I know I said I was going to make posts about everything that happened this summer, but right now, I’m in the middle of something big–I’m producing my first album.  I’m producer, engineer, executive producer, and keyboardist on Singer/Songwriter Lily Garay‘s debut bilingual pop EP “My Heart Beats.”   For the next few weeks, I’m going to be keeping a “Studio Diary” so you can have an insider’s look at the whole thing.  I will also have some mixing and production tips interspersed here, too, to make it even more interesting.

Many non-musicians and even new or uninformed musicians think that making an album is something glamorous and fun.  But the truth is, it’s not that glamorous at all, and sometimes, it’s not even fun, either.  People think that the artist just goes into the studio and magically comes up with some songs on the spot, and then some guys push buttons and move knobs, and the recording is all done.  Yeah, right.  Making an album means long hours and, often, little sleep.

There is so much to think about, and since it’s only Lily and I doing everything for the album, that makes it even harder.  I’m in charge of recording and production, and Lily wrote and performed the songs on the album, but there’s so much more to an album than the music itself.  You have to set your deadlines, make a budget, create artwork, figure out manufacturing, register copyrights, form a promotional strategy, write press releases, plan the album release party, and so many other things.  It makes your head spin at times.

Not surprisingly, I’m pretty overwhelmed right now.  To be honest, I’ve only completely finished one mix, and there are four left to go.  I’m supposed to print the master before the 9th, so that gives me a little over a week to finish mixing and then master it all, too.

I know what you engineers are thinking: “A whole week for four mixes?  No problem.”  Except that I have school and a big history exam this week.  Oh, and did I mention that I have two piano lessons to practice for, a band to lead, and a project due in one of my other classes this week?  Yeah, it looks like little sleep and a whole lot of caffeine…

As far as mixing goes, I’m not too concerned.  After what I learned at GRAMMY Camp this summer, I know I can make a good mix.  The problem for me is going to be the mastering.  All I’ve ever mastered were my demos.  That’s it.  It’s going to be trial by fire.

When you set a deadline, even if it’s stressful, it’s also reassuring.  You know that whatever you have then is what you’re going to have.  No matter what, you will be done by that date.

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About Shelby Rawlings Blalock

I'm a 21-year-old composer, pianist, music producer, audio engineer, and GRAMMY Camp 2012 alum. My neoclassical, self-produced piano album "Airborne" is available now on iTunes.

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