The term “custom record” refers to any artist recording project that is privately financed as opposed to a signed artist whose financing comes from a record label. If you choose Daredevil Production as a partner on your custom record, we will bring the full force of all our Nashville musician and writer contacts to ensure flawless records and radio ready audio recordings.
You will receive the major label experience.
At DDP we approach custom records from your unique identifiable talent as an artist. Here is an example of the steps we take to deliver these radio-ready mixes.
STEP 1: SONGWRITING
Our first job is to guarantee that the songs (or blueprints) are as strong as they need to be and agree with the image and message of the artist to compete in today’s music marketplace. As every artist is different, every approach will be different, to effectively determine exactly what kind of artist you are before we begin.
What kind of artist are you?
Some of our artists don’t write songs as they are just players and singers so our job description morphs into an Artist & Repertoire (A&R) place first. Here we set up meetings with songwriters and publishing companies to find the appropriate songs that will represent the message the artist wants to communicate. This process continues to happen until we have settled on the exact songs we need to begin recording.
A second scenario involves our artists who are songwriters but they want and require some help via co-writes. At this stage, we will set up co-writing appointments with our hit-making songwriters. The first step is to “pair” the artist with the appropriate songwriter(s) with regards to complimentary melody or lyric strengths and of course, style of music that is required. Then this new team continues to write until the artist and us are happy with the songs and we begin recording.
A third scenario has the artist as a complete autonomous package; meaning their songs are written and ready to record; with this type of artist we proceed immediately to step 2.
STEP 2: PRE-PRODUCTION
At this point you have settled on the songs that will appear on your record.
Pre-production starts with the artist choosing their producer. Different producers have a different “sound” and pairing the appropriate producer with the artist is extremely important.
Pre-production is an extremely fun and creative step where we ultimately envision each track to plan the recording process. We start by either reviewing the artist’s work tapes or cutting vocal/acoustic demos of all your songs to settle on final melodies, suitable/comfortable song keys (to fit your vocal range and desired tone), chord changes, and final song structure. Additionally, we discuss basic instrumentation, color-instruments, arrangements, and the “feel” you are looking for; this helps us to choose the appropriate musicians for each track.
For instance, every professional acoustic player is not the same in that one guy may have a “heavier hand” while another acoustic player is much “prettier” in his performances. Once we determine how you hear the song sounding in your head, we can match the correct player for that specific track to achieve the vision we created in pre-production.
Once these expansive details for each track have been determined we then have the task of charting each of these songs to reflect the appropriate arrangement and initial vision for each song. (call us and ask about the “Nashville Number System” if you are unfamiliar with this term)
STEP 3: RECORDING
Now that pre-production is completed we are ready to cut the record. If you are a singular artist this step involves booking the sessions with the carefully selected musicians around the criteria for each song that was determined in pre-production. Typically, this will involve 2-5 sessions depending on how many songs you want on your record and the “color” instrumentation required for the songs.
The recording process is a very exciting step as all the musicians are present in the studio and the first glimpse of “magic” begins to become tangible to you as an artist. Furthermore, working in a room full of world class musicians who are literally performing the vision you have in your head, live in front of your eyes, is and experience you will never forget! FYI, most people only read about such experiences in books!
For the singular artists, we start each track with all the musicians in the control room collectively reading the chart while they listen to your acoustic/vocal demo and take direction from the producers; Kelly and Johnny. Then, we set the team loose in the studio and cut the track with you singing a “scratch” vocal so the musicians are hearing the melody and crafting their performances accordingly so as not to “step on”(or “get in the way of”) the lead vocal.
Once the bed tracks are recorded then we move on to overdubs with any color instruments and appropriate double tracks.
For the group or band artists, the process differs slightly as the band will be the musicians playing on the project. We may book some “color” instrument musicians to compliment the band but the pre-production process involves honing the different arrangements to weave the most effective musical tapestry for each song.
STEP 4: VOCAL OVERDUBS
Once the music tracks are completed, we move on to the all important lead vocal overdubs. In these sessions we work diligently to achieve the highest quality vocal from you. We are regularly complimented on pulling more from a vocalist then they knew they were capable of. Believe us, it’s a lost art!!
Next the completed vocal takes are “comped” meaning we take the best moments of each performance and string them together to make one AMAZING composite performance.
After the lead vocals are recorded and comped, we then track background vocals. Again, we reach into our stellar stable of vocal talent to get the best in Nashville and track up all the necessary background vocals to complete the song.
STEP 5: EDITING
Now that all the tracking is done, the next step is to edit the tracks to ensure the band is tight and the music is at the level necessary for radio ready mixes.
STEP 6: MIXING
Mixing is an art all by itself; so much so there are mix engineers who make a great living just mixing other peoples tracks! This is probably one of the most satisfying steps for you, the artist, as we now take all the tracks and begin to mix or polish them sonically to be pleasing to the ear and to ensure you hear every instrument. Mixing time varies drastically per song depending on the amount of instruments, the quality of the players, and length of the song.
We create reference mixes first. Then you will offer guidance and notes to tweak the mix to your liking. This can be done from home or right in the studio depending on your geographical logistics. Once we have perfected the mix to you liking you will “sign off” on the mixes. Often times we encourage an artist (time permitting) to take a CD of the reference mixes and “live with them” for a week or two. Then we are sure that the artist is absolutely satisfied with each mix, and we ship the mixes to the mastering engineer.
STEP 7: MASTERING
Mastering is a necessary process before mixes can be radio-ready. This process is an art as well. Again, there are mastering engineers who make a very good living by just mastering. The process involves final mastering compressors and mastering equalizers that put the final polish on all the mixes and ensure they will translate on every stereo, every radio station, etc. The mastering process is also where the ISRC Code data is embedded in each track allowing for digital monitoring of song names, album name, artist names, sales, airplay, etc.
NOTE: Mastering services are NOT included in the flat rate for artist tracks. This is due to the fact that mastering is extremely subjective. Many artists have their favorite mastering engineers already and the pricing ranges significantly.
There are several choices regarding mastering houses you have as an artist in all different price ranges depending on your needs for the specific project.
We are happy to offer suggestions if you do not have a specific mastering house in mind.