Thirty Grand a Song

A number of people have been writing in to my studio site asking me how much it costs to produce a commercial quality recording. It seems as though they don’t like my answer.

The Canadian Recording Industry Association publishes some interesting data points:

  • Canada is the 6th largest market per capita for sound recordings in the world
  • More than 45,000 Canadian jobs are directly and indirectly related to the music industry
  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2003 the recording industry and the other entertainment industries that are part of the arts, entertainment and recreation sector represented 6.1% of the Canadian GDP
  • The five major record companies invest over $50 million a year in Canadian artists and music
  • The average investment by the major companies in the production of a sound recording for release into the international market is in the range of $300,000 to $500,000

So, let’s think about that last point for a moment. The average investment for a commercial quality release is about $30,000 or more per song. I have seen independents go as low as $5,000 per song. And I have talked to some artists who are shocked that an all-in CD including pre-production, tracking, overdubs, edits, mixing, mastering, duplication, production and engineering would cost more than $5,000.

Our projects generally take hundreds of hours to produce a good quality recording. The standards are so high today that I can easily tell the difference between a well recorded project and a poorly recorded project. I suspect the same is true for most people.

A commercial quality release takes time, effort and money.

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