How Much Does it Cost to Make a Record?

When my clients, Ryvoli, first came to me they were overwhelmed and confused.

And why wouldn’t they be?

They’d read blogs and online forums that professed that D.I.Y. home recording methods were the way to go. Yet, when they’d tried to record themselves, it was frustrating and fruitless.

They’d realized that most of the people on the Internet singing the praises of home recording make their money through affiliate commissions or they’re hobbyists…

They noticed that successful artists were too busy building their fan bases to be bothered with posting on forums.

They also noted that when they researched who worked on their favorite records… 80%+ had producers at the helm.

Being convinced that they would need a producer, their next question was naturally…

“How much is this going to cost?”

Unfortunately, the answer is, “it depends.” Before anyone can answer that for you, you need to able to answer these questions:

  • “Why do I want to make this recording?”
  • “What’s the intended outcome?”

Answers usually fall into one of two categories:

  1. I want to take my music career to the next level and a great record is the first step in that direction.
  2. I love making music and want to document mine. I want my family, friends and future generations to hear. Plus, recording sounds like a fun thing to do.

If you fall into the first category…

You should be thinking about ROI (Return On Investment). A recording isn’t an expense. It’s an asset that can continue to work for you in the years to come. It can pay for itself and then continue to put money in your pocket over time.

A recording can also gain you new fans. Those new fans will then spend money in the form of concert tickets, merch, and future recordings. Recordings always have been and always will be the lifeblood of an artist’s career, no matter the state of music distribution channels.

Imagine investing $30k in a 10-song album. You could pool your own resources, crowd-fund, take out a small loan, or even use a credit card to pay for it.

Now, imagine the record recoups (i.e. pays for itself) after the first year. Any record sales after that are pure profit! And imagine, it keeps recouping again and again. Year after year. Over a 5 year period you could potentially…

Net $120k Off That One Album

Then you could put out a new album every year (live album, 2nd album, Christmas album, 3rd album, etc.).

It might take a few years but eventually you could get to a point where you won’t even need to tour. You could live off album sales alone.

Can you say, ‘passive income?’

For those of you thinking “no one buys records anymore” or “there’s no money in streaming.” That simply isn’t true. If you build a loyal fanbase, your fans will buy your records to support you. (Especially in the form of pre-sales, bundles, vinyl and tour-only releases.)

In fact, I just had a conversation with a long-time client this week. He was ecstatic that his band had finally hit the passive income milestone and that touring is now optional for them.

If you fall into the second category…

A good way to think about your budget is like a vacation.

When you take a vacation you’re not concerned with ROI (Return On Investment).

The questions you ask yourself are:

  • “What kind of vacation do I want to take?”
  • “Can I afford to take this vacation right now?”
  • And provided it’s a good experience, “Will I be able to do this again on some kind of regular basis?”

So, likewise, ask yourself:

  • “What kind of recording experience do I want to have?”
  • “How much can I afford to spend on this recording?”
  • “How soon will I want to do this again?”

Now, I want to give you the full spectrum of total investment amounts that you might run across in the wide-world of record production…

Let’s start at the top. The top 1% producers charge sky-high rates. I recently heard that Rick Rubin quoted a well-known band…

$237,000 for ONE SONG.

I’ve heard that T Bone Burnett charges $10,000 for the privilege of crediting him as “Executive Producer.” This means that he didn’t actually produce the record but he did give it a listen and give his stamp of approval.

Outside of these producers operating in the stratosphere, most major label project budgets start in the $50,000+ per album range. You’ll find established producers, Grammy winners and nominees here.

Somewhere below that, you have up and coming producers requiring lower investments …if you’re lucky snag them at the right time in their career before they ascend to the next range.

Lastly, on the bottom end of the spectrum you have guys on laptops working out of their Mom’s basement. They’ll be eager to do it on the cheap or even for free so they can “gain experience.” Sadly, they’re usually the only ones that come out ahead. You get what you paid for and they learn from the mistakes they made on your music. Maybe in a few more albums they’ll be good but you don’t have time to wait for that, do you?

At this point, you know what your goals are and you can begin the process of contacting producers that you admire.

That’s exactly what my clients, Ryvoli, did after seeing my name on the back of a Penny & Sparrow record. Here’s what Ryvoli has to say about working with me on their latest batch of songs:

Working with Chris was the perfect balance of planning and then just seeing what the hell happens! His posture and home-studio environment were so welcoming and professional. For our band, it was an absolute dream working with this next level producer. Chris is an insanely talented audio engineer and musician. He fostered a very laid-back, creative space where we could let the songs really take shape in the moment. As a producer, he just gets the big picture of where you are coming from and where you want to go. He helps protect the sound you want while at the same time exploring new ideas. We cannot wait to go back!! —

Happy hunting,

Chris

P.S. If you want to know…

  • What a record producer actually does?
  • How a record producer can help you not only capture your sound but also virtually shave years off of your journey from day job to pursuing music full-time?
  • The difference between a recording engineer and a record producer?
  • How to choose a record producer?

Start here.

P.P.S If you’re ready to start planning your recording project or if you have any questions about my services, you’re invited to either:

  • Send me an email.
  • Fill out a brief questionnaire to let me know what you’re up to, what music you like and what your current goals and challenges are. Then I can get back to you with some strategic tips to take your career to the next level.

Even if we don’t end up working together, I’ve dedicated my business to educating artists and I’d be more than happy to help you in any way that I can.

P.P.P.S. Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to 8elements.chrisjacobie.com now and download your FREE copy of ‘The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now‘ Checklist.

Testimonials

penny-and-sparrow-thumb

It is no exaggeration to say that without Chris Jacobie we wouldn’t be a band today. He has been with us since we were playing for 6 people in Austin & was there a few nights ago when we played for 1,000.

Penny & Sparrow

Austin, TX & Florence, AL
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“Chris has some of the best ears and ideas in the business! Plus, he makes an artist feel at ease and welcome in a studio environment.”

Decca Recording Artist: Jarrod Dickenson

Nashville, TN
ryvoli-thumb

As a producer, Chris just gets the big picture of where you are coming from and where you want to go. He helps protect the sound you want while at the same time exploring new ideas. We cannot wait to go back!”

Ryvoli

Lexington, KY
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"The questions Chris asked and the challenges he posed along the way broadened my understanding of myself as a songwriter, and of the craft itself.”

Nick Dahlquist

St. Louis, MO
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“I don't know enough about sound and audio to say why, but I know that when I work with Chris, I can trust that he knows what I want. And that's totally kickass!”

JP Ruggieri

Nashville, TN
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“We love Chris's creativity in the studio. Working with him is like a360-degreee musical experience. It's AWESOME!”

Willow City

Fredericksburg, TX

Chris Jacobie

Hi, my name is Chris Jacobie. I'm a music producer from San Antonio, TX. I help musicians make better records ...even if they don't have much money.

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