10 Good Things to Know When Recording Your Independent CD

1. Include some variety in your production. If every track is bursting with
instruments, solos and vocals, try a simple accompaniment of only one instrument. If the CD consists mostly of simple tracks, try adding a live drummer, horn or percussionist for extra color and pop.

2.Try to include a live instrument or two if your production consists mostly of synthesized and sampled sounds. Keyboards don’t have the variance of pitch, timing and sound complexity that acoustic sounds have, so the result can be a smaller, closed-in type of aural space. Just a few real-time performances can breathe a lot of life into a track.

3. When recording your master vocals, make sure your microphone is of the
very highest quality. It is the most crucial part of the recording chain, and no fx or equalizing can make up for a poorly recorded vocal. If you find that popping your t’s and p’s is a problem (even with a pop filter), raise or lower the mic just a little bit to avoid singing directly into the capsule.

4. If you are working with the EQ of the voices and instruments during mixing, it’s always a good idea to “subtract first.” Find the frequency band that sounds
indistinct or “muddy” and lower the gain. Remember that an instrument that sounds great when heard on solo might not sound as good when all the other tracks are playing.

5. Always create a instrumental-only TV track. After the mix is completed, turn off the lead vocal and record the instrumental track only. You never know when this track will come in handy. Perhaps it could be used for lip-syncing, or maybe some (or part) of the track could find another life in a different context, like background music, a jingle, or source music for film or TV.

6.Make sure your song sequence is working to maximize the impact you
want your music to have. Arranging the order of your songs is a minor art
form of it’s own! Because most people listen to CDs from the beginning, make sure your first three songs among the strongest you have. Avoid successive songs in the same key or tempo. Songs in keys that are only a step or half step apart can sound discordant. You can change the order even after mixing and mastering is complete. Try getting a dub with different sequences and “live with it” for awhile.

7.Don’t skip the mastering step. By adjusting songs levels and tweaking
EQ, mastering could improve your project 10 to 15%. It’s a good idea to find outside people who specialize in mastering, as they will have fresh ears on the project and are used to thinking about a CD as a whole.

8. Make sure your CD’s graphics look professional. This is the main clue that
consumers get about the time, care and passion you put into your project.
And, if you are going to charge as much money as the big kids, make sure it looks like money. Also, be sure to include the bar code, as many retail stores will insist on this.

9. When arranging your manufacturing, know the difference between reproduction and replication. Reproduction is duplicating your master CD onto a pre-existing disc in the same general way as you do on your home PC. It is the quick and affordable choice for small runs (under 1000 copies), but sometimes has a higher failure rate than replication. Replication involvesa glass master and produces the same type of CD you’ll find at your record store.

10. Don’t forget to promote. There is nothing like the stimulation and
inspiration of expanding your audience and getting your music heard. Give
your audience a chance to buy your music and learn more about you online.
Offer your CD at your website and with web music stores like CD Baby. For promotion, it’s the best deal going

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