Have you ever wanted to record your church’s worship team, choir, or worship leader? As a songwriter myself, I’ve been recording my own and others’ music for over three decades, so I’ve seen lots of changes through the years. Here are some guidelines you may want to consider:
- Know the reason for the project. Remember the verse “Without a vision, the people perish/cast off restraint” (Proverbs 29:18)? Don’t just record a project because you want to or can; do it because you SHOULD do it.
- Choose your material wisely. If you only have 5 or 6 great songs, just record them as an EP. Don’t add “filler” songs. If they need re-writing, don’t be proud and act as if they’re equal to scripture; the best songs are usually the result of 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
- Make sure you plan the project well. If you’re going to try to pull off a live recording, it takes much more preparation than you might think. A live worship project Is best done when you’ve “road tested” your songs. Trying to fake the congregation singing to keep it real is difficult at best. If the church knows the songs, then it makes a difference in the authenticity of the finished recording.
- Budgeting – say it ain’t so! Most of us musical types don’t typically lean toward number crunching, but it’s quite necessary if you don’t want to get fired for spending too much. Do your research and do the math. Decide if a live or studio project makes more sense for the cents.
- Decide who will play and sing on the project. This is perhaps the most divisive and potentially dangerous component of the process. If you’re doing a “church” project, make sure you consider all of the ramifications. If you’re not going to release the project beyond your immediate church family and friends, this is not quite as difficult as if you want to have a broader reach. If wider distribution is desired, then it’s important to make sure your singers and players are the best you can get. It might mean you’ll need to spend some money to compensate them for the added value they’ll bring.
- Get your arrangements down cold. This is particularly true if you’re doing a live project, but also true if you’re in the studio. It’s always been my practice to rehearse more than you think you need to, then RECORD THE DRESS REHEARSAL! Sometimes it’s the best take because the pressure isn’t on.
- Have the right space, the right gear and the right people.The mechanics of recording have improved greatly and become more simple and affordable in the last 20 years, but there are some things that never change. Here are a few points to remember:
- Is your room conducive for a live recording? If not, consider improving the acoustics before you push the “record” button.
- Do you have the equipment to do it right? If not, rent, borrow, or buy what you need. Remember, like everything, if it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill…
- Do you have qualified personnel to engineer the recording? You’ve heard the adage “a defendant who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer.” This is not far off the mark when it comes to recording. No matter how good your house engineer is, he or she might not be adept at mixing a recording project. If he or she is, then you’re truly blessed. If not, which is the more likely case, you’d be wise to consider paying a skilled mix engineer to take your project to the next level. Then, if you can afford to have a pro mastering engineer do the final master, you’ll get the best result.
- Church Audio Video can help. If you need specific guidance, equipment recommendations, advice on recording techniques, or any other assistance, contact us – we’re happy to help.
Jeff has just released a 30-years-in-the-making Christmas recording with 12 original songs entitled Worship The King. The project was recorded in his 1,200 sq ft studio and remotely in Indiana and Arkansas. It features 9 musicians, 7 lead vocalists, a voiceover artist, and more than 20 adult background and children vocalists. It is available at www.flametender.com on CD and mp3 downloads. Choir arrangements, lead sheets and chord charts are also available.
Photo courtesy of Eastern Heights Church.