Making a Record

People ask me all the time what it’s like making a record. And after countless hours of searching high and low for analogies, I think I’ve finally stumbled on the best one.

Making a record is like building a car. The artist is the designer. It’s THEIR car. They’ve spent many months/years working up the ideas, putting it all together, until they’ve reached a point where they were ready to build it. The producer is the Head Engineer. It’s his job to take the ideas of the artist and pan them out, expand on them, make it into a product that is feasible, but still stays true to the artist’s intentions. The engineer is Mechanical Engineer, it’s his job to take the ideas of the producer and artist and make it into a real working product.

Once the ideas are in place, it’s time to build. You hit rehearsal halls, you make demos, you hit the studio. You put things together, you take it apart, you try things, you fail, you succeed, until ultimately, the car is built. Then comes the next step:

Mixing. It’s the most important thing in making a record. You have a great car, but now you have to grind and buff the edges, paint it, choose the interior. You going leather, you going vinyl? How about the cd changer? IPod ready? No matter how well built the car is, it’s not going to be bought if it’s just a giant pile of sheet metal. I’m not saying every car has to be polished and spit shined (give me a 49 Ford Coupe with a coat of flat black and no gloss any day), but every one still needs to be presentable.

Last but not least is the Mastering phase. Mastering is the coat of gloss. How shiny do you want it? You want a long lasting coat? It’s the final step before it’s time for manufacturing. When all stages are done correctly, you can’t beat that feeling. Sure, there are plenty of other cars out there, but now you have something that you’re proud of, something you want to sell, something that is competitive on the highway.

But for some reason we’ve forgotten that. We’ve lost that drive. We’ve lost that pride. Most artists would rather have a mediocre record that they must constantly apologize for than to have a something they want to promote for the rest of their lives. The trend has now gone to spending all the budget on Mastering rather than mixing. I haven’t figured this one out.

Why put a high gloss coat on an unpolished, unpainted car? It just doesn’t make sense.

Be proud of what you do! When we’re too old to go out and play our music live, our records will still live on! It’s our immortality! Quit making excuses. Make good records.

About adamjodor

I record. I produce. It's analog. I jump through stages with a Thunderbird (sometimes a P-Bass). I like good Thai food. I love Stacey.
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3 Responses to Making a Record

  1. Joel says:

    Right on buddy!!

  2. thomas dulin says:

    This is so great. I love the detail. I thought
    of a much more simplified analogy today when answering an email from a guy who wants to track his record at home and have me mix it.

    Making a record is like cooking a meal:

    Tracking is like shopping for ingredients. Assuming you know your recipe and what all you want to make (good pre-pro) choosing ingredients is easily the most important part (as the recipient of my email did not understand). The quality of your ingredients (recordings) will play a direct role in the quality of your meal regardless of your cooking ability.

    Mixing is like mixing. The actual cooking process. You’ve got all the parts laid out but you can’t serve them like that. You artistically and creatively find a way for everything to become one thing instead of several individual things. When you’re done cooking you can eat your meal. It should taste great the way it is, even though it’s not on a plate yet.

    Mastering is like preparing a plate. You make sure your meal is presented in the way it’s intended and in the correct portions (loudness). And you might even put a dash of seasoning on top just to brighten things up.

    I know there are millions of analogies like this everywhere but I still think they’re fun. Thanks
    for sharing one of yours!

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