5 Bad Questions artists ask about recording (Part 3)

Bad question #3:

What's the cheapest we can get this done? (Or it's close cousin: How much can we do for $100)


Everyone is on some kind of budget, and you absolutely should make a plan for how you're going to afford your project. You should be able to get at least ballpark prices from anyone in advance, and that's part of wise planning. Like question #2, the reasons this question is bad is typically because of where it comes from. 

First, many of the people asking it are still weighing question #1 (see the first post in this series), and essentially expecting a professional to compete with free. Let me say a few things without hopefully being too defensive: I don't know anyone in this industry that is out to get rich by ripping off artists. Everyone I know isn't doing either! We got into recording/producing because we're crazy about music, we understand the seriousness of someone trusting us with their songs, and it's a big deal to us that everything is as good as it can be. A great producer or engineer pushes themselves as hard as the artist to deliver a great record. 

The market for music is changing rapidly, competition is massive, and prices have fallen like crazy. Good news: you're already getting a great deal on your record because it's 2017. Your record would've cost 5 times as much for a comparable level of quality 20 years ago. 


Here's the big thing for me, as a songwriter and artist myself: when you are handing the deepest part of your heart and passion into someone else's hands, maybe how cheap we can do this isn't the #1 thing you want to be thinking about. If you really do believe in your potential, and you're entrusting your future to someone else in a big way, maybe you don't want to be looking for the most budget way possible. 

Unfortunately, a lot of recording professionals get so tired of arguing with and explaining things to the client that they will cave and let things happen that shouldn't. I've been guilty. Corners get cut because after awhile you give up caring more about the quality of the project than the client does. 

You usually are just going to get what you pay for. 

One of the biggest things that can help is just doing fewer songs. In 2017, no one cares if you did a full length album. Better to spend all your budget on a great single than have a mediocre EP. 

Better question: based on our budget, how many songs do you think we should do?