Getting into the music business is both exciting and frightening. You hear many stories of starving artists like musicians sharing their work for free in the name of self-promotion. Paying to produce a song is even scarier when you imagine having no money. So, how much does it cost to produce a song?
There is no one-size-fits-all price for music production. However, most new music producers should invest in decent software and equipment costing between $1,000 and $5,500. The good news is you may already own some of this equipment.
Nobody said making music was cheap. Fortunately, familiarizing yourself with what you truly need can help cut costs. We’ll go over the logistics of pricing below.
How Much Does it Cost to Make a Song in the Studio?
Perhaps the easiest way to start making music is to book time in a studio. Local studios will likely charge an hourly rate influenced by their equipment and other amenities. Thus, it’s wise to plan your time in the studio wisely.
The average music studio charges around $50 per hour. A top-of-the-line music studio charges around $250 per hour. Because composing a song can take between 1 hour and 24 hours, making a song in a studio can range between $50 and $6,000.
Unfortunately, the nature of songwriting means that cost is hard to predict. If you plan the process at home before using studio time, you’ll spend fewer hours and fewer dollars.
How Much Does it Cost to Make a Song at Home?
If you intend to release several albums, you’ll save a ton of money in the long run by building a home studio. Nowadays, you can do this more affordably than ever before. If you have a desktop computer or laptop, you already have the most critical tool.
While we mentioned that software and equipment cost a lot, this includes things you might already own. For example, a decent computer for editing may factor in $500 to $1,500 of your startup cost. If you already have a reliable PC or Mac, you already have a potential workstation.
What You Need to Build a Home Studio
Getting a basic home studio up and running isn’t difficult. Let’s say you already have a decent computer for editing. What else do you need for a respectable home studio?
If you intend to sing, you’ll need to be able to record clean vocals. Like this condenser mic, a high-quality microphone is a crucial part of your setup.
For stellar sound, you need to be able to hear every nuance of your recordings. A pair of studio headphones or in-ear monitors let you hone into every element of a song. If you neglect this part of your setup, you won’t catch subtle mistakes — but people listening to your music will.
Sound Editing Software
For those on a super-tight budget, Audacity is free and works well. However, you might consider purchasing DAW software designed exclusively for music producers.
To get the sounds from your instrument (or voice) into digital form, you need some form of an audio interface. Your interface can range from a simple USB adapter to a pro-grade hub. Without an audio interface, you won’t be able to get your sick electric guitar riffs onto your computer without sacrificing sound quality.
A decent audio interface complete with instrument cable ports costs between $100 and $200. However, the sky is the limit regarding how much you’re willing to spend.
What you classify as an instrument is up to you, be it a guitar or a MIDI controller. If you’re an electronic music artist, your computer will suffice. Nevertheless, you need some way to make the music you plan to record.
When it comes to recording high-quality audio, you need high-quality instruments. How much this costs depends on the type of music you plan to produce. A rock artist would need to spend at least $1,000 for a good electric guitar, bass, and drums. On the other hand, a hip-hop artist might not need all of this.
Making Money as a Music Producer
We don’t need to tell you that making money through music is tricky. But if you manage to pull it off, you’ll have a livelihood that others will envy. You can certainly earn enough money to cover the cost of song-making if you approach it wisely.
First, you need to ask yourself what kind of music producer you want to be. Do you want to front a metal band? Or would you like to be a music producer hired to create soundtracks? You should also ask yourself if you’d like to work for a company, another creative, or be strictly self-employed.
Now, look at the different outlets for profiting in the music industry. And don’t forget to license your music!
The most straightforward way to make money with your song is to perform it! With this method, you don’t need impeccable technical skills or a master’s in marketing.
Get in touch with local venues and see if you can convince them to let you perform. In many cases, business owners will be glad when they can put “local music” on their Google My Business page.
A YouTube Music Channel
Making enough money to live comfortably through YouTube isn’t as easy as some say. It takes a combination of search engine optimization, video editing skills, persistence, and luck to pull in six or seven figures.
However, nobody is stopping a talented musician like yourself (presumably) from giving it a shot. You’ll need to garner around 1 million views to make $1,000. Getting millions of views for a decent income is challenging but possible.
Teach Others How to Make Music
If you have so much passion for music production you can’t keep it contained, why not share your knowledge with others? Many people are willing to pay good money for valuable expertise. This is especially true if you’ve written and recorded songs.
Becoming a music teacher may not sound glorious, but don’t sell the idea short. The best music teachers have propelled several of their students to fame with their skills. Having talent is excellent, but spreading talent is a superpower. With this route, you’d be a music producer producer!
Selling Physical Copies
Here’s a newsflash for you if you’ve been living under a rock: people like to stream music! Selling CDs and records are harder to pull off nowadays. However, you can make more money per listener than on Spotify or Apple Music.
The 21st-century vinyl craze is still alive. People buy records for their unique sound quality and collectability. While vinyl records cost a bit to manufacture, you can make a comfy profit if you sell enough of them.
How to Make a Song on a Budget
Spending hundreds of dollars for a couple of hours in a studio or over a thousand for a home studio is a serious obstacle for many aspiring songwriters. While it’s nice to have access to equipment if you’re serious about song production, you don’t need it to get your feet wet.
Holding back is the smart move. Push the capabilities of what you have, and you’ll be surprised. You can make great EDM tracks with only a laptop. Additionally, many smartphone apps are available that provide free-to-use loops and beatmakers. Nothing stops you from using what you have to make a sick track.
And if you decide, “I need this piece of gear,” you can go ahead and get it with complete assurance that you’ll use it.
How Long Does it Take to Make a Song?
If you’re booking studio time, how long it takes to make a song dictates how much it costs. Otherwise, it’s just nice to know.
There are two significant stages of songwriting. The first is putting together the beat, lyrics, melodies, and chords. The second is recording the song.
Stage one is usually quicker than stage two. Artists like Beastie Boys and Taylor Swift have written songs in under half an hour. This usually involves putting together a few lines, finding the beat, and working with a typical chord progression. Experienced musicians can do this easily.
Stage two is where things get technical. Famous artists usually have salaried sound engineers tweaking sound levels, adjusting pitch, and trimming the recording. Bands commonly do dozens of takes before the final cut is imported into DAW software. This takes several hours.
How much it costs to produce a song depends on countless factors. If you have a home studio, making a song is free once you have your equipment. On the other hand, booking studio time for $50 to $250 an hour can get pricy fast. Additionally, the instruments you need for your genre and the audio quality you seek to affect the cost per song.
Music production isn’t cheap. If you push yourself, though, you can make enough money from your music to offset the cost. Keep going, and you might be lucky enough to score one of the most extraordinary careers.