Polishing the music
This last decade has seen new technology develop, allowing artists to record their work at home.
But it is the recording studio that brings a team of professionals who can help them polish their music to perfection. Studio producers can work with artists to arrange their music in the most effective way, mixing can add effects to a recorded track and mastering can enhance the overall sound quality of an album or song.
Music companies play a key role in the recording of albums and singles.
Professional studio production costs vary widely, but for a pop or rock album, they commonly exceed US$200,000. This investment underpins the livelihoods of a community of professionals working on a recording including studio producers, sound engineers and session musicians.
The studio process of creating a hit single is collaborative with his artists.
The essence of the track may be original and exciting, but perhaps the arrangement is all wrong. Certain factors come into play with drum and bass tracks – how they flow, what kind of intro they have, how long the main body of the track is. They need to be corralled into something that is commercially viable for release. There’s a fantastic track struggling to get out of this – Producers help you to refine it.
Music executives sometimes adopt a more hands-off approach to the detail of recording.
Music executives A&R the artist and the manager, but don’t always A&R the record. They want to allow the artist as much creative control as possible. Some artists value such an approach.
Assembling great talent
Expertise in the production stages can be the key to the success of the finished album.
A producer may advise on the arrangements you had included in your demo. Perhaps he removes a lot of the sounds and turns up the volume of the singing. The result could be incredible.
Partnering with other performers is a great way to enhance an artist’s work.
Labels often facilitate this process. Anne Murray, the Grammy-winning star signed to EMI Music Canada, has sold more than 54 million albums to date. EMI, Murray and her manager Bruce Allen arranged performances with artists including Shania Twain and Nelly Furtado for Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends. The album went double-Platinum in Canada and Platinum in the US.
There is a myth that sound quality no longer matters in the digital age.
On the contrary, label heads say it is a huge issue. Tracks might sound entirely different on a PC, an iPod or in a club. You have to tick all the boxes and find a way that it will sound fantastic on a portable player through cheap headphones, but also sound phat on a system in a club. It drives the track’s success if it is played in a DJ club set.
A producer’s job is similar to that of a film director.
You need to develop the vision very early and bring together all the components for realising it. The hallmark of a good producer is to be able to combine creativity, planning, ability to work with artists and a distinctive hallmark that gives them a recognition value.
Choosing the singles
The marketing and promotional push around singles can still be crucial to an artist’s success.
Digital single sales have, to date, outstripped digital album sales, while activity on streaming and subscription services is centred on well publicised commercial hits.
Artists often value advice on which tracks would be the most effective singles to release.
Artists love all their tracks – they are all their babies – but they don’t always know which should be used to build a singles campaign.
“For example,” Ged Doherty at Sony Music states,” when we worked on Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten album, we knew we needed the first single to distinguish her from her brother, showcase her more edgy side and introduce her to dance music fans and we felt we had that with Single; the second to broaden her audience and the third to be her mainstream crossover anthem which we felt we had in Unwritten. Because we didn’t feel we had the track that fitted the criteria for the second single, she went back to the studio and wrote These Words, which became a number one hit love song all about the difficulty of writing a hit love song.”
Record labels can also work with artists to find and select songs to record.
In some cases, these may be freshly commissioned tracks written by songwriters and offered by music publishers. In other cases, these may be previously recorded and performed songs that an artist will release as a “cover version”, bringing their own qualities to a track.
Once the singles are selected, labels and artists work together to create videos to promote them.
Again, labels offer commercial advice to artists to help them secure maximum exposure. Ed St John of Warner Music Australia says that Eskimo Joe had total creative freedom when writing Black Fingernails, Red Wine, but there were “frank discussions” about a supporting video. “They wanted to make a commercial, crossover album. The partnership worked seamlessly, but they wanted to make an arty video and we explained we needed something that could get played on TV.”
Even if your an independent artist, you still need to think like a label. Marketing and promotion of your singles and album releases is critical. This is what we do!