DIY – Pros
Money: It’s cheaper to buy the equipment and do it yourself. $1,500 will get you 2 or 3 days in a pro studio, or it will get you a decent home studio setup. More so, there’s very little pressure in doing a hundred takes in your bedroom, whereas a hundred takes in the studio may come to a sizable bill.
Whenever: In the DIY format you can get things down whenever the moment of inspiration strikes – and sometimes that can be a vital part of a successful project.
Personal Development: DIY time means growing as an artist within humble means. Performing for a record is different than performing live, and doing your own recordings means getting better at being recorded.
DIY – Cons
No Hindsight: One of the major advantages to hiring on a pro is that their hindsight would be your foresight. There are many chances to ruin a great song in the production process, and the DIY guy is likely to run head first into almost all of them.
Self-Contained: Mixing your own production is very much like chasing your own tail. It leads to constant doubt, always second guessing where things should be and how it should sound. This happens whenever two or more separate tasks are performed by the same person (generally).
It Still Ain’t Free: Good home studio equipment can be very costly, with a decent setup still ranging from $1500-$5000 for a start up.
While it’s true that some great DIY music has come out, I still find the best works come from a collaborative effort involving dedicated professionals. Ultimately, there can’t be any weak links in the chain – so being honest about your own strengths and weaknesses may be helpful.
A Pitfall of Pro:
Stretching your money too thin. I hear people all the time trying to get a full LP produced for under $3,000. While that can go a long way, ultimately the results will be middle of the road.
Better to concentrate limited funds into a shorter project. A couple of singles, excellently produced, will go further than a full length project stretched thin – though a full length project may feel more satisfying.
A Pitfall of DIY:
DIY means “Do It Yourself,” but a lot of people mistake that for “Do It Alone.” Even if it’s only your buddies next door, put together a team of sorts and hash out your ideas.
Matthew Weiss is the head engineer for Studio E, located in Philadelphia. Recent credits include Ronnie Spector, Uri Caine, Royce Da 5’9” and Philadelphia Slick.
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