Audio recording is available for instrumental musicians and vocal artists of all ages and skill levels. Artists can rent studio time for vocal recording only (with prerecorded instrumentals), vocal and instrumental recording, or professional voiceover recording. Additional services include audio mixing, mastering, editing, preproduction and post-production. Professional recording studios cater to a range of musical genres, including pop, R&B/soul, rock, country, hip-hop/rap and more. Several factors affect the cost of audio recording.
The quality of the recording equipment often dictates the cost for audio recording sessions. The higher the quality of the equipment, the more per hour a session will cost.
Larger recording studios may have different sized rooms available with varying recording and audio equipment and varying musical instruments available for use. Studio rental costs are typically higher for larger rooms with better equipment and nicer instruments on hand. For example, The Abstract Recording Studios in Los Angeles offers its smallest room at the relatively low rate of $25 per hour.
Flat hourly rates
Some recording studios have flat hourly rates without any time minimum or other requirements. The following examples of flat hourly rates include studio time, preproduction, mixing and mastering:
Simcha’s Basement in Park Ridge, New Jersey: $25 per hour
- Indecent Music in Medford, Massachusetts: $45 per hour
Some studios charge additional fees for mastering recorded tracks beyond the studio time fee. For example, Shine on Studios in Oakland, California, charges $90 per hour with a two-hour minimum for studio time, while the studio’s mastering services start at $99 for a tuneup and range up to $299 for six tracks, or up to 70 minutes of album time.
Independent versus signed artists
Recording studios may have higher rates for signed artists than independent artists who are paying for recording costs out of their own pocket. For example, the $45 per hour studio time rate at Indecent Music is only for independent artists, rates for signed artists are negotiated on an individual artist basis and generally tend to be higher.
Also referred to as "location recording," mobile recording brings the studio to the client. Typically hiring the audio recording specialist to come to a location will increase the cost for services. For example, in comparison with its $45 per hour studio time rate, Indecent Music charges the following for mobile recording services:
First hour of recording, including setup and teardown: $200
Additional hours of performance: $75 per hour
- Post-production editing, mixing and mastering: $55 per hour
Studios that work with famous recording artists or that feature producers with top hits command higher fees than lesser-known studios without the fame factor.
Musicians or vocal artists can buy multiple-day sessions or large blocks of time to be used as scheduled over a course of days or weeks. Purchasing in bulk up front can sometimes cost less per hour for studio time.
Some studios have a minimum recording time requirement, which will affect the overall cost. For example, Songwriters Recording Studio in Knoxville, Tennessee, has a two-hour minimum, regardless of the time needed and the entirety of the fee must be paid in full upfront.