Control – Now I’m All Grown Up

The decentralization of the recording studio industry is in full force now, and musicians are able to do more for themselves than ever before (so we’re told). This mindset trickles down to the studio industry as well. So many studio owners are concerned about the well-being of their studio but also don’t seem to want to do anything to change their business practices.

I was reading this article from The Independent (a U.K. newspaper) about Arcade Fire and the article mentioned the fact the band was a pretty cost-conscious operation:

“they controlled their own rights from day one…[t]hey very cost-effectively made their first album, and then made some strategic deals that would bring in some money for them to buy their own recording studio and be able to be self-sufficient and make their own recordings. They pay for everything themselves and deliver it to their licensees. No label will ever commission anything that they do. Their videos, their artwork, their photographs – they pay for everything. They have complete control.”

I remember the first time I head about a band buying their own equipment with record label money. It was Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and it was in the mid 90’s. I’m sure that’s not the first time a band has bought recording equipment, but I do remember that was the first time I thought about the fact that there doesn’t have to be a separation between musician and engineer.

If we want to keep this studio business thriving and want our own studio to stay afloat, don’t forget that the power is in the musicians’ hands. Can they take the equipment that’s available today and make a great-sounding record by themselves? Yes. If we as studio owners understand that fact and work with artists to achieve their musical visions instead of feeling like we have to fend off attacks from the digital home recording world, we may do a lot better than we’ve done in the past.

One Reply to “Control – Now I’m All Grown Up”

  1. When it comes down to it, I think alot of studios really forget what they are. Technically, we are a SERVICE, but we're also so much more than that. We form relationships, we work WITH the artist, not just for them. They are lucky to have us, and we are lucky to have them.
    And yeah, it's easy for an artist to make GREAT sounding album. It's POSSIBLE, but not likely. Because when an artist chooses to not use professionals, usually the product they end up with is unprofessional. I didn't realize how much a difference it was until I watched some of the best session players out of Nashville throw down in probably the best sounding studio in the Shoals. Having great engineers mixing your tracks, having a great producer to help your songs be more fluid, and having a great mastering engineer to make your album sound like they actually belong on the same album… all that makes an incredible difference.

    I've heard an artist complain about professionals, too. "Man, that producer tried to change the arrangement of my songs!" I just replied "Well, (fake name)Bill, that's because your songs are shit."

    They get paid… WE get paid, because we know what we're doing. That's why, out of all these bands and artists that try to produce their own album and get famous all by themselves, most of them bite the dust.

    Now… the first half and the bottom half of this may be contradictory, but there's a reason. Yes, the egos of the studios are leading them to lesser profit. Nobody wants to pay that much, but no studio wants to charge such cheap rates. But the egos of the artists are getting pretty high, too. Any Joe with an Mbox and ProTools LE thinks they can just pop out a record without any experience in the real world, and have it stand up to the big boys.

    Everybody's just shooting themselves in the foot. Studio's have to realize it's not 1970 anymore, and artists (take in mind, I do realize that some artists are talented enough to get it right and be successful, but everybody knows "that guy" that think's he's a ProTools whiz because he stuck an SM57 up to an acoustic guitar and sound came out…)…artists have to realize it's not Fairy Tale land.

    We're all working for the same cause, everybody.

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