Only in recent years has remote recording services have really taken off. Being a professional drummer and working out of London’s recording studios, I decided to offer my remote recording services back in 2011. Fortunately I had my own recording studio, which allowed me to hit the ground running just as the wave of Online Session Drummers began to flood the market.
So, what’s driving this shift in the way we make and record music now? Why might hiring an Online Drummer be the solution you’ve always been looking for?
1. Gear & Drummer
Drums in particular are one of the most complex and time-consuming instruments to record. Not only do you need great gear to capture the instrument, you also need to have a suitable recording space to record them.
A small boxy room won’t provide a good drum sound (no matter how expensive the drums might may be), and neither will a room with too many harsh and reflective surfaces – such as an un-treated garage space. There’s a bit of a fine art to getting a desirable, neutral drum room.
Needless to say, this is only part of the equation. As well as quality recording gear and a decent room, you also need a great drummer… Someone that knows how to play sympathetically within the context of a recording environment — someone who knows how to nail the drum sound the artist wants on their song.
So to round up this section; before any recording takes place you want to make sure you have a good sounding room, great sounding drums, quality recording gear to capture the drums and lastly, a drummer that’s at home in a recording environment.
2. Cost & Convenience
The most conventional way someone would go about getting great sounding drum tracks recorded on their song would be to travel to a studio, pay for the studio time, hire an engineer to run the session and hire in a professional drummer. It goes without saying that the costs involved can very quickly mount up, and time can be money.
Hiring someone remotely means none of the above applies. From the comfort of your home or studio space, you can send off tracks ready for a drummer to lay down their parts. There’s no travelling to studios and paying for studio time!
Communication need not be an issue either. If being in the same room with the drummer is important to you, video calling services such as Skype or FaceTime mean you can ‘virtually’ attend the recording session – again, from the comfort of your home or studio. If you prefer to simply communicate through email then that’s totally fine (a good 80% of the time this is how I communicate with my clients, especially if time-zones get in the way!).
Hiring a Remote / Online Session Drummer needn’t be at the detriment of flexibility either. Asking for revisions and changes to made to your drum track isn’t an issue. Whilst some online recording services might charge extra for changes and alterations, I like to provide flexibility and allow up to 3 changes to be made as part of the price I quote. At the end of the day I want my clients to get exactly what they want so that they continually come back to me – you can read some of the glowing client testimonials I’ve received here.
3. Getting results
So far we’ve established that hiring someone to record drums remotely is actually really easy and incredibly convenient. But the proof is in the pudding as they say. Do you really get studio-quality results this way?
Ultimately it entirely depends on who you hire to record on your tracks. Do they have a decent sounding room, drums, gear etc? I can of course only speak for myself and my set up here at WantDrums.com HQ – a set up I’ve worked tirelessly to perfect.
If you’re expecting to mix drums that sound like they’ve been recorded at Abbey Road or Ocean Way Studios, then it goes without saying that this is not a realistic expectation when using a remote session musician. Of course if that’s what you want, then you can always record at those iconic places – but needless to say that’ll cost you thousands! However, you can do a lot with clean, balanced and well-recorded drum files that could get you pretty close…
What you want to look for are individual audio stems, captured from individual microphones placed around the kit (kick drum mics, snare mics, tom mics etc). This will give you maximum flexibility in the mixing stage – whether you mix the drums from scratch yourself or you send them off to a mix engineer to handle that. The more choice you have from a mixing stand-point, the better.
Here at my studio I provide up to 13 individual stems that consist of:
- x2 Snare mics
- x2 Kick mics
- x4 Tom mics
- x1 Hi-hat mic
- x2 Overhead mics
- x2 Room mics
Sending tracks off for professional musicians to lay their parts onto is so convenient and cost-effective that it’s no surprise remote recording is ever increasing in popularity and fast becoming the favoured way of working. It’s pretty amazing to think that from your apartment in Manhattan, you could hire a drummer in London to record drum tracks on your next song. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are!
Like with many things, if you’re considering hiring an online drummer for your next project, do you research and listen to what people are offering. Listen to their audio samples, check out what gear they’re using, how do they handle payment and do they charge extra for making alterations? Above all else, do they have honest and reliable testimonials on their website, Google Reviews etc? Are people recommending them?
I hope this post has been informative and has helped you decide whether using an Online Session Drummer is the right choice for you.