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I’ve read many an agitated caffeine rant re: the perils of “free” or insanely cheap recording.  This could be yet another.

It is worth noting artists & engineers are far more effective in the role of devaluing our own work than are the more usual suspects:  record labels, file sharing, the weather, the media, the government, our parents.

For all that is written about labels putting limits on “artistic expression” – those cats have  nuthin’ on the conservative tendencies of yer average indie band preparing to cut a record.    “Limitations” one reads, can lead to some of the most creative studio experiences ever.  Period.  But when you read of these “limitations” in Mojo or Rolling Stone… they aren’t referring to “cheaping out”.  It wasn’t budget limitations that made Sgt Pepper great.  And when your idols do speak of “cheaping out” – it’s generally the (evil) label who is accused of this.  And not seen as positive.

Yes.  Recording is expensive as hell.  But why actively cheat our own art out of it’s potential, ourselves? Some take a perverse indie pride in this sort of self sabotage. They feel compelled to emulate the great rock and roll self-swindle. There is a clichéd street cred in a band getting screwed.  Is there also credibility in a band forming their own label and screwing themselves?  Maybe.  Times are weird.

If gettin’ ripped off is the goal, there is good news.  There are plenty of other ways for artists to accomplish this.  Huge $$$ could be saved by avoiding recording your songs in the first place.  This strategy leaves no fingerprints, no evidence in the form of a terrible recording of your cool music.  Brilliant and economical rip off strategy!   And of course, unreleased albums, like unpublished novels – are beyond criticism.

The seductive lure of false economy is made worse by 10+ years of enormous advertising campaigns attempting to convince consumers they can make albums superior to Pet Sounds, and movies better than The Godfather, on their laptop, while multi-tasking.  A lot of money has been made from this myth.  By companies who manufacture laptops.

The myth is backed up by hundreds of “studios” in every midsize city where “producers” record your songs for a couple Snickers bars an hour.  Or for free.  And why not…  for decades interns at big studios have had to work themselves up from being gopher / making coffee – to unpaid assistant.  Why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to work for free from the comfort of their own home?

And so, the perceived value, and piss-poor end product, complete a perfect spiral, ever sinking, waltzing sans grace, like the stock exchange in 1929.

None of the above helps any of us or our music in any way!  So what are we going to do about it?  Well we aren’t gonna sit idly by…

We at Orchid Studios have decided to become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

We are offering a free 4 hr session each month to artists who’s vision is a fit for ours.

Submissions are low-fi:

Send us a line via talkback and tell us something about yourself, and your music.  Honestly, that’s enough to get the dialogue rolling.

If our brain patterns mingle nicely, we’ll ask to hear a song you’d like to record here.  Audio quality is a non-issue.   I-phone recordings of rehearsals, or of a rough pass of you singing to an acoustic guitar is more than adequate.  If you have no recording app  – we’ll have you leave a performance on the studio voicemail.  Good enuff.

We’re not concerned with the recording – but whether there’s something in your music that feels at home here.  If there’s a connection – we’ll arrange to have you come in for one of the monthly sessions.

Hmmn.   I guess this kinda falls slightly under the category of artist development.  Cool. How retro is that?


Rory Macdonald