Writing and recording an album is a laborious process. While the technology has certainly become better, easier to use, and very reasonably priced; the reality is the artist still needs to”do the work”. Here is a breakdown of the process and the timeline:
Write good songs. A song can come in a flash of inspiration or it might take weeks and months to finish. But let’s just use an average of one song per week. If you intend to have ten songs on the album then you have ten weeks of just writing.
Choose style and write arrangements. Each song will have it’s own arrangement and style. One might be sparsely arranged with just a guitar and voice while another might require a horn section and multiple voices. We will take an average of 2 days for each song to complete an arrangement.
Record the songs. If the artist has written the arrangements ahead of the recording date the recording process will only be focused on capturing great performances. Two parts to this: Musicians: well rehearsed musicians focusing on playing with inspiration and passion. Engineer: expert audio engineer who knows what mics to use, how to use their DAW (digital audio workstation) and focuses on taking amazing “audio pictures” of the performances. This process can take 4 days per song.
It should be noted here that many artists like to combine steps two and three. In general, that usually takes longer but can feel and result in a more organic, natural arrangement.
Mix and master. This is where your audio engineer really shines. Each song needs to be surgically taken apart, analyzes, balanced, and made to sound “alive”. It’s really music under a microscope. This process can take a week or more per song.
Album cover and liner notes. Artists then must pay specific attention to the look of the album and partner with a graphic designer that can compliment the mood of the music and the artist. This requires, in many cases, lots of different layout options and sometimes custom photo shoots. The average time would be a minimum of 1 week for the cover.
Putting it all together for a ten song album
- Writing songs: 10 weeks
- Arranging : 2 weeks
- Recording: 8 weeks
- Mix / Master: 10 weeks
- Album cover: 1 week
- Total: 31 weeks
And for that time and investment the artist will get $.0006 for each play on Spotify! Consider buying the music from your favorite artists.