How to Record an Acappella CD

Following up on my popular posts on acappella auditions (parts one and two) and touring, producing an acappella CD is yet another vital part to the college acappella experience. I am currently producing a CD as part of the Middlebury Mountain Ayres. We’re recording Jan. 7th but here are some of my preliminary findings:

  • Ask yourself: Is now the right time to record a CD? Do we have enough tracks to record? Do we sound good? Do we have any members of the groups that will be graduating soon? Who will buy this CD? Do we have enough to money to record right now? How much debt, if any, will we incur?
  • Do your research. What have other acappella groups on campus done with their CDs? Did they record on campus or off-campus? Did they take out a loan?
  • Start planning early, up to four months in advance. Scout out a recording studio or recording company/individual. Get quotes for how much it costs to record. Do not enter into any contracts (verbal or written) yet.
  • Build up a surplus of funds from admission charges to concerts, t-shirt sales, bake-sales, etc. Make a budget in an excel spreadsheet. Figure out approximately how much it will cost to record, produce, and distribute the CD as well as how many CDs at what price you will need to sell in order to cover your costs.
  • Explore ways to take out no-interest loans. The school may have several ways to take out loans with no interest. It’s better than convincing any bank to finance you…
  • Involve your group in the decision making process. This could be a bit controversial since it often makes it easier to put the power in the hands of one person. But keeping your fellow singers informed and engaged is important to making sure they feel invested in recording.
  • Take time to figure out the nitty gritty: where are you recording? how many hours in studio do you need? how many sessions? does recording fit your singers’ schedules? will your voices get tired? do you have enough breaks? do you have a schedule? how will you get to your recording studio?
  • Set list: Have a well thought out set list. But don’t fret about set order until after the recording.
  • Try not to repeat songs that other acappella groups on campus have already recorded.
  • Recording classical acappella is not the same as recording pop or rock acappella. Determine how much post-production you want. Some groups use a lot of special effects to spice up the CD. Others are purists…

One thought on “How to Record an Acappella CD”

  1. Hi Ryan Kellett! So is the Ayres’ cd still on? Or has your delinquency (I dont think I spelled that correctly) caused you to postpone your endeavors until a more lucrative point in time? : )

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