But if you're getting started as a professional musician and you have a budget of basically zero dollars to allocate toward the recording of a demo. If that sounds like you then you'll want to keep reading.
There are several ways to record a decent demo for the purposes of getting gigs without breaking the bank.
- If you're interested in learning some basic recording software you can download the open-source recording software Audacity for free. Audacity will allow you to record your instruments and edit your tracks through the computer's line-in input jack. Once captured in the computer you can manipulate your sound add effects and multiple parts and finally burn it to a CD. I will say that this does take time to learn the software and get familiar with it's strengths and shortcomings--which is true of any recording equipment you attempt to use.
- If you have a four track cassette recorder--I know it sounds ancient, but they're still around and they can be a decent medium to record on for a basic demo. Hey, a four-track is all the Beatles used for the majority of their hits. My advice if you use a four-track cassette recorder is that once you have your tracks where you want them play it back while recording it into your computer, and if you use a software like Audacity you'll be able to tweak your sound and EQ it, and once in the computer you'll have a digital copy of your music that you can burn to disc.
- If you have a Mac computer. It usually comes equipped with the iLife suite, which includes Mac's own basic multi-tracking recording software, GarageBand. GarageBand is pretty robust for how well Apple has simplified it for those who are new to digital recording and mixing.
- When all else fails grab a decent stereo with an auxiliary input and a tape cassette. Grab an external microphone to plug into the auxiliary input, find a bathroom in your house with good acoustics and play your songs live into the recording stereo. Get it to a friend if you're not good with computers to have them get your song from your cassette onto the computer to "digitize" it, so you can burn to a CD again and again without generation loss.
- Another way to get a digital signal of your music is to use your digital video camera to record your live performance. This can serve a dual purpose of capturing a video of your song that you could post to your website, but also you could pull just the audio portion from the video to use as a demo. Most hand-held digital video cameras have pretty decent sound these days--often about 16 bit sound, which is pretty remarkable for such small devices.