The Vault Recording Studios in Houston, Texas 713-722-8900  


      9135 Katy Freeway, Suite #1, Houston, TX 77024


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Distribution Services CD Mastering The Studio Equipment Rates FAQ's

     Here are some questions that have been asked by many of our clients over the years. Rather than write volumes on any one particular subject, for the sake of covering several topics, I will use a broad sampling of the range of questions asked. Contact us at The Vault Recording Studios for all of your record production needs. Questions and answers compiled by Dave Williams.

Q. How many songs should I put on my record presentation?

A. It would depend on the purpose of the presentation. If you are submitting to A&R for record consideration, I would include no more than three to four of your very best commercial songs. While not readily admitted, most A&R directors will only spend 10 to 15 minutes listening to your material - if that long.

     If the presentation is of a live performance of your work, a short, tight 25-30 - minute set of your best material ought to do the trick. In some cases, you might want to record your music tracks live, then add vocals in a studio environment for fidelity and clarity. You will then have more flexibility when mixing the material for a superior finished product.

Q. What should I consider when hiring a recording studio for my project?

A. You should first think about your style of music and start looking for rooms that are familiar with that style. Some rooms are better equipped for MIDI/digital recording while others are great for tracking live bands utilizing necessary instrument/vocal microphones and vintage outboard gear. You should also ask to hear a sample of the projects that have been recorded in the room to audition the sound.

Q. When should I start looking for a manager?

A. My stock answer is to look for a manager when there is something to manage! You would have a better quality pool of managers to pick from once you've made a little noise on your own. Other than managers with contacts, industry savvy and a good work ethic, I've found that most "managers" need a little managing themselves. Wait until you have a need for one, then choose wisely. The wrong choice could amount to "the marriage from Hell." First start by looking for good producers, writers, engineers, etc. and get your product on tape. If you are any good at all, the managers will come looking for you.

Q. When do I need to get my original material copyrighted?

A. Get your work copyrighted before you play it for anyone! Sadly, there are those who would think nothing of stealing your music and claiming it as their own. When writers or producers want to play songs for my consideration, I usually ask if they have copyrighted the material first. Your copyright won't protect you from theft. It will allow you legal recourse if the theft or some other impropriety occurs. In any case, copyrighting your material comes under the heading of simply doing good business.

Q. How would I go about "shopping" or presenting my material to record companies?

A. First thing is to make sure the material is well-mixed and mastered (or pre-mastered). Design a label with one of the many computer software programs available, and include a picture and bio information in your package. Send copies to your contacts at the labels or hire a representative to assist you. Most representatives have contacts at record companies and will use their efforts to get you heard. They charge a fee and usually a percentage if they are successful in getting you signed. You should be aware of the range of percentages that are generally acceptable. Seek a source for good information.

Q. How do I go about looking for producers, musicians, etc. for my project?

A. A good source of talent is found by asking recording studios, word of mouth or looking through local music magazines. Start by listening to styles, then discuss budgets and availability. Most producers work with musicians and studios they're familiar with and can put together the entire project for you. Other producers have their own studios, play instruments and can keep everything in-house. I generally keep a compilation CD of various projects handy to give the listener a broad overview of the level of production skills and the quality of the studio.

Q. When do I need to look into agreements and contracts?

A. Once you start to work with anyone associated with your project. Whether it be with co-writers, producers, musicians, managers, agents, or even other group members, you should have completed written agreements before starting your project. Once you've begun work and problems arise, without the benefit of a written agreement, you'll find that your troubles have just begun. I've seen good friendships destroyed over misunderstandings. Get everything committed to paper.

Q. I've recorded and mixed some of my songs and I don't like how they sound. What can I do to correct this?  

A. Before you do anything, listen closely to the things you don't like about the final mix. Sometimes the problem can be fixed by re-mastering. In other cases, the songs may need re-mixing or the re-recording of certain parts. Most times, a song can be saved without too much time and expense.

Q. I've heard a lot about sample clearances and don't know much about it. How do I go about clearing the samples I've used on my project?

A. Clearing a sample, or getting permission to use a sample, is a necessity. It is as important as copyrighting and publishing. Using a sample from prerecorded material without permission is stealing. If you feel that pre-recorded music will enhance your project, you should be willing to pay for its use. There are many sampling CD's available that are fully licensed to use without paying additional fees or royalties. Check your local music stores.

     You can start by contacting the publisher, record label or artist regarding the sample(s) you want to clear. They will negotiate a fee, fill out some forms and probably demand to hear the way the sample will be used. Seek advice on the matter and stay out of court!

Q. Are you able to help me put together everything I need to complete my record project?

A. Yes. See our services offered page. I am sure we can assist you with your next record project.

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