Making music won’t always be cheap – but costs can greatly vary. Although there are various ways to create a quality release without totally breaking the bank, it’s important you set a realistic budget and timeline.
Key things to consider to ensure your release looks and sounds the part include:
Mixing and mastering
Mixing and mastering are two separate but equally important parts of the audio production process – and not something to cut corners on.
You can learn to mix and master online – with lots of practice. But to save time and guarantee quality, it’s always best to hire someone who knows what they’re doing – preferably a trusted sound engineer whose work you already know and like.
The cost of mixing and mastering varies, depending on the things like the skills of the mixer and the mastering engineers, and the length, complexity and number of channels required.
Engineers generally offer hourly, per track and flat day rates – and work from both smaller home spaces and larger studios. Rates can range from a few hundred to a few thousand, depending on what’s required. Check out our free guide to recording (from mixing to mastering) as well as how to make music sticking to a budget.
After you’ve spent time perfecting pre-production and recorded your individual tracks, a mix engineer can work their magic to polish it, set the levels and make your recording sound exceptional.
After mixing is completed, a mastering engineer can bring out the very best in your sound to allow listeners to both hear and feel your music. The result is a high-fidelity, clear and cohesive-sounding track that is enjoyable to listen to on all types of playback. Mastering is the crucial difference between sounding like an amateur and a professional artist.
Although you should always use knowledgeable mix and mastering pros, you don’t have to go for big-name studio engineers. Savvy junior engineers have interned with the best, worked on diverse projects – but are a fraction of the costs.
As an alternative to going with costlier traditional methods, you can also consider using one of our partners that offer online mixing and mastering services, like the iconic Abbey Road Studios.
Photography, design and videos are all important visuals to promote your release, so you should have a clear vision about how you want to be represented. To ensure you get what you need:
• Write a brief with clear guidelines identifying what you want
• Set a clear budget and timeframes
• Use your network of creators
• Research potential creatives to create a shortlist
• Ask for past work examples
• Agree on a contract – including delivery timeframes and costs. Yes, even for smaller projects from that guy you really like.
Your release checklist
Even before you begin recording, it’s important to consider how much time and money you can realistically invest in the release process. Once this is clear, you can focus on creating an epic, attention-grabbing release by:
• Getting the artwork specifications right to ensure they meets retailer and streaming requirements.
• Getting the audio file format right. Remember MP3s are not accepted by most major digital music stores.
• Getting the release information right, including the release title, artist name, genre, language, release date and country of release.
Creating additional content
Creating additional content to support your release and share on social media can build a real buzz about your release. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Use free tools like Canva to create artwork or find budding photographers and designer on forums like Gumtree.
Additional content can include:
• Videos – a slick music video can increase your social reach and grab the attention of new fans and industry peeps alike. Lyric and live-streaming videos are also enticing. Need help? Our friends at Rotor Videos create impressive, inexpensive lyric videos and you get a discount as a spinnup artist. Check the partners page your artist account for details
• Photos – promo shots, live photography, 360-photos giving sneak-peeks into back stage, pre-show or studio sessions work well.
• Social designs – exciting social covers and profile designs help you stand out and can build momentum through sharing.
• Gifs – a fun way for you to engage with your fans on social and show your creative, humours side.
Creating a home studio
Building a home studio and choosing the right equipment can be overwhelming – and initially expensive. There’s a lot to consider. But when you’re just starting out, keep it simple.
If you’re already making music, presumably you have a decent computer and DAW (digital audio workstation) and should now think about adding:
• Headphones – not the earbud variety, you need over-the-ear, circumaural headphones for monitoring.
• Audio interface – as the device that connects your computer to instruments and mics, it allows you to record different audio signals straight into your DAW.
• Audio cables – literally the lifelines that make things work – so don’t cheap-out.
• A microphone – choose a hard-wearing dynamic mic for live vocals and the stage and a highly sensitive condenser mic for the studio.
• Studio monitors – standard in most home recording studios, monitors aren’t regular speakers. They allow you to accurately hear your mix, so your producing is always on point.
• MIDI Keyboard/Controller – if you’re using a DAW, eventually you’ll need a MIDI to up your control game and take full advantage of your VST plugins and softsynths.
When to save your cash
Although PR, marketing and merch are all part of promoting your release, you don’t have to hire someone. You can save yourself some serious cash by doing it yourself – but be prepared to put in the time, effort and planning. Remember, when it comes to free DIY promotion, social media should be one of your key tools.
Getting new equipment is expensive. So if you’re not ready to spend thousands outfitting your home studio yet, rent equipment instead and make a home studio. Most major cities have music stores that rent all the gear you’ll need – or look out for local community swaps too.
Most importantly, ensure you release looks and sounds great before you put anything out.