by Amir Hafizi

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So you play music. Or think you have a good voice. You may have a band, or not. You want to join your favourite stars and come up with your own album.

Here are two good pieces of news for you - most popular local artistes today record albums on their own, and you can do so for cheaps! In other words, recording an album can go for a song. Heh.

Here, we list what you will need for two different packages - budget and the works - for an LP with 10 songs.

If you write your own song, music and lyrics, then there is no cost for this.
If you purchase a song from professional composers, it could cost you around RM5,000 per song.
RM optional
Studio Recording
A studio will charge you around RM1,000 per song. You need 10 songs.
Mixing is when the sound engineers (or your cousin) layer the tracks, adjust levels, tweak the timing and make sure everything sounds exactly as you want it to. The same studio will charge you around RM1,000 per song. Again, for 10 songs.
This is transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device (the master). It is around RM250 per song.
This can set you back a lot depending on what you want to have on your album - violins, a nasty guitar solo by Man Kidal or Malmsteen or even Michael Veerapen, a harmonica solo, whatever.

However, if you have enough with your plain setup, then there’s really no need.
Cover design, promotion
This can also set you back. However, if you are resourceful, do consider a simple photo and some graphic design by your cousin and voila! For promotion, launches, et cetera, you can just ask your mother to throw a party or spend some money for food at a friendly local restaurant or pub.

E-media is also offering its office as a launch pad for serious indie acts. Contact us to be considered.


From RM22,500

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Don’t worry, there will be a professional producer to press the buttons.

This sum, RM22,500, merely covers the basics and assumes that you write your own songs and play all the instruments in the album. If you call the National Symphony Orchestra or Malaysian Philharmonic, the cost will go up by quite a bit.

Furthermore, if you pay for songs by professional composers, the cost might easily triple or quadruple. There are also promotions and marketing to consider, for which the is no set figurative or quantifiable amount. Of course, there’s always room for food and drinks and other miscellany that have to be taken into account as well.

Bear in mind, we also did not include the budget for a video or videos.

For example, one local artiste recorded her album for around RM200,000 - complete with a music video. Others, scrimp and scrounge, even taking some of the recording and mixing outside the country, to reduce costs.

The most popular choice among artists is Indonesia. It is the place to go for many musicians who want to produce a recording affordably. We're talking a price tag of around RM300-400 for a 12-hour block. That’s enough for one song. Mixing, mastering also follows almost the same rate, which is only 30% of the Malaysian price.

However, you would also need to fly all your sessionists and bandmates or whoever you have to Indonesia, or anywhere cheaper than Malaysia, and then there’s the added cost of lodging, food, travel and possibly poontang.

It all balances out, in the end. You would need, realistically, between RM30,000-40,000 for a basic album, but really, the sky’s the limit in your pursuit of artistic whatever.

In other words, even though music may be your passion, you'd better be ready to back it up with cold, hard cash - because, really, it is a serious business.

* prices based on some recording studio and professional fees in 2011. The figures may vary according to time, market fluctuations and many other variables.