How long does it take to record?

This is by far the most common question people ask, yet it's one of the most frustrating because there really is no consistent answer. Every project is different, every musician is different, every person is different. Say you want a simple song for your family while your friend wants a professional track to get downloaded by millions. Your friend is going to spend much more time perfecting every vocal performance, every guitar solo, and every drum fill. Also, if he brings in his high-school "garage drummer" buddy who's never recorded before, it will likely take longer than if we use a studio drummer. There are so many variables, so the best thing to do is come in for a free consultation and we'll work through those variables and give you a more specific idea what your project will look like.

HOWEVER. We've been doing this a long time and can give you some numbers based on our experience. When single-tracking, most instruments take between 1 and 3 hours, per song, to record (and edit, if applicable). Live drums, including setup, can be anywhere from 3 - 6 hours per song.

Remember, there's more involved in recording than just coming in and performing. Which mic is best for your voice? Which preamp is best for your guitar? What kind of sound do you want out of your kick drum? Your snare? These questions will be the difference between an "okay" song and a professional production. So always include that process when planning your recording project.

What are your rates?

Our base rate for recording is $60/hr. See our Services page for more details on the rates for all our services.

What are your policies for payments?

You can view/download a copy of our Info and Policies here.

What are the different aspects of a recording project and how can I best prepare?

  • Writing your song(s) and ideally performing them multiple times before you record
  • Arranging your songs for a recording
    • Your live versions might not translate well to a recording, so think about how they'll need to be tweaked in order to make your listeners happy.
  • Budgeting for your project
    • A consultation with the studio is a must, especially for first-time recording artists.
  • Tracking
    • Repetition
      • To be fully prepared to record, you should sing/play your song(s) 50-100 times before going into a recording studio. Repetition will not only help your performance in the studio, it will refine your song. If you're a singer, think about whether the high note should be in your falsetto or chest voice, where your breaths should be, etc. If you're a lead guitar player, work out your solo ahead of time. Drummer? Learn how to tune your drums properly. There's a lot you can do before going in to record that will save time AND get you better results.
    • Plan the Process! 
      • In which order are the instruments getting recorded? If you're a band, are you playing live or single-tracking? Are you recording to a click track? These are all things that require planning ahead of time. If you find that wading through all the details is overwhelming, consider hiring a producer. For more info, see our blog post "5 Reasons You Need a Producer"
  • Editing: Comping, Pitching, and More
    • Comping
      • A lot of people don't know about this step. Also, it can be a little controversial. In the olden days, people had to record a song all the way through just right or they'd have to do the whole thing all over again. Nowadays, we do something called comping. This is where you record 3-5 takes and as long as they are all accurate and don't suck in general, we'll go through them and pick the best parts, either section by section or phrase by phrase, creating a "composite" track of all the best parts. Some people are opposed to this and it is not required by any means. But it can get you the best result in the shortest amount of time, so we typically "lean that direction" for most projects.
    • Pitching
      • At JCP, we strive for a moderate approach to pitch correction. We like to fix the out of tune notes while not turning you into a robot. If you want the "autotune" sound (which is basically a stylistic choice), we can certainly provide that. If you don't want any pitch correction, we'll leave it alone. But "everything in moderation" tends to work well in the pitch correction process.
    • Timing Corrections
      • So you and your band worked really hard on your song, in writing, arranging, and tracking process. The song are finished but as your listening, you notice there are still a few places where the timing just isn't quite right between the bass, guitars, and drums. If you'd rather not bring your gear back in and re-record, JCP can fix many of these timing problems in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Mixing
    • This is where we take all the instruments in your song and blend them together to perfection, using compression, EQ, reverb, delay, and more.
      • To prepare: Be aware of the music you like the sound of, especially music that inspired your songs. Prepare a list of reference material for JCP to listen to - as detailed as you can make it - that will help your mixes turn out exactly the way you'd like them to.
  • Mastering
    • Many people are still unaware of this extremely important process. Mastering takes place after all the songs are mixed. Rather than working with individual instruments, mastering engineers work with whole songs. They listen with "fresh ears" to determine which frequencies to boost and which ones to cut. They apply compression and limiting to the point that the overall volume of the track is at an industry-standard level. And they make sure each song on your album is at the same overall level.
  • Layout/Graphics
    • What your product looks like will hugely determine how many copies you sell. Spend time giving it a look that represents the overall tone of your project and will make people want to buy it.
  • Duplication
    • Think about how many copies you will be able to sell. Give yourself a goal to reach but be realistic so you don't end up with piles of CDs laying around that never sell.

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

What's the difference between an Engineer and a Producer?

The roles of an engineer and a producer are largely different but can overlap...which makes the answer a bit complicated. In short, the engineer is responsible for all the technical aspects of the recording (mic position, preamp gain, etc) and generally takes direction from the producer. The producer is responsible for the overall direction of the project, is much more involved on a musical level, and is the one who makes all the decisions throughout the project. For a more in depth description of these roles, check out this article.

How do I decide which song development option is right for me??

The 3 pricing options hinge on the kind of production/instrumentation you want, as well as how "pro" you want your song to sound. The available time for this process is determined by how long the first few steps take. Below are some estimates of this process, for your reference.

  • Basic arranging (lyrics, form, chords, etc.): 1 - 3 hours
    • In-depth arranging: 4 - 8 hours
  • Scratch vocal, with instrument if applicable: 30min - 1 hr
  • Finished vocal track: 1 - 3 hours
  • Finished guitar/piano track, if you're a performer: 1 - 3 hours

So at this point, we've spent between 3.5 and 15 hours on song structure, scratch tracks, and finished vocal and single instrument tracks. That's a very big difference which is largely determined by how much we "refine" the structure of your song. Most projects will end up somewhere in the middle, around 6 - 8 hours.

Additionally, the mixing process will take between 1 and 8 hours depending on the complexity of your song and level of "pro"-ness you want.

If you compare these numbers to the 3 options, you should have an idea what each one gives you in terms of production/instrumentation time.

  • Why does each option in "Song Development" have a range of time and why do they overlap?

This is largely determined by Jeremy's level of proficiency in getting the instrumentation tracks recorded. The first number in the range is the desired completion time. The second number is a cushion, in case the tracks don't come together as quickly as intended for the number of tracks desired (typically, the higher the option, the more tracks added).

  • Is it possible to pay more than $775 for song development and production, not including Orchestration?

Yes, on rare occasion. $775 might seem like a lot to pay for one song (it kind of is...), but we have had people pay twice that much in a few extreme cases. $775 gets us between 18 and 27 hours for the whole process from beginning to end, which really isn't that much time in terms of developing, recording, and mixing a complex piece of music. So while it is less common, it's certainly possible to spend between 40 and 50 hours on a single song. In the rare occasions where this happens, any time beyond 27 hours will be billed at our discounted (block) rates (see "Audio Production" for details).

  • How about $350? Is it possible to complete song development and production for less than that?

Not really. Based on years of experience, we've figured $350 as our baseline number for completing a track, as it's very difficult for the song development and production process to go any faster. In the very rare occasion where it does, we will give you a discount!