Step 2 – Put your plans on paper

This part looks at the production schedule / calendar / budget.

Production schedule / calendar

No matter how very on-the-fly an artist you may be, yes, you do need deadlines. A goal is a dream with a deadline. So if your goal is to come up with a finished product, you will need to plot some milestones, and constantly monitor the project along the way.

The secret is to work backwards. Backwards from what? Backwards from the date you want to be holding your baby in your hands.

How will the production schedule look? Writing out the general phases of production, backwards, might look like this:

ARTIST: _____________

PROJECT TITLE: _____________

ALBUM PRODUCTION SCHEDULE

RELEASE DATE: _____________

  • 1 week before: CD manufacturer delivers CD units
  • 4 weeks before: Album design approved
    CD replication
  • 5 weeks before: CD master (audio) approved
    CD master and artwork files to be given to manufacturer
  • 6 weeks before: Approval of song mixes
    CD mastering
  • 7 weeks before: Check on all text and artwork for any revisions
  • 8 weeks before: Mixing
  • 10 weeks before: Album design concept
  • 15 weeks before: Recording of songs
  • 16+ weeks before:
    Rehearsals (vocals and instrumentals)
    Arranging of songs
    Songwriting / Choosing of songs
  • Production calendar and highlights will depend on how much time is needed till the release date. You can try to see if the project is workable, time-wise, by making a calendar of this kind. Make generous leeway for contingency at every stage.
  • You can have a more detailed calendar separate from this one, which can focus on scheduling per song.

For the producer

The producer must keep a complete and updated calendar and time line. He should be responsible for scheduling the musicians and time in the studio. A schedule that is well-organized will help sessions run smoothly. This will make everyone know what is expected of him or her. Scheduling will include knowing which songs and which instruments to record first. It should also contain a lot of slack in terms of time.

Budget

Ah yes, the money part. This will tell you the cost of your project, and hopefully remind you to check your coffers of gold if you are ready to fund the album of your dreams.

Begin by writing out all your projected expenses, down to the last detail. What could they be?

  • Rehearsal space during song rehearsals
  • Producer
  • Assistant Producer
  • Arranger
  • Production Coordinator/Assistant (for scheduling, administrative assistance)
  • Recording studio time (for recording and mixing)
  • Recording engineer fees, if not included with the studio fee
  • Session musicians (extra vocal or instrumental help for recording)
  • Gear rental
  • Mastering fee
  • Hard Disk Storage, CDs
  • Graphic Artist
  • Food
  • Transportation (where applicable)
  • CD manufacturing and delivery
  • Office supplies (e.g. paper, photocopying of lyrics, etc)
  • Miscellaneous
  • Royalty payments, as needed (for cover songs used)

You can write out a different or more detailed list of expenses that suits your needs. Recording budgets should be itemized. To make the budget complete, there should be a schedule of all recording, editing and mixing times. From here, there can be an estimated costing and adjustments can be made as necessary. If you plan to project expenses even after the album has been produced, you can include things like Marketing and Promotions, Distribution, etc. As much as possible, try to go through your pre-production phase where you don’t need to pay studio rates.

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