An Overview of Home Music Production Part I

For decades musicians, composers and songwriters have recorded home music productions. Many were recordings to cassette tape via the Tascam Portastudio released in the late 70's. Some of these recordings became commercially released records like Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska.

While other notable artists have released recordings from semi-professional or consumer recording devices, most had been made in professional recording studios. The quality standards of the pro studio dramatically outweighed those that could be achieved with the available home recording technology.


Home Music Production in the 80's

During the 80's, the advancements of MIDI, synthesizers, drum machines, sampling technology and the ability to sequence and record virtual performances changed the way we made music forever. No longer did you have to convene the band or spend weeks auditioning drummers and bass players to record your songs.

Although it wasn't cheap, songwriters and artists that could afford these emerging technologies would be able to produce and create music from home. Recording audio at home, however, was still an issue. The synchronization technology for locking sequencers and audio tape recorders was still very limited.


A Home Audio Revolution

The home audio recording world got its most significant push toward affordable home music production with the introduction of the Alesis ADAT in 1991. With 8 tracks of digital recording capability and the ability to expand tracks by adding modular ADAT units, artists were free to record audio and easily synchronize with midi sequencers.

With this new technology in hand, many artists began to pre-produce their records, make demos and even record their whole albums on ADAT. Alanis Morrisette, Lisa Loeb, Dr Dre and Outkast come to mind quickly. Although not known for sonic purity or stability, artists began to enjoy the freedom of making a home music production and having it commercially released. Artists were no longer subject to the pressures of recording studio budgets and the need to get work done quickly.


Home Music Production and Computers

The 90's also saw audio come to the personal computer with the evolution of Pro Tools. Though not the first to record audio in a computer, Pro Tools was the first to set the standard for the multitrack recording and editing of audio in computers.

Many commercial recording studios still blame Pro Tools for the demise of the recording studio industry. I believe it may have done more to save the industry than destroy it. Record companies would have lowered studio budgets anyhow, due to piracy on the internet. They also waited too long to embrace the reality that CDs were not going to be the marketplace of the future and thus lost control of it. Lower studio budgets were inevitable. Pro Tools gave studios a less expensive option for recording digital audio that would allow them to absorb some of the hit of lower studio rates.

Think of it this way, in the early 90's, a 48 track digital tape machine would cost a studio $250,000. A 48 track Pro Tools rig would be closer to $50,000. Large format analog recording consoles were as much as $750,000 for 96 channels. A Pro Tools rig would soon meet that capacity and with greater signal flow flexibility. While the sound quality would be nowhere close to that of the big analog desks, the convenience, the editing capabilities, the lower price point and future demand would force studios to buy in.

Like it or not, computer recording technology changed the landscape and design of the recording studio industry forever. Those that didn't buy in have largely failed. Those that did have survived. Although the big studios have been hardest hit, the number of smaller commercial studios that opened far outweighed the number that closed.

Many of those studios were opened by artists who felt that the budget for making their next record was better invested in themselves. By building their own studio instead of spending the budget in big studios, they could continue to record regardless of the success of their record. When not in use, the studio could be rented out to others or used to record and develop new artists as part of a management or record label deal.

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Home Music Production Part I

Home Music Production Part II

Home Studio Design Part I

Home Studio Design Part II

Return to Home from Home Music Production




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