April 2019 p.1
What is an album? What do you need to do it? What is its objective? What is its value?
Sadly, I’ve discovered that today’s users do not read a post with more than 150 words, so I’ll talk about this topic in more than one.
Eventually, we’ll talk about how the album concept mutates while moving through different moments of its process, for that reason, I’ll l begin with the ingredients to create one.
Ingredients to make a disc
The first half, which is the process of creating the album is usually connected with a lot of love, work, effort, time and money. A disc usually has coherent sound material in many levels, themes, aesthetics-style, timbres (instruments), a visual concept that shows unity (history has proven that this does not always happen).
The necessary materials are not only tools but also experts who work in the creation of material, as well as other experts who help to transform the ideas created into a whole. The people who create and help to make this happen are a composer (or several), an arranger and/ or a producer who is (or several) in charge of professionalizing songs, performers (singers, guitarists, bass guitarist, drummer, keyboards, string, woodwing, brass instruments, etc), the «artist» (who may have none or some of them, although they are usually singers), recording engineers, mix and master (in addition to the necessary locations to perform these tasks) and designer (s) to the cover and content of the album. With these elements, you can create an EP, LP or Album.
Breakdown (if you are a lazy reader and also do not want to go deeper into this topic, do not read the following paragraph):
There are many factors that vary in the process, I will mention those that nowadays (according to my experience) are completely necessary (exclusively to create the disc) underlined and those that do not in parentheses:
Producer and/or (Arranger); Nowadays, in this area, producers professionalize a song. In case of their knowledge of instrumentation reaches the limit, they usually have an expert arranger, but in general, they are capable not only of managing and arranging but also interpreting and mixing (among other things).
«Artist»: The artist is usually the one who manages the project and pays for it. In general, they are shown as singers in the project, however, sometimes they can be instrumental performers, or they can even be people with certain physical characteristics that make them attractive while others sing (there are evidences)
(Interpreters): It is known that the human factor who adds a real interpretation by an expert is invaluable, however, the VSTi technology in the DAW combined with the producer or arranger’s abilities not only to design and orchestrate but also interpret through MIDI controllers has become many interpreters «unnecessary».
(Recording Engineer) and Recording Studio or Home Studio: The use of a home studio depends on the aesthetics of the music or artist.
(Mixing Engineer): This is another section which many producers usually perform the engineer’s work, however, a person who is an expert in sound makes a tremendous difference in terms of the outcome.
(Mastering Engineer): As well as the mix engineer, it’s an area which many producers apply presets in the DAW, as well as some handle the master’s control very well digitally or even analogously. I must say that in my experience, composition, arrangements, interpretation, recording quality, mixing and master are all very important steps in the creation, in addition, if it’s possible to have an expert who can do it, it really makes the difference.
(Photography) and Design: Both professionals are very important (although there are albums
without photography). Discs are usually accompanied by visual material that is in agreement with the concept of the disc.
Once finished the master and the design, the album can be moved to another phase, where it becomes a Product. This changes everything, because we place it in the market, which has its own rules. I’ll go deeper into this topic in this post.
Let’s continue with the ingredients that are usually necessary to make the existence of an «official» record:
Ingredients for the Physical and Digital format
To make an audio cassette tape formats, vinyl, cd’s, dvd’s (there are dvd’s with just music and design) is required a multi-copy machine (which is usually a company). On the other hand, the digital material can be offered to transmit via streaming in differents digital media and also, downloads in digital stores like amazon, itunes, portaldisc, bandcamp, etc, which an account is required in a digital distributor as distrokid or cdbaby.
When the album becomes a product usually requires more design and photography. In spite of the fact that videographers, marketing, lawyers, manager and producer’s job (the producer can continue creating, managing and specifying), probably a booking agent, perhaps a record label and also, other people who are in charge to sell the product (it can be streaming, discs, download codes, qr codes, merchandising, concerts, etc.).
I was lucky to have many experiences recording and playing. In addition, all the information which has been written was not provided by universities or schools. Therefore, I hope that this post can be useful for those who are really interested on it.
Text and Photography: Danilo Dawson
To know about my work visit www.youtube.com/danilodawsonvideos