..:: Articles

Recording Tips for Christian Artists

The Song Recording Process
You like to sing and/or you like to write, and you want to make a recording. Itís a good idea to ask yourself some questions before you begin. The answers to these questions will determine how much money you need to spend and how much time you should commit to the process.

Do you want a simple recording for family and friends?
In this case, try to find someone who can make a simple recording with a microphone and computer. Record the instruments first, then the vocal(s). Hopefully, they can tweak on the tracks to make the volumes sound even. Then, you can make copies of the cds on your computer. Unfortunately, you would probably not be pleased with making a recording using a tape recorder. It just sounds really bad. Itís okay for your own purposes (You donít want to forget the song!) or for a practice session, etc.

Do you want a good demo to pitch your song to a publisher?
No matter what people may say (including publishers), the better the demo, the better chance you have of getting a song cut (recorded or printed). Of course, you donít want to ďoverproduceĒ the demo. The artists and the publishers want something that they can craft to their own liking. Try to stay in the middle of the road stylistically or make different demos of the same song (one, country; one, pop, etc.) This works well if you are pitching to a particular artist. Record your demo with a good mic, a decent vocalist and good musicians. Make sure the lyrics are understandable. Do not put more than three songs on a demo.

Do you want to sing in various venues and sell your cds?
Well, if you want to do this, you will want to put some money and effort into the venture. It is possible to make a low budget cd, but, in the long run, you will probably not be happy with it. If you spend only $5000. or less, you may feel like trashing the project within three years. Generally, most duplicators do not want to make less than 1000 copies so thatís how many youíll have to sell. A lot depends on the person doing the producing and engineering. They may be great.

Jeff recorded his project in 1987, and it still sounds good! That kind of longevity is what you get if you spend about $15,000. to $20,000. If you are able to sell about 1350 cds, you will have recouped your money. How quickly you are able to do this depends on the number of concerts that you perform, the attractiveness of your product and the size of your audience. Okay, I know the artistic types just glazed over. Let your Dad or someone technical read that part of the paragraph. The size of the crowd can be misleading. Sometimes, everyone there buys one or two cds; sometimes, due to a variety of factors, you sell, three, total. It mostly depends on how much they enjoyed your performance and your music.

An added benefit to making a good recording is the ability to create tracks that you can use in concert. If you play an instrument, you can still play along. Itís nice to have professional string players and guitarists in your pocket. Some artists detest the idea of using tracks, but there are times when itís necessary. In some venues, they donít have the sound system components to mic or instruments to play. And it comes in handy when you discover that the ďprofessionalĒ musicians that were supposed to back you up just picked up their instruments a few days ago. You could skip the vocal recording all together and just have tracks made.

What is a producer?
There are various opinions about the duties of a producer, so ask questions before you hire someone. Generally, the producer helps the artist choose which songs to include on the recording, books the studio and musicians, then oversees the recording and mixing sessions. Sometimes, they may even stay involved in the cd jacket design and the duplication and distribution of cds. If they are an audio engineer, they may engineer the recording sessions and mix the tracks themselves.

At this point, a warning is in order. There are many unscrupulous producers, even those who proclaim to be Christians. We have known of several people who gave a producer thousands of dollars up front and received nothing in return. Please be careful. Check references, and donít pay alot of the budget up front.

In Chipís case, because of his skills as a songwriter and musician, he often helps artists tweak on their songs and does a lot of arranging. He suggests instruments to be recorded for certain songs and the stylistic direction. He also plays the keyboard or piano for the recording if needed. Chip oversees the entire recording and mixing process and sometimes engineers. He coaches the vocalists with diction, pitch, vibe and other creative aspects of sound. He suggests parts and licks for the instrumentalists. He helps the artist to find companies to do their cd duplication and generally encourages the artist in their endeavor.

What is the recording process?
First, the songs are chosen. Then, the instrumental tracks are laid down (keyboard, piano, drums, guitars, bass). Next, the lead vocal is recorded. After the lead vocal, overdubs are recorded. These include background vocals and instruments such as saxophone, cello, violin, flutes, etc. With all these different tracks and sounds, it is really necessary to mix the recording. Mixing involves setting the levels at the proper volume or eq and adding effects. You want the instruments to compliment the vocals and not overshadow them. Most people add some reverberation to the recording. You can be in a closet, a cathedral or a living room depending on the type of reverb. There are other fancy effects which you hear on the radio every day. Thatís why a live concert rarely sounds like the cd.

After the mixing, another valuable phase is mastering. Mastering involves fine tuning some of the sounds and tracks so that they will have a richness in a certain medium. For instance, there are different settings for radio play, cds and cassettes. Mastering gives the recording a full, professional sound. Itís well worth the money, because the process is not that expensive. Next, youíll need a graphic designer who will design the jacket and inserts. They will send the files to the duplicator, who will hire a printer to print the inserts. Then, they will duplicate the cds, put it all together and shrink wrap the things. After that, itís up to you to find a place to store all the boxes and try to get someone to buy the cds!
Songwriting Tips
Some songs are for a general audience, some songs are for close family and friends, some songs are commercial and some songs are for your dog. Determine the purpose of the song and develop it accordingly.

If you feel that your song is good enough for publication, here are some things you need to know. Publishers and the general public look for certain elements in a song. You need to learn the rules for songwriting. Itís okay to color outside the lines, but as one dancer has said, ďLearn the rules, then break the rules.Ē Practice writing formula songs first, then, you can break out and exercise your creativity in appealing ways.

Every song needs some kind of logical structure, especially if itís to be sung by a congregation, choir or group of people. Solo songs can be more loose in structure. Generally, there will be a verse or verses, a chorus and maybe a bridge. The verses should be very similar in length and the corresponding lines should be very similar in meter (number of syllables or beats).

The verse usually poses a problem or sets up a situation. The chorus answers the problem or brings a culmination to the situation. The chorus should sound like the climax of the song in meaning and music.

One of the most common errors in writing a song is touching on too many subjects. There should be one main thought expressed. If you have more, just create other songs with those ideas and simplify.

The thought in the song should be universal or common to human experience. Try to touch an emotion. Listeners are always drawn to emotion in a song.

A good hook (catchy phrase) in the song keeps the listenerís attention. The hook can be melodic or lyrical, and it should repeat in the song. This is the part that you come away humming.

In general, you have less than 20 seconds to draw the listener into your song. The first line is very crucial. At publishing companies, they only listen to the first 20 seconds (if that), so you have to say something appealing right away.

If you are trying to pitch a song to a publisher, here are some tips. Send your demo to a contact in the industry. Unsolicited songs rarely get a listen. Find out which artist is looking for songs and send a demo to their management. Donít hold your breath! In the songwriting field, you have to develop a thick skin.

There are many other rules and common practices in songwriting; such as, choosing a good title, marrying the lyrics and the music, using melody to create a visual of the lyric, etc.
Worship Leading Tips
Our favorite illustration for worship leading is an analogy shared by Gerrit Gustafson. Gerrit is an excellent teacher, one of the founding members of Integrity Music. A worship leader should be like a butler. The butler does not draw attention to himself. He greets the guests, possibly gives them some instructions, then leads them to his master. Once they are in the masterís presence, he quietly slips away. A good worship leader does not have to cajole the congregation to worship. A good worship leader should inspire the congregation to worship.

Most of the time, it seems that an upbeat song is the best way to start worship. This gives people the cue to take their seats and begin to focus on the Lord. After the first song, a leader may want to read a Scripture which exalts the Lord and say a prayer. This helps everyone to bring their mind into a state of worship and turn away from distractions.

Musical skill is very important to a worship leader. Your skill needs to be at a level where you are able to concentrate on the Lord, listen to His leading and cue your worship team while you play and/or sing. It really helps the flow of worship if your playing is seamless without a lot of stops and starts. Of course, there may be times for silence in worship. The American church is not very comfortable with times of silence, but the Lord may lead you there. It takes hours of practice to be proficient on your instrument, but the Lord deserves an excellent offering, and you will be more comfortable leading when you have sufficient skills.

Those who sing on the worship team or play for worship need to know that they are setting an example for worship. At times, we have seen worship teams that look bored, apathetic, anxious or distracted. The congregation will follow suit. The worship leaders are lead worshippers, and they should all be fully engaged in their exaltation of the Lord. Oftentimes, the worship team just doesnít know the songs well enough to feel relaxed. Be sure to rehearse sufficiently so that all can enter in.

..:: News & Events
New Comp disk Released July 1 2010
Terajay Music Group is proud to announce the release of their first comp disk of 2010... It has been a long time coming but is well worth the wait... this disk has a great variety of music from "country gospel","christian country", and "Positive country" music..
Including releases from Deryl Dodd, Gene Watson, Cross Country, and new-comers Hunter Erwin and Marlon Sharp just to name a few..plus much more.

If you are a broadcaster and would like a copy of this disk for bradcast purposes, please e-mail us at [email protected]
Hunter Erwin releases new album with Terajay
Louisiana's very own Christian Country Cowboy has released a new project under the Terajay Music label entitled "Back to You"... Produced by Terajay's own Chip Bricker, this is a top-40 country sounding project that has the home-spun country vocal attitude that Hunter is known for.. this album is a must have for pure christian country fans..

You can order the album by calling Terajay @ (903)-223-6671... or u can download the project from the following website www.cdbaby.com/cd/HunterErwin

Listen for Hunter's new single "Back to You", at radio now..


Marlon Sharp has new album that every man needs to hear
Marlon Sharp is one of those artists that writes, sings and plays guitar equally as well... and he does it all with believable class and understanding on his new album "That's Where I Stand"..

In this album he explains where he came from, where he is, and where he is going..as well as describing some of life's issues that he has encountered along the way..

The new album has a Traditional Country flair with a top-40 quality that shows off all of Marlon's talents and let's you know right where he stands..

To order Marlon Sharp's "That's Where I Stand", call the Terajay distribution office at (903)-223-6671 or log onto www.cdbaby.com/cd/marlonsharp for a digital download..

Listen for Marlon's new single, already getting played in over 100 markets, entitled "Cowboy Church"..
..:: Information
Recording Tips for Christian Artists
You like to sing and/or you like to write, and you want to make a recording. It's a good idea to ask yourself some questions before you begin. The answers to these questions will determine how much money you need to spend and how much time you should commit to the process. Read more...
..:: Contact TerajayMusic.com
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