I started off by scaring you with the astronomical baseline budget for the concept album. Then I had to scare you even more telling you about having to do some things yourself. It is a fact that you can save an amazing amount of money if you can do more things yourself. Unfortunately, not everybody has all the skills to do everything. Today I want to talk about another possibility.
With computer technology developing at an blinding pace, computers can now do many of the tasks previously done by expensive humans. I want to tell you a bit about those amazing programs out there. I have no affiliation with any of the companies I will mention, and get no kickbacks on any sales. I am just a normal user of these programs and wish to share my ideas with whoever wish to take note.
To replace that expensive guitar player, there is a nifty little program available, called, RealBand. It comes bundled with a program called Band in a Box.
If you are looking for just strumming guitars, this is perfect. On the fly, however you get much, much more. RealBand is capable of doing acoustic guitars, fingerpicking guitars, electric guitars, drums, bass, piano, and a whole stack of solo instruments, like saxophones. And it does all of this in hundreds of different styles.
The program comes in many flavors, but if you are planning to use it to record an album, you may want to go for the 'Audiophile' version. This version contains recordings in CD quality. The cheaper versions comes with the instruments recorded in windows compressed format. For many purposes this is just fine and most people would not know the difference. My preference is however the CD quality recordings that comes with the audiophile version.
If you are a first time buyer, the audiophile version would cost you $669, but it is totally worth it. This program will be able to replace many of your session musicians, which over an album of 20 songs, would save you far in excess of $30,000 compared to the cost of session musicians.
The program is not completely a save-all for everything and might be limited if compared to what you can do yourself, but it does give you so many possibilities and options that you will almost certainly be able to find a use for it.
RealBand comes with a reasonable good drum track as well, but for the purpose of recording a concept album, I used some alternatives. The drum track is pretty good, but the main problem with RealBand is that it gives you a simple stereo file for the drums. For a serious recording in CD quality however, you can not do much with a stereo file. Very soon you will find your drums either overbearing the vocals, or disappearing somewhere into the mix. Professional studios will almost always record drums on a number of separate tracks, i.e. kick drum on one track, snare on another, hi hats on a third, toms on one or more extra tracks and cymbals on a separate track. This way, you have much more freedom with how you mix the sound of the final song. The other problem with the RealBand drum tracks is that you are stuck with their drum kit. Even though it is a fairly good drum kit they use, not all music wants to have a standard small rock kit playing. Sometimes you need that monster snare sound, or the power kick of Nickelback. We will talk a lot more about producng drum tracks in another article.
Lastly, I just want to end this post with congratulations to Protea Stage Productions for filling the house last night with their excellent production of the farce, Botoms up.