Whether it is for local concert promotions, touring overseas, or just posting on your website, a well-constructed press kit can be an invaluable tool for raising the profile of your ensemble. In the new eBook “Creating the Perfect Press Kit for Your Ensemble,” we discuss how to prepare recordings for your press kit.
Recording at a Studio
Recording studios cost money so it’s important to have a good look at your budget and leave plenty of time to plan. Prior to going to the studio, there are a few things to plan ahead of time:
Research. Research the recording studio’s staff biographies to guage their experience level. Inquire about the cost per use of studio and staff time. Confirm that the studio has the capacity to hold your specific ensemble – will it fit 30 musicians? 50? 100? Do you need to bring auxiliary percussion?
Make some decisions.
- How many pieces will you record?
- How many separate parts will you need to record? Soloists? All together?
- What are your priorities and goals?
- How long will you need in the studio to complete your goals?
Discuss your goals with the studio. Together, plan the recording schedule and agree on costs. Once you have a schedule date, rehearse your ensemble members following the same time guidelines as you have set aside for the professional recording. Inform them of the time limits, the recording plan and the goals.
Recording on a Low-Budget:
We would all love professional recordings for our press kits, but realistically, most of us do not have the budget or time for them. Here are two quick ways to easily obtain a recording:
Record during a performance. What better time to record your ensemble than during a performance? If your ensemble has a regular performance space, assess if there is already a sound booth and technician that you could utilize for your next concert. If you do not have a performance space yet, try to locate one that already has a sound system in place that you have the ability to use.
Be aware that a sound technician may charge a fee to work on your recording. If you do not have friends or colleagues that can effectively run a sound booth for free for you, then hiring a technician is a small price to pay to make your recording the best it can be. While it will still not be the quality of an actual recording session track, the technician can still help fix some of the levels along the way and make sure that you don’t have any major problems in your recording.
Snag a competition recording. For youth ensembles, All-State competitions may provide you with the option to receive a recording of the competition performance. Make use of these recordings and keep an online library of them as part of your press kit, website and other social media channels. Double-check that you have the appropriate permissions to post.
Editing the Audio Recording:
There are easy editing tricks that enhance the way the recording is structured. The first step is to install an audio editing program such as Audacity which is free and easy to use. Once you have the program in place and have reviewed the controls, try these simple edits:
- Cut out any speaking. Give about 2 seconds before the first note is played/sung and 2 seconds after the last note. Anything before or after the song should be cut out in the editor.
- Adjust the volume. If you find that the recording is too loud or too quiet, you should be able to change the amplification in your editor. Check that this doesn’t distort the quality of sound too much.
- Separate your tracks. If you have a full hour performance track, separate each piece into its own track. Keep in mind, that people have limited time and want to be able to easily search and listen for your best pieces.
- Segregate or highlight your good moments. If you really like a piece that was played but there is one part that you didn’t enjoy, then take a sample clipping of the best part. For demo purposes, it is perfectly acceptable to fade in and out of the recording without providing the entirety of the piece. Most importantly, use your best judgment. You are a musician and you know what sounds good. Trust your instincts and choose the recordings that highlight your ensemble.
Sending Your Recordings:
Post your videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud or other audio/video sharing platforms and link to these in your press kit. Title each piece with the name of the piece, composer, ensemble, and date of recording. Be sure to email or share the original files. If the file is too large to email, use a file sharing program such as Dropbox to share your video. Don’t forget to list any professional recordings in your press kit!
Video Recording Don’ts:
- Avoid using smartphones. When possible, hire a semi-professional/professional sound technician or videographer to record your performances.
- If absolutely necessary to use a smartphone, turn the phone landscape.
- Never hold the camera during a recording. Set it on a tripod to avoid shaking.
- Plan your recording session in advance
- Find a suitable space
- Pick your best repertoire
- Discuss goals with studio managers
- Be creative with your budget
- Edit your recording
- Take your best snippets
- Post on sharing websites such as YouTube
- Avoid smartphones
- Take landscape videos
- For marching bands, capture a video of your formation
To learn more about taking writing captivating biographies, taking engaging photos, choosing repertoire or compiling press materials, download our Press Kit Guide today!
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