So, You Want to Produce Your Own Records?

Here’s a podcast interview where I share how and why I record at home!

Jungle Gym Jam recording the kids' vocal parts for the song Pandagarten. One really cool thing about making music for families is that every now and then we come across young musicians learning their instrument and full of passion for the sounds they are starting to create. Often, they’re big siblings of our most frequent audience of preschool-aged kids. We also cross paths with lots of great kids-and-family musicians who are on a similar journey to Amy’s and mine.

We’re all experiencing rapid, sweeping changes to the way recorded music is shared with the world. Kids learning to make music are growing up never having needed a physical CD, possibly having operated a turntable simply for the richness of the experience, not for the necessity of that being the only way to hear recorded music. Most of us walk around with access to a library of millions of songs in our pockets.

Those of us who have been making records for a while have noticed that the public can enjoy our music in complete album form without having to own a physical product or even a download. While there’s a contingent who will buy our CD’s as souvenirs of a show they loved, they can listen to our recorded music at will without doing so.

Jason from the Jungle Gym Jam mixing a finished recording in his home studioMy desire to continue making and sharing fully-realized recordings of our songs has not been diminished by the changes to the recorded music market. But I can’t continue to hire producers and rent studios for $10K+ knowing that I won’t make back even 10% of that. So what does an indie artist do?

I turned to the example set by my friend John Cullimore from the excellent kindie band Chibi Kodama for my answer. John is a highly prolific self-producer, often cranking out multiple albums in a single calendar year. All his music is a heartfelt expression from his whole family and a true representation of the sounds he hears in his head, fully realized for the world to enjoy. And he does it all at home and on the road!

When I started to seek out how I could create high quality self-produced music with the experience I gained working with producers and John’s moral support, I stumbled upon AudioSkills.com, a home self-production resource founded and run by Scott Hawksworth. I started by reading his articles, which had given me some common-sense advice that I found earth shattering in its simplicity and ability to immediately improve what I was doing with my home recording gear.

I had recorded tracks for the single “Pandagarten” and really wanted to do a great job mixing these tracks into a radio-ready finished product. So I ordered Scott’s AudioSkills crash course DVDs. I watched the entire 2-disc set before embarking on the mix. Everything I learned helped me translate the music I imagined into something families could listen to.

To help tell my story of how I keep the music flowing in a changing market for recorded music, I recently appeared on Scott’s AudioSkills Podcast for an interview. I hope it inspires you or an emerging musician in your life.

Here’s our first self-produced single (as a picture video) called “Pandagarten” to give you an example of the results I achieved with Scott’s course.

In this new market for recorded music, we’ve drastically cut our costs to bring this music to you by recording at home. We’re also able to steadily release music – a single each month, leading to the release of an album next year. We’d like to sustain the pattern of a single each month. If our recordings enrich your family life, we’d love your support on our Patreon page, where you can subscribe and be the first to receive our new monthly singles – before the public gets them.

How are you or your family members engaging the do-it-yourself spirit to bring your creativity to life? Use the comments below to get the conversation going.

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