrument/one vocal demo.

 

Most of the folks who post demos on this site have advanced musical skills.  They can play guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, can program drums, strings, and other instruments, and they know how to put them together.  They also have fairly advanced technical skills.  Some recording programs are easier to use then others, but none are "easy."

 

Neal

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Hey Layla,

 I'm not very technology advanced. I can learn the stuff but I just don't like doing it. I'm basically technology lazy. I love writing/performing songs. I don't mind recording either, if someone else is working the recording end of things. It took me a couple/few years before I started making satisfactory recordings on my own. And then I just stopped doing it. It's been about 3 years since I did a studio multi track recording. Like Mike mentioned above. I record all my songs with my smartphone video camera just to get them down somewhere. The recordings don't sound too bad. But I play the guitar. Not sure you play an instrument. 

 Another option is finding someone with a good studio offering decent prices. Just yesterday I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a small studio/home studio offering quality recordings without the big studio prices. I received 2 responses and asked for samples. One of them sounded pretty good. I've seen smaller guys offering recording for $15.00 - $20.00 an hour. The bigger studios around here are charging  $50.00 an hour. 4 hour minimums. That's from load in to load out. They usually stick pretty tight to their times. The little guys are generally more forgiving with time. But the big guys do sound fantastic and radio ready. 

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Recording studios?  Wow.  "Let's do the time warp again." :)

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$50/hour for 4 hour blocks of time is pretty much the norm these days, with $20/hour for the small 'basement of my house' guys.  Lots of people still use studios - because they may not be technology or ability-capable.  recording and mixing, like anything else, takes practice and time to develop your skills.  Some people would rather spend that time playing/songwriting.  Others may only want to release/record a few songs once in a great while.  And still others may just not have a good 'space' to do it in.

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Hi Layla

 

Another option is to collaborate with someone that has technical knowledge about recording.

It's not easy to get these people interested as they typically have their own backlog of things to do, but if you have a great lyric and melody idea you might just convince someone to help :)

 

Paul

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On 7/12/2017 at 12:30, LAYLA said:

Well, just because I know how to write a song doesn't mean I was born with complete knowledge of how to record one.  It so happens I am not very good with technology, which doesn't affect my songwriting abilities at all, I might add.  I though the people here might be good enough to help me out a little.  How does anyone find out anything, if not by asking?

 

Respectfully, this is where I think you're wrong. :) 

 

The most obvious option is to do your own recordings - like others do.  You can always come up with excuses not to.  But if you make your own recordings, you'll eventually want to do multitrack arrangements, and that will make you an arranger, and becoming a songwriter who can arrange different instruments and sounds for your songs makes you a more creative and complete songwriter, not to mention that the vast universe of digital musical sounds is a huge source of inspiration for a musician or songwriter.  I'll add that, the technology involved isn't rocket science, and once you get the hang of it, it becomes quite easy and efficient to use.  There are zillions of kids all over the globe making damn good multitrack recordings on their tablets and computers who've never played a "real" musical instrument in their lives.  You're already starting ahead of the game compared to them when they started.  You just have to take the plunge like they did, like I did, and like many others do, and "get with the program."   :)   And, that's really the answer to your question about the difference between a demo recording and a professional recording.  Given the technology, there really isn't much of a difference today expect for final mastering of the recording, and if your "demo" is to be used to pitch to "the industry," it better sound fairly "pro,"  because the demos even kids with no talent are submitting do. ;)  That's my opinion at least.

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I wouldn't worry too much about pro recordings unless you have about 5,000 friends who you know personally. The fact is, people are spending tons of money on pro recording gear and their songs are not being bought anyway. Hardly anyone buys music anymore. So, if you can consistently produce content for youtube that is demo ready and makes people feel good, you could get yourself a following and subscribers and make money that way. Or, there's patreon. People will financially support your content monthly or something to that affect. Pro recordings without pro marketing and touring is a waste of money and time. I can testify to that fact myself. I could get away with singing and playing acoustic in front of a mic and camera and that's it; and people would eat it up. Less is more these days.

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