How Much Does a Demo Cost?
It’s a tough question because there are so many answers.
Cameell Hanna, of Serenity West Recording, in Los Angeles, CA states “I’ve seen records where people will come in, having worked on a lot of it at their house, and they come into a really good studio to cut vocals with an experienced vocal producer. Typically, that’s handled hourly in a production room at around $85 an hour for the studio, and $50 an hour for the engineer. A session like that might run about four to six hours, and then after that, there’s a production component to it. They’ll get all the takes and elements they tracked with the artist and spend four to six hours assembling and cleaning up, tuning, comping, adding to the vocals, and then getting a rough mix together. If the heavy lifting is done at a home studio you should be able to save your budget for tracking and mixing. I’ve seen budgets on indie projects in the $3500 per song range turn out great.”
In a simple Google search, this can be very confusing. Although Cameell Hanna’s numbers add up, if you Google “How much does it cost to make a song?”- You’ll find things like this:
“The last step is mixing and mastering the song, which costs another $10,000 to $15,000. So, our rough tally to create one pop song comes to: The cost of the writing camp, plus fees for the songwriter, producer, vocal producer and the mix comes to $78,000”
Now just looking at the details, you don’t need a writing camp to produce a song, unless that’s what you are looking for. Typically if you have gotten to the point where you’d like to record a demo, you have done your writing already.
Further, I did a quick Google search on “How much should I charge for mixing and mastering?” and “How much do producers charge for a song”
“Mixing and mastering is about $100-$200 per song depending on a couple different factors, including the number of vocal tracks whether the beat is tracked out or not.”
“The producer's up-front fee will vary (usually from $250 to $10,000 per song), based on his or her experience and success, your artist's level of success, and the number of songs to be recorded. The fee also can be influenced by whether the label is a local, national independent, or major record company.”
As you can see from the numbers above, the cost of a demo varies greatly. Furthermore, the answers above are only if the music has already been composed. If you are not a musician, or vocalist, you have to hire those as well. In my professional opinion, the keys to having a good, affordable demo made are:
Talk to a music producer to get their opinion. Use their talented ear as a gauge to choose the best sounding musician/vocalist, studio, producer, and sound engineer that is the best fit for your song, album, or project.
Do your own research. Even if you don’t know anything about music or music production. You should contact music studios or look at websites to find out if you can hear their work. If you don’t think their songs sound good musically, vocally, or both – don’t pay them to create your piece.
Musicians, producers, people who don’t play music, and the general public all have different opinions on what a demo actually is, how it should sound, how many songs should be on it, so there is much to consider.
If you are a lyricist or vocalist only, and are not writing the songs or playing the music on your demo, this could be a bit more expensive. There are companies like ours, YourSongmaker, who will do all of the musical writing for you, as well as sing it with a professional vocalist for under $500. You will only need your lyrics, an idea of the emotion you want to convey to the listener, and how you want the song to sound. Companies like ours have only become a recent phenomenon due to the rise of technology. It’s a great thing. There’s a lot of music being made today. In fact, more than at any point in our human history due to digital musicians and home studios.
Demos are being produced more affordably and sounding better than they ever have. I personally welcome this because music is the universal language and we can all be songwriters today – even if you don’t play an instrument or sing. Yes, demos cost money, but I believe it’s easier now more than ever to get quality demos made!