The time it takes to record an album can vary widely depending on various factors, including the complexity of the music, the size of the production around it and the artist’s future goals.
At Astar Studios in Manchester we estimate around 5 weeks to record an album, inclusive of a week’s pre-production with producer Andy Ross in order to finalize the arrangement of each individual song. Here are just some of the reasons which would indicate such a time frame that may seem a lot to some people. However, we are a professional studio and do not believe in creating what we would define as a decent demo.
As mentioned above first comes pre-production. This is the process of somewhat preparing for the recording process. Those artists making a professional record will spend time with their producer to look at song arrangements in detail looking at tempos, chord structure and overall trying to be as creative as possible. This is a key part of the process. It also allows the producer to gain an in-depth knowledge of each track, the story behind the lyric and to build a rapport with the artist or band.
The songwriter may also need time to refine their lyrics or even add new lyrics to new sections they have rewritten or added to a song. Many artists may look to co-write or write something from scratch themselves which can also be part of the preproduction process.
By the end of the preproduction week a guide vocal and instrument to a set tempo will be on the computer ready for the actual music to be played, normally starting with drums and bass if tracking parts with real instruments. If using midi this may vary.
The actual recording of tracks can be time-consuming, especially if there are many instruments and vocal parts involved. For example, are you simply recording a 3 piece or is it a larger group with strings or brass. Multiple takes to get the best performance and sound quality will also be recorded and then pieced together. Do not be fooled that your favourite artist has done everything in only one take.
After recording, there’s editing, which includes selecting the best takes, fixing mistakes, and ensuring timing and pitch are correct. This is obviously time consuming. One example might be moving drum hits or comping a selection of vocal takes into one.
After everything has been recorded it is time for the mix. Mixing is the process of blending individual tracks to create the final sound of the album, which requires a lot of attention to detail. This includes the use of eq, effects, compressors, limiters, setting volumes and panning to make each piece of music sit perfectly together to give the best sound it can possibly have. If this process is rushed and the producer is left with too little time then it is impossible to get that professional sound and ultimately you will end up with nothing more than a demo, whether this be from Abbey Road or even the best independent recording studio.
Mastering is the final process. The mastering phase optimizes the final mix for commercial release, ensuring it sounds great across all playback systems. Bad mastering can ruin a previous great mix, so it is imperative to be done well. Some prefer to send their tracks out to a specific mastering house, but others prefer to have it done in house with the existing studio with the producer/engineer already being familiar with how the tracks are meant to sound.
At Astar Studios we do all in house mastering sessions which may be attended if the artist prefers.
Ultimately, be guided by the studio and producer and do not try and rush your music. Always aim for the best and that requires time and patience. We hope to see you soon at www.astarstudios.com.