Friday, April 29, 2016

Joe Omundson

music budget

Some people might not think they have enough money to create and record an album. It’s understandable to feel that way because it’s expensive to buy nice gear, record in a professional studio, pay someone else to master the album, etc. But if you are careful and thrifty, and if you don’t require the absolute best sound quality, you can do it yourself for pretty cheap. Here is a run down of how I was able to record my album on a budget.

Drums: I bought a DW drum set for $200 from a friend, used PDP double-kick pedals for $50, and spent maybe $20 on some products to reduce overtones on the snare and toms. (I never played drums before recording this album.)

Bass: I used a cheap Ibanez bass that I got as a gift when I was 15. I paid $100 for the Fender amp a number of years ago. I used an MXR distortion pedal which I got for $50. I didn’t bother to replace the strings or anything like that. I didn’t use a guitar for this album, only bass.

Electronic: I only used free samples that I found online, and ones that came with my DAW. I was able to get some useful software for free.

Recording: I borrowed a 6-channel audio interface from the manager of the studio. I bought used entry-level CAD drum mics for $130 (including mic cables), and used them to record drums, bass, and vocals. The ambient samples (thunder, footsteps, birds, creeks, fire, rain, etc.) were all recorded using a handheld Roland digital recorder while I was hiking the PCT and I paid probably $200-$250 for that unit. The rain at the end of the 3rd track was recorded from inside my car. I paid probably $80 for mic stands and about $50 more for various connectors, cables, and the like.

Mixing and mastering: I used a pair of Polk speakers which I got at Goodwill for $20, and powered them with an old JVC receiver that I got at the same place for $15. I got lucky with the speakers because they sound great in my opinion and have a fairly flat frequency response. It took a few tries to find a pair that sounded decent, so the actual cost was maybe a bit more; but if you are diligent about returning for store credit when an item doesn’t work out, you’re not really out anything.

Lifestyle: I saved money by sleeping in my car for 7 months while I worked on this project. Fortunately that is my preferred lifestyle anyway. The rehearsal space was used not only for writing and recording music, but as a “home base” where I could use a bathroom reliably and store some of my possessions. It cost $240/month to rent. I found an excellent street to park my car and I slept just a couple blocks away from the studio most nights. My artist photo shows my car and the entrance to the building where I rented my room.

So my music budget over 7 months was about $1680 for the room, plus $940 for gear. I might be forgetting some things but it comes in comfortably under $3000 (more like $2300 if you don’t count the gear I already owned). Not having a kitchen meant I was eating out a lot, so food was actually my biggest expense over that period, costing me probably $10-15/day, so maybe in the range of $2000-$3000.

Overall, I spent roughly $5000 to live for 7 months and record this album. After learning what I did from this attempt, I believe next time I could do the same amount of work in about 2 months, or I could spend half a year and create something more masterful.

My advice is that if you want to try something, just go for it. I learned something about every step of the creative process, and though my first release was definitely amateur level work, next time I will know how to fit more self-expression into all the stages of music creation.

Joe Omundson

About Joe Omundson -

Joe Omundson is working to piece together a cohesive philosophy of lifestyle, spirituality, society, and the natural world.

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