Pros and Cons of Recording Yourself

If you’re anything like me you beam with pride when you tell somebody “I’m a musician!” Some people may mistake your sentiment for arrogance, but let’s be honest, playing an instrument is frackin cool. (Just like that sweet Battlestar reference right there.) Almost every producer I know started out playing in a band and recording their own music – including yours truly. The experience of playing the role of artist, producer, engineer and mixer gave me a unique perspective that was both awesome and horrible – and if you’ve ever done the same, I’m sure you’re nodding in agreement.

Let’s go over some Pros and Cons of recording yourself.

Pro:
You get to do things your own way.

There’s nothing better than having the final say on every aspect of the music. You can write the melodies, the lyrics, hell even the bass lines. Anything goes when you’re in charge. You want to write an 8 minute song? Do it. No one is going to stop you. You’re the only person you have to answer to, and hot damn that’s an empowering feeling.

Con:
You get to do things your own way.

It’s amazing to have such control over your music, but sometimes a little outside perspective can go a long way. Having someone there to reel you in when you’re going over the top may be exactly what you need. Some grandiose ideas may sound great in your head, but if you’re in a room with 10 other musicians and you’re the only one who’s digging a particular idea – you’d better rethink your strategy. If you’re writing the music purely for your own enjoyment, you may be the only one to ever listen to the record.

Pro:
You have all the time in the world to get it right.

You don’t have to worry about about an engineer milking the clock to make a few extra bucks. You don’t even have to worry about punching in to nail that guitar solo you were hoping to rock in one full take. If it takes you 5 hours, it takes you 5 hours. Time is of no importance when you’re working solo.

Con:
You have all the time in the world to get it right.

This may be your downfall. Sure you’re aiming for perfection, but having too intense of a focus can lead to obsession. Maybe you spend 5 hours trying to nail that solo and you still aren’t amped about it. So you try again in the morning, only to realize you hate the part and want to rewrite it. Now, a project that should’ve taken a week will last a month – 6 months – or maybe even a year – if it even gets finished.

Pro:
The songs and mixes are all yours.

It’s very impressive that you were able to play everything and mix it all yourself. This isn’t an easy feat to accomplish after all, and it absolutely takes a ton of talent. Show your parents, show your friends, and share it anywhere you can. You did this, and you should be proud.

Con:
The songs and mixes are all yours.

There are a lot of talented people out there, and everyone should know what their strengths are. Some people are amazing at guitar, while others are wizards at mixing. If one persons talent lies strictly in vocals, they’d be better off letting someone mix their record who has just as much talent at mixing as they do at singing. Splitting the load with other talented people can really help the overall quality of the final product.

Pro:
You will notice every nuance.

This means every time you hear yourself sing a flat note, it’s going to stick out like a soar thumb. The benefit of this is that now you know what areas need some personal improvement. If your drumming sounds sloppy, you know you need more practice with that metronome. This will help make you a better overall musician, I guarantee it.

Con:
You will notice every nuance.

Not just while you’re playing, but long after all the mixing is done. So if you really didn’t like those guitar tones, and you’ve already released your record, guess what. You’re stuck with them. They will haunt you forever. You wanted to add a little more reverb on that bridge? Again, it will haunt you. Forever.

Try to keep some of these pros and cons in mind while you’re tracking your own material. There will always be give and take, so I hope you take something from all this. What are some of the positives and negatives you’ve experienced from tracking your own record? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading.

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