HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RECORD A DEMO OR AN ALBUM?

       This is probably the most common question for anyone who is thinking about doing their first demo or album project. Channel 4 News once did a spot on an artist at DKS Productions and I was asked this very question. The loaded question led me to give a very vague answer, but prompted me to think about how to answer this question in the future. It was very clear that the only way to answer the question was to have answers to all of these questions.

• ...How many songs will you be recording?

• ...Who is your targeted audience, radio play or demo?

• ...Do you have a band and if not, do you need backing tracks?

• ...If you need backing tracks, do you prefer live musicians or Midi production?

• ...What is the instrumentation for each and every song?

• ...Do you need an arranger? For how many songs?

• ...Do you need a producer? (If you've never recorded an album before, you probably do!)

• ...Do you need a graphic artist and/or photographer?

• ...How many units of cassettes and or CD's will you be manufacturing?

• ...Have you made any demos to get an idea of how long it will take to record each
performance? (...and feel pleased with it!)
       

        If you can answer all of these questions then it is much easier to determine a budget. Although with each studio and each producer comes a different price tag, it's only possible to give estimates based on past experience with a given studio and producer.
        Below are some examples of recordings that have come through DKS Productions. Hopefully it can give you a start on how to create a budget for your project if you were to choose DKS Productions. These numbers are based on artists and musicians being completely prepared to record. Budgets can go through the roof if people are not ready or don't have their music together or a producer overseeing the project. 

RECORDING COSTS MIXING
Soloist instrument/voice $100-$500 $100-$500
Small band/combo $250-$750 $250-$750
Vocal group/ensemble $750-$1000 $750-$1000
Vocal group w/band $1000-$3000 $1000-$3000

       In addition to recording and mixing, there are many other things to be aware of when creating a budget for a recording project. Below are some more examples of various expenses that you need to think about, like Music Arranging, hiring Musicians and Producers, Mastering, Packaging and Manufacturing, etc.

        Music Arranging fees will vary greatly depending on the instrumentation and complexity of the songs. Below is a guide based on past arrangements from DKS Productions.

PER SONG ARRANGEMENT COSTS PRINTED CHARTS
Small band/combo $100-$300 $100-$200
Vocal group/ensemble $100-$300 $100-$200
Vocal group w/band $200-$400 $200-$350

        *these examples are for printed charts accompanying the arrangement. They are not typesetting fees for past arrangements. (For example a Vocal group w/band arrangement and accompanying printed charts may cost $400-$750.)

        Midi Trax are background accompaniments created in a computer and made from provided sheet music or a provided demonstration tape. The cost is usually based on how many instruments need to be sequenced into the computer. Below are some examples:

PER SONG TRAX COSTS PRINTED CHARTS
Keyboard/Synth $50-$100 $50-$100
Piano/bass/drums $100-$200 $100-$200
Full MIDI back-up $200-$400 $200-$400

        Sequenced Arrangements are one of the hardest things to budget for. Because of their nature, they are the easiest to edit. Editing takes time and costs money, therefore the best thing to do is to know what you're after before you begin. Give the arranger examples on tape or CD of what you are interested in rather that just explaining that you want a "jazzy kind of thing". Your terminology and the arranger's could be and are probably completely different, therefore either know what you want or know your arranger's style. Custom sequence arrangements will cost between $200 & $500 per song at DKS Productions.

        Hiring Professional Musicians can be the most expensive part of recording an album, but if you cut corners in this area it can become even more costly in the editing and mixing stage. The average rate starts at $50 per hour, yet some musicians with known album credits can get $100-$200 per song. Below is one example:

4 Piece Studio Band - 10 songs recorded in 8 hours
(Piano/Bass/Drums/Guitar) per musician $400 x 4 = $1600

        Experienced Producers will tell you that using your Uncle Ted to play drums, because he'll do it for free and save you $400, will cost you more than that during editing and mixing as you try to clean up the tracks. Sometimes it can cost much more because the artist decides it isn't happening and now needs to re-record the tracks with the drummer the Producer recommended in the first place. (Sorry Uncle Ted)

        Other costs such as Editing and Mastering vary greatly depending on what is needed and the hourly rate of the studio. Below are some typical editing and mastering fees at DKS Productions:

Per Song Editing: $50-$200 (misc. repairs, pitch correction, etc.)
Mastering: $100-$300 (10-15 songs)

        There have been many articles written about Mastering and DKS Productions offers this service to all their clients. Yet if budget allows, it is always a good idea to have a different set of ears than that of the mix engineer to make the necessary adjustments to your final master. A commercial mastering house makes these adjustments everyday and although it can be expensive, it can be the best investment in your whole project. Prices can range from $500-$1000.

        Graphic Art & Design can be handled by the manufacturer or can be done by the artist of your choice. We recommend finding someone with a lot of experience and choosing an artist you feel comfortable working with. Communication is everything at this stage, and the wrong choice can cost you more money, and hold up the release of your project. See the DKS Productions graphics price list for detailed costs of our design packages. Examples below:

Custom cover art $80-$1000
Cassette graphics package
$170-$250
CD graphics package $270-$500
CD & cassette package $370-$600

        Producers fees will vary depending on the experience and credits the producer has. You can expect to pay $250-$500 per song or a 2.5%-10% commission on all sales made from the production. Some producers charge less up front and more commission, others just the opposite. DKS Productions will work with independent artists on an individual contract basis. Please inquire for more information.

    Typical Producer fees:     $2000-$5000        (10-15songs)

        Manufacturing costs vary depending on the number of units being duplicated. We recommend looking at a DiscMakers catalog, as it is very thorough in its pricing. There are ways of cutting costs, but for the most part expect to pay under $1 per cassette under $2 per CD for your first run of 1000 units.

        A Recording Budget is offered at DKS Productions free of charge to serious inquiries only. You must be able to answer all of the questions listed above in order to receive an accurate estimate. A good rule of thumb once you have an estimate to work with, is to have funds available for 150% of the recording budget. In our experience many projects come in around 25% over budget.

        How much does it cost to record an album? With DKS Productions it could cost $3000 or it could cost $30,000. For a better estimate, give us a call and let's get together!