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Is professional music production still necessary?
Today I am going to talk about a topic that is near and dear to my heart and a question that i’m sure quite a few of you have wondered and I myself have asked quite a few times. Is a professional recording studio necessary in today’s accessible recording market? Spoiler alert… I’m going to give you the answer right up front and the answer is…. It depends. I know that doesn’t seem like a very good answer, but hear me out. What I mean by it depends is it depends entirely on you. It depends on your goals, your skills, the time you have to devote to recording, and ultimately how much work you are willing to put into it.
When I got into recording and music production, I was coming from a place of necessity. I had been a touring musician for years and thought to myself that I had all the knowledge I needed to make great music all on my own, so why should I pay someone money that I didn’t need to? So I purchased an Avid M-Box; not the most expensive interface out there, but certainly not the cheapest either. It came with a lite version of Pro Tools, which looked super familiar from my days recording in professional studios. So I got to work. I recorded about 5 songs, put in what I thought was the necessary amount of time and energy, got a mix that I was happy with and exported it. What happened? The mixes sucked!
I couldn’t understand why my mixes sounded so bad when I did everything I remember the guy in the chair doing at the last Studio I recorded in. The answer is obvious, but it actually took me a long time to grasp the concept. My years of playing and writing music as an artist did not immediately translate into recording and mixing knowledge. This is where I will go back to my point above. It really depends entirely on you. I took my initial failures and dug in, I searched out as much information about working in Pro Tools as I could find and soaked it all in. I found tutorial after tutorial on YouTube and learned from engineers that were already working in the industry. I also went deeply into debt buying the gear that I kept seeing in said videos. The point here is I invested the time and so often the money and I learned what I was doing and why I was doing it and after a long time; my mixes improved.
So again, it depends entirely on you, what you want to accomplish and how much time and effort you are willing to put into it. You can learn to record for yourself, I am living proof. The question is do you want to spend the time and dedication to learning a new advanced set of skills, only to probably be disappointed at first; or would it be a better use of your time working on writing songs and perfecting your instrument(s) of choice and have someone else do the work to make it sound professional? I cannot answer that question for you, I can only lend you some of my experience and my opinion is that yes, professional recording studios, engineers, and producers are still very much necessary and yes, even if you are trying to get to a point where you are doing it all for yourself, it is still probably a good idea to work with them. At first, from time to time, while you are still learning… You don’t have to relegate yourself to say you will never do this for yourself but learning from professionals will save you a lot of time and heartache. I wish I would have been given that advice 10 years ago. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, and you might be surprised by how accessible and affordable hiring a studio might turn out to be.