02 Dec Recording An Original Album
There are incredible moments in life that seem to happen out of the blue. They can become a wonderful detour in your life or a bump in the road. Either way it’s sure to bring a new learning experience. Writing and recording an original album with Shannon McArthur and Aaron Sprinkle was one of those priceless moments in my life.
I was a sophomore going to Bozeman High School at the time and was just becoming interested in public performance. At this point, I knew how to sing, play guitar, and play the piano. I’d written many songs behind closed doors, but had never performed any of them in front of an audience. I decided to take baby steps toward performing and began posting videos of me singing covers on Instagram.
My reach went much further than I expected. A talent scout on Instagram watched my cover of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes and contacted me. She was incredibly supportive of my dreams and goals within the music industry. It just so happened that she worked for a producer and artist named Shannon McArthur, who has collaborated with successful artists such as Tiffany Alvord, Jessie McCartney, Chase Rice, and Lucy Hale. She showed my cover to Shannon, and he reached out to me for a Skype session.
During the conversation he offered me a chance to work with him and a close friend of his, Aaron Sprinkle. Aaron is a music producer and artist who has worked with bands such as OneRepublic, Danny Gokey, and Capital Lights. He has also released a few successful albums of his own. The idea was that Shannon would help me with songwriting and Aaron would produce the recording. I was shocked by this opportunity. I would have to pay for it on my own, and it wasn’t the cheapest route to take. There are plenty of cheaper recording studios I could’ve gone to instead, but their experience was worth it to me. I talked it over with my family to decide if it was the right step for me, and ended up taking the offer.
Process of Album Creation
For the next six months I Skyped Shannon weekly. He helped me revise my lyrics and chord progressions, and I continued coming up with new material to show him. He called the new material “seeds”, or the beginnings of a song. It took a lot of revisions and swapping ideas, but Shannon and I finally completed the album. The next step was to record it in Nashville with Aaron.
Aaron and I began the recording process in his comfortable home studio as soon as I was able to fly to Nashville. It took a week of constant recording. While recording, Aaron came up with brilliant ideas to make some samples for the songs. One of his ideas was to sample a drum beat by tapping on the table with his rings and hands. It is currently a part of one of my songs.
After we had finished recording all of the instruments and vocals, Aaron began mixing the EP. I flew back to Bozeman and continued to Skype Shannon for advice. Aaron finished the EP quickly. He adjusted the vocals and instruments and sent me the drafts of each song. Once I signed off on the songs, he had them professionally mastered, and sent the finalized songs back to me.
Releasing the Songs
Finally, we were able to release of the songs. The game plan I made with Shannon was to release each song individually, and then release the entire EP afterward. Shannon gave me advice on how to make my music accessible on every platform and how to leverage social media to get the word out about my music.
Being able to record an original album with such acclaimed music industry professionals was very fulfilling. It really boosted my confidence and allowed me to live out my inner “pop star” dreams for a little while. Most 16 year old girls are not able to say that they’ve recorded their own original EP. Also, it showed me the behind the scenes work of being a musician. Seeing the tech/business side to the music industry sparked a passion within me. It’s how I ended up going to school for music business and marketing.
To give some recognition for Shannon and Aaron here are some of their links:
Click here for some tips before recording your own album!
Written by Mackenzie Rea