Music Terminology - Creating An Album
People sometimes wonder why bands don't just do everything on their own to get their music
to the fans. Why bother using a record company and other people at all if it means less
money in your pocket? Well, a decent amount of money is needed upfront to get an album
made and many underground bands are broke and have empty pockets to start with. Or you
stick a musician in front of a hundred track mixing board and they're as lost as a vegan
at Ted Nugent's Annual Wild Game Bar-B-Que. The band you love could have dozens of people
behind them assisting in the final product, so here's a short list of what it can take to
create a great-sounding record.
The Band - Any number of individuals from one musician to a large group
of musicians who write and/ or play music.
Record Label - A company who releases the Artists product
(manufacturers and formats into CD, DVD, Cassette, Vinyl, Videotape, Box Sets, etc.). In
most cases they pay for the studio time (recording), distributing, marketing, advertising,
artwork, photography, and copyrighting. The company's main goal is to release the product
to distributors (nationwide/worldwide) and online stores. They work hand in hand with the
band's management to get the best possible exposure for the group and profit from the
Studio - A room or series of rooms where music is recorded (or tracked),
mixed and mastered. A studio usually consists of a control room with recording equipment
where the engineer actually tracks the sound, and a soundproof room (or rooms) where the
artist/musicians play. Can cost thousands of dollars per hour!
Mixing Board - Also called a sound board, mixer, or mixing console. This
is the main electronic equipment with all the knobs and sliders that manages all of the
sound inputs and puts them together into an audio output. They can have from 4 tracks to
hundreds. Each channel has some form of amplification/equalization or controls to adjust
the tonal quality of the sound and some way to add effects.
Producer - Responsible for all production including tracking, mixing,
equalization, editing, song (track) selection/order, etc. Generally oversees everything
involved in a project from beginning to end with a goal to produce the highest quality
sound possible with the most marketability.
Conductor - If an orchestra is used a Conductor would get all the members
in order. They're the ones that wave the stick around.
Arranger - Not really a "job", but may be credited. May play a
part in the layout of the song to make it flow better or assisting in the overall
structure of the song--extending a riff in places, shortening a part or two, adding
Engineer - Responsible only for recording (tracking) the artist/ band in
the recording studio. Works directly with the electronic setup of the studio board.
Art Director/Designer - Responsible for designing layout for the CD
cover, insert booklet, CD surface design, DVD package, etc.
Mixing - The process of adjusting sound levels, equalizations and
effects/effect levels on all of the recorded tracks of a song (vocals, guitar, bass,
drums, keyboards, etc) to create the best possible sound for each song.
Mastering - The process of adjusting the overall sound levels,
equalization, and effects of all of the mixed songs so that they all sound uniform and
create continuity on a CD.
Master Recording - The finished product (mixed and mastered) that is used
for duplication and distribution.
Press Plant - Factory where master recordings are used to stamp out the
finished music products that ship to distributors or stores. A fee has to be paid to the
plant owners to have this done. Thousands of blank media material isn't free.
Distributor - The middle-man company who distributes the
product from the record label to chains like WalMart, Best Buy, Sam Goody, etc. as well as
other independent stores. The distributor is basically the liaison between the record
label and a retailer. The larger distributors like Caroline and RED work hand in hand with
labels and retailers to create advertising and promotion for distributing the album.
Retailer - Carries the product and sells it directly to the
consumer--WalMart, Best Buy, Target...
Band Management - Acts as the liaison between the band and the record
label, booking agent, the press, etc. to represent the band and their interests.
Booking Agent or Booker - Responsible for booking gigs for the
artist/band at various clubs and venues. The Booking Agent also creates/arranges for
package tours and works with the tour manager to make sure the band is being properly
equipped and treated fairly by the venue.
Other Maximum Metal Columns
<< back >>