Any artistic endeavour can be hard to calculate in terms of the time it takes to deliver the goods. But if you’re booking a studio slot you’ll need to have an idea how you’re going to schedule this.
How long does it take a singer to record a song? Well, the answer is, it could a matter of minutes (if you’re a one-take wonder). Or it could take weeks if the song is incomplete when you begin recording and there are many backing musicians involved.
In this article, we’ll quantify the varying scenarios and help you to estimate how many hours or days you’ll need to allocate for laying down your track.
How long does it take a singer to record a song?
Once you have a great song you want to release, you must think about how it will translate into a recording. You have to break your song down into its composite parts. That means knowing exactly which instruments are playing when, where the vocals come in and out and how any harmonies, solos or double-tracking will be used to beef up the vocal parts. With a full understanding of what exactly you want to accomplish, you can then be more efficient in the studio. This process is key to understanding how long your song will take to record.
How long does it take to record a song?
You need to think about the specific following elements when it comes to adding up your studio time:
- How many vocal parts are there?
- Is it just a single vocal throughout the track?
- Is the music recorded? If it is, this will drastically reduce your studio time.
- If the music isn’t recorded, how many instruments do you need to record?
- For a standard band, what about the practicalities of drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and then, finally vocals. Each of these will add on some time.
There are also some additional time constraints to be considered when recording as a band. For example, you may need to lay down a guide track. This will be when you record as a group together and then split up to play each instrument separately. Depending on how well rehearsed you are, this can be quite time-consuming.
Is it hard to record a song?
Most recording sessions involve an 8 or 12 hour day. Unfortunately, while the day will be productive, you won’t be recording for every second of that time. There are loads of other crucial elements to accomplish during the session.
Getting the equipment set up is time-consuming. However, remember that concentrating on those exact details means that you get a recording that delivers the very best outcome for you as an artist.
It might seem like the engineer is taking a long time to get everything set up. But what they are doing is getting the perfect conditions for a great take. There all kinds of considerations that need to be addressed including the microphone choice, vocal booth acoustics, cabling, mixing desk settings, compression, effects and much more.
How long does it take to record a rap song?
Hip-hop songs are no different from any other songs in terms of recording. The main exception would be that you may already have an instrumental created by a producer.
Rappers who are recording vocals should expect similar times to a singer and could even nail it in a take. It could be quicker because there tend to be fewer harmonies but there are more words and more room for error. However, in such a creative environment it’s best not to put too much pressure on yourself, so a safe booking would be for several hours, up to half a day.
If you are starting your recording from scratch then you need to be realistic about the process because it can be extremely time-consuming. This is especially true if you need to record drums, sample other records and create your own sounds and software instruments. You could need anything from a whole day to a whole week so consult with the engineer beforehand.
Best practice would be to have a really solid demo to work from, even if it’s just a beat behind you. At least that way you can have your song structure organised and your vocal take rehearsed. Having these elements will save you hours of wasted time in the studio.
How long does it take to make a song?
Recording your song is only a part of the process. You’ll have spent time writing and practising before this. At some point your song has to be mixed, most artists will do this during their recording session. The final part of the recording process is mastering, which is the final preparation and makes your song viable for commercial use. If you make rap, hip-hop, grime or EDM music, the post-production stage will be very important. You’ll likely want more effects and overlays than say a pop ballad, although you may not need things like autotune.
The majority of artists go to a separate company to have their songs mastered. Usually, these are specialist companies whose sole purpose is to produce mastered songs. These can be easily found on the internet and your songs can be sent digitally to and from the company.
When you have had the tracks mastered, you then need to think about how you are going to release them and whether you want to pursue a record deal.
How many songs can you record in an hour?
Recording a song will ordinarily take an hour to a full day in a studio. It depends on what elements you want to record live. For example, is it just vocals or are there other instruments you want to record for your song. Your ability and how well you’ve rehearsed also determines how long it takes to record.
If you are a singer-songwriter and looking to record yourself and one other instrument, a guitar or piano, for instance, then half a day would be your absolute minimum with a more realistic and less pressurised time-slot being a whole day in the studio.
Again, you may want to record a guide track, then overlay separate vocal and instrument takes. After that, you may want to double-track the vocals and add harmonies and instrumental solos.
How many songs can you record in a day?
Adding harmonies and recording instruments can also take the better part of a day. There are plenty of other elements to consider, including adding fills and other intricate additions. Don’t forget, mixing and mastering is a whole other process that needs to be and planned for. You can’t expect a song to be recorded instantly so take a look at what else you need to consider.
If you are working at top speed, with only vocals to lay down, you can get up to four songs done in a whole-day studio session. You would be hard-pressed to get much more. At the bare minimum, you should expect to get at least one song completed in that time. If you are in a band, then you are looking at getting a whole song recorded and mixed per day.
How many takes to record a song?
Great singers are able to record their main vocals in a single take. This is because they are well-rehearsed, warmed up and have a lot of professional recording experience. It means that they are done in a matter of minutes, saving everyone time and money.
However, most engineers or producer will want you to record multiple takes, especially if you haven’t proven yourself. This will include the main vocal, a double track and any harmonies. You would be looking to spend a minimum of an hour recording and listening back.
How to record a song in a studio
Before you book your studio time, you’ll need to have an idea of how long you’ll need. Most studios work on an hourly and a day rate. You save a tiny bit of money booking a whole day over a set number of hours. Occasionally, depending on the studio, there are deals for booking multiple days.
The engineer/producer can ensure that everything runs smoother with a full list of your requirements before you begin recording. Each and every studio is different so they won’t all do things the same way. You have to trust their judgement and take their advice when you can.
Studio costs can range from £30 per hour all the way up to hundreds. If you are travelling larger distances, you may want to find a studio that has accommodation. However, this will add to your costs.
Opting to record an EP or album can, in the long run, also save you money in the recording studio. As long as you employ the same rigorous planning as you would for a single song, you can take advantage of the studio setup and get lots done quite quickly.
The other great advantage of recording a couple of songs together is that they will have consistent production values having been recorded using the same equipment. You may also find that as a result of an extended period with the engineer/producer, you may get more from them, having developed a better relationship.
How to record a song at home
Alternatively, you could set up a home studio but this will require a lot more money upfront. Overall, your decision should be based on getting the best you can possibly afford, as well as making sure the setup is equipped to deliver the kind of recording you desire. In any case, you’d be well advised to create an at-home demo before you record your song at a professional studio.
You can use your mobile phone, room microphone or dictaphone and then listen back to it. Use the recording to create a plan for your recording time. You can then make a much more accurate assumption about the time you will need to book in the studio. What’s more, when you contact the studio, you can reel off a list of elements you need to achieve. The engineer/producer can give you their professional opinion on what kind of time it is likely to take.
Recording your song at a studio is a key component of becoming an artist and forms a crucial part of the creative process. Before you get to this stage you should have already written the song, lyrics and arrangement. It is always recommended to play the song live on your own or as part of a band. Your considerations for choosing a studio should really centre on the type of music you want to record. When researching possible locations, you should find out who else has recorded there and what kind of sound they created.
- Can you record a song without permission?
Not unless it’s an original work, or it no longer falls under music copyright. This will be the case if it’s in the public domain because the author has been deceased for more than 70 years, or because the composer has released it for public use. If not, you’ll need to pay for a licence to cover it.
- How long does it take to record an album?
This can be anywhere from a week to months, depending on how prepared you are. If you plan to create some of the music while in the studio, as many big singer-songwriters do, it’ll take much longer. But you’ll need a budget to sustain this, which most emerging artists do not – so arrive ready.
- How long does it take to record an EP?
This is a cheaper option as an EP has fewer songs than an album. If you’re organised and ready to go with straightforward setup, this can be achieved in as little as a couple of days. Recording at home reduces travel time, but as you’ll be doing everything yourself, actually recording may take longer.
How long have you taken to record your songs? Did you do it at home or in the studio? Let us know about your experiences and future plans to lay down your tracks.