With so many cats putting home studios together probably the biggest question out there is the one of “Is my stuff good enough?” Everyone wants to know how they stand up to the majors. There is no doubt that today’s digital technology is good, but when it comes to selling music, we all would like a little reassurance.
So how good is the typical home studio? Does it rival the big commercial studios for sound quality? Well, yes and no. Firstly, from a purely technical standpoint, a $5,000 home studio cannot compete with the big boys. No $200 microphone is going to match a Neumann in sound quality. A good producer can hear the difference and as you grow your own production skills, you will be able to hear the difference too.
The good news is that we don’t make music for producers. We make music for the consumer. If you think about it, when was the last time someone you know listened to a recording and commented something to the effect of, “I think the guitar is too loud, the snare drum is panned to hard to the left and there is too much boost at 1500 KHz?” Never, I am sure.
People listen to music for the beat, the hook and the message of the lyric. Regardless of production values the success of any recording is judged by how well the consumer likes it and purchases it. While this statement might anger some long-time producers and engineers, it is true and it is the most important thing for us to remember when making a recording.
So does that mean we can just plug in, power up and make whatever crap we want to? No, it sure as hell doesn’t mean that! Understanding the science of recordings will help us connect with our audience.
For instance, a bad mix can actually be irritating and keep people from ever listing all their way through our songs. Not understanding microphone and compression use can completely rob our recordings of emotional impact. Finally, a poor mastering job might cause our songs to sound thin and tinny over the radio.
Always remember this; we never know when our chance to be heard by someone influential will come. It is for this reason that we must educate ourselves and continually strive to make better and better recordings.
I want the world to realize how much musical talent we have in Memphis. One of the best ways we can do that is to make better recordings and improve our understanding of the business. It is my sincere hope that the Producer’s Corner helps that to happen.
Till next time, make some great music!