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Recording Live Could be Fatal

I can understand the need to get your music out there to the listeners, for them to appreciate and hopefully like what you do. But there are many bands out there that are too hasty to do this and inevitably get a negative result instead of achieving a long line of faithful fans.

I'm talking about live recordings and live videos.

It isn't necessarily the bands' fault that, on the whole, the quality of these recordings is below par. However it is the bands' fault to release these recordings to the public.

A band needs to understand that live recordings of 'established' artists are finalized in the recording studio, many times re-recording voice and removing parts of the show where obvious mistakes were made onstage.

Live performances are a series of moments. If you make a mistake, the moment when you made that mistake passes and is quickly forgotten by the live audience because they are listening to the music from the next moment in the performance.

The problem with live recordings is that if you don't remove those error moments, every time the listener hears your performance they will hear the mistake, because the mistake has been permanently fixed into the recording. Sure sometimes it's okay to leave a mistake or two, after all you need to appear human, but drums out of time, singing flat or sad guitar solos are too much.

Bands make the mistake in recording live with inadequate equipment, where the source is normally taken from the ambience which, on the whole, produces a distorted sound, and not taken from line to the table and passed onto multi channel equipment to be mixed and finalized later on in the studio. The extra cost of doing this will result in a recording of better quality and the tracks could be used in a live album at a later date.

Live recordings are to remember the spectator what they experienced during the shows of their favourite band and should be directed to this audience. A live audience will experience more than the music during an event, they would experience the atmosphere, the emotion of being at a live event and not concentrating directly on the music in itself. Rarely a live album would create for a cold customer the same experience and so the live recording needs to highlight the quality of the music.

As we are in the video age, this attention needs to be doubled as we are able to see the empathy of the artist onstage also. Image quality is important, as is the interaction between the artist and cameras; I say cameras as just one camera won't give adequate dynamics.

For up and coming bands I would advise to use video recordings as a tool for self improvement, to be kept in private, to be analyzed to make the live stage performance better, to see what could be done to improve the presentation.

I would also advise them to only make public studio recordings which can be quality controlled better to generate a fan base and release the live recordings later on when the fan can relate more with the band. I'm not saying that you should from day one produce a mega album, as that would probably be unviable, but produce one song at a time when the cash flow permits. That way at the right time you will eventually have enough material to have your collection of songs and put them all together on one album.


Steve Allen

Steve Allen Steve Allen is consultant and music producer. Author of "Marketing Your Music – Success Strategies", "Personal Management in the Music Industry" and "Street Teams – Expand your Fan Base"                                       http://www.marketingyourmusic.net

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All Rights Reserved - Steve Allen 2006

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