by Jose Antonio Ponce

When the New Mexico Music Awards were first conceived some 30 years ago, (as the MIC Awards) the reasoning was simple; we wanted to encourage musicians and producers to create music on par with that that was produced nationally. No more of this “pretty good for local” attitude. We wanted people to create projects that would be able to compete with anything released nationally.

For too many years, New Mexico had labored under the illusion that the music industry worldwide would cut us some slack because of our location. It was this persistent attitude that drove some of our best musicians, producers and engineers to seek work outside the state. The  MIC Awards sought to address this problem.

Emphasis is placed on production, composition and performance of a piece of music. Some categories such as and “Best Engineering” place a great demand on the production quality skills of the engineer in question.

Over the years, musicians have come to see the value of not skimping on production values and we have watched the quality of music in New Mexico reach new heights.

With digital software becoming less expensive and more sophisticated, musicians find themselves able to record better and better product in the confines of home, not always the ideal place to record. A studio environment, with its spaces designed for sound and equipment engineered for sound is still the best way to go.  As the New Mexico Music Awards continue, studio musicians continue to sweep the awards because the performance of their music is supported on a solid foundation of quality production.

The truth of the matter is that you only get out of a project what you put in. If you skimp on planning, rehearsal, production or post-production time, it’s going to hurt you. Digital in most cases, doesn’t fix mistakes, it only makes them more obvious. Here are a few reasons you should consider recording in a studio.

Why hire a professional? Money, it’s got to be the tools.

  • Most recording studios are designed for sound. Most bedrooms, living rooms, dens, bathrooms, garages, churches, etc. are not.
  • You can actually fit the entire band into the studio.
  • When you plug in all three guitar amps, the lights stay on.
  • Professional recording equipment is better than what you bought off of Craig’s list.
  • You don’t have to use the same mic for vocals and the trumpet.
  • Professional recording software is better than your free download of Audacity.
  • Recording engineers actually studied recording techniques.
  • Recording is math and nobody wants to do math. (Except the geeky engineer.)
  • If you want more cowbell, we can give you more cowbell.
  • Professional producers are better than your girlfriend or boyfriend at helping you find your sound.
  • Professional producers have done this before with better musicians than you.
  • Producers can put you together with musicians that can play instruments that you can’t but that you desperately want on your recording.
  • If you suck, the engineer or producer will tell you. (Your girlfriend or boyfriend won’t.)
  • Producers and engineers will help you find that sound in your head.
  • Your project has a better chance of getting accepted once it is reviewed.
  • Your product will be ready to go live once the mastering process is done.

Before you even think about going into a studio….

  • Find the money.
  • Rehearse every song you are going to record until you can play it in your sleep.
  • Decide what your project is.
  • Decide what songs you are going to record.
  • Decide on the instrumentation.
  • Decide on the equipment. (Amps, instruments, etc.)
  • Decide what order to record the songs to save time and money.
  • Shop around for the best engineer, producer, studio.
  • Pre-production. Consult with your engineer and producer about the project.
  • Clear time in your schedule.
  • Leave your ego at the door.