How Much Does it Cost to Go to a Recording Studio
Recording an album or just a song or two can be much cheaper than you would expect. Usually, the most expensive part of making an album, is creating the album itself, not recording the actual music on it. Of course, this depends on what type of music or album you want to make, since recording a symphonic orchestra would be a lot more expensive than recording vocals or a small band. It also depends on whether or not your album will require mixing and mastering, though most albums do require it in order to sound professional. But regardless, it all depends on what companies you choose to go through for the services you need. Recording studios can be found all around the world and in just about every country. So of course the rates will vary. For example, it's very cheap to rent a booth in a place like Thailand, compared to somewhere like West Hollywood or Miami. The trick to getting affordable rates is to know what you're doing and know where to go.
Recording studio prices depend mostly upon where you are in the world and how nice or reputable the studio is. In USA, rates can be as low as $40 an hour, or as much as $3,000 per hour. I live in the Bay Area, California, but have worked with independent artists in other states before and I've offered to pay for their time in a recording studio, so they could send me their vocals and I could mix them into my music. So I've gotten a good idea about the costs, when it comes to booking an hour or two. The average rates I've found for Northern California studios, such as in San Francisco, Palo Alto and San Jose is $80 to $150 an hour. In West Virginia, I've come across a few here and there that are as low as $50 an hour. But all of these prices are for very basic services, such as recording vocals or a few instruments. The owners or employees of the studios don't necessarily help you with anything except for basic recording. They will setup the mics and other equipment before you get there, and put your vocals or individual instrument tracks on a CD when you're all finished, and from there you will usually have to find someone to mix and master them if you don't know how to do it yourself or would rather have a professional do it. If you look on the back of most albums or in the booklet inside, you will see in the credits that the album is usually recorded at a studio, while the mixing and other services are often done somewhere else and through a different company. The studio itself may offer other services, or include them in packages or plans as part of a discounted deal.
Now when you book a recording studio for an hour, you aren't actually renting the studio, you're just renting a booth, the microphones, equipment, and basic supervision and recording help. It's not like a Uhaul rental, but some places will let you rent the whole place out if you want, assuming you have enough money for it and don't really need their help with anything. They may want to write out some type of contract to insure their equipment and building before hand in case something happens. Another thing to keep in mind is that certain rooms in a studio have different setups and acoustics. Acoustics are modifications to a room, in order to create a different sound in the recordings that take place in there. A person who just wants to record vocals for a rap song, probably doesn't need all the acoustics that a person creating soundtracks for movies would need.
When it comes to reserving time or a room in a recording studio, you should look in the yellowpages of your phone book or online and locate one in your area, or shop around for prices before choosing one. If your band or group is known for being rowdy, or if there's something you're unsure about it, you should ask them what their rules and requirements are. You may see rap and rock groups on video partying in recording studios and doing drugs or drinking, but keep in mind that they are usually already millionaires. Most studio owners expect you to behave very professionally while you're there, because equipment can be fragile and very expensive. So unless you're rich and can pay for any damage you do in there, you should be respectful and careful about what you do.
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