The Changing Face of the RECORD INDUSTRY
How inexpensive computer instruments has redefined today’s recording music industry.
by André Saunders
The recording industry built a vast empire by purchasing an artist’s future artistic services through a (%) percentage arrangement. The deal required a recording company to invest in the development of an artist into a recording entity. The company provides the artist with a record producer, who in turn finds a song or arrangement of a song for the artist to record, books studio time and records the song. Once the song’s recording is complete, the company then manufactures/markets the record. This is always a costly venture for a recording company as there is no guarantee that the deal is successful until the artist’s album hits the airwaves and the record stores.
I made my first recording at Bell Sound Recordings Studio, New York City in 1958. At that time, the industry standard for recording was mono, or one-track recording. This early style of recording meant that all instruments were miked, individually. All songs, both music and vocals had to be recorded at the same time. Drum kits were miked individually with a minimum of five mikes to obtain a good sound.
In that same year, Les Paul invented sound-on-sound recording or multi-track recording. This process changed the recording process, in that it allowed separate musical or vocal performances. First, there was mono (1-track) recording, then stereo (2-track) recording then, eight, sixteen, twenty-four, and now forty eight-track recording. All were industry standard recording formats that required buying time from recording studio.
The rental rates at studios varied depending on the popularity of the studio. The rate at a popular recording studio is a minimum of $100 per hour, a steal in the year 2002!
Consider, to record vocal performances and musical performances for one song takes approximately fifteen hours per song and a record requires at least two sides; $3000. Consider, the cost of musicians, tape cost and the average actual cost per two sides is approximately $5000. It is only after a recording is complete can you listen and truly determine if you have a “hit” or not. The cost of recording production has always been recouped from the artist collected royalties.