In 2020, the idea of outsourcing audio production might seem like a ludicrous idea for all but those with high production volumes and large budgets. At Finewav, we predict that media production will see major growth in the coming decade as more people and companies from around the world enter the content creation marketplace. Everyone from eBay sellers to real estate agents will likely make use of audio in the form of podcasts, videos, live streaming, and other interactive content.
As more people and small businesses demand high-quality, high-volume audio production, it’s likely that some will require an outside technician or company to handle the workload. As new tools will make it easier than ever to create professional audio content on any budget, new trends and technology will also increase demand for specialty audio content. Music performances, surround sound, and elaborately produced podcasts all pose unique challenges that could necessitate the assistance of an audio specialist. In this post, we’ll focus on audio production for the typical person or small business entering the realm of audio production with an emphasis on vocal recording for podcast and video.
Consider outsourcing your audio production if you do any of the following:
- create large volumes of content
- have audio quality standards that require expert attention
- have little or no audio equipment
- have tight time constraints
- care not to learn about audio
All of the above cases are excellent reasons to outsource your audio production work. The beauty of audio production is that it’s relatively simple, and can be handled easily and inexpensively. Here are some considerations for anyone considering passing off audio production/postproduction duties to a third party.
Outsourcing is cheaper than you think
Because basic audio production and postproduction require relatively little training, it can be outsourced inexpensively. If you don’t own any audio equipment, consider renting a small studio space that covers only your basic production needs. In the past, full-service studios were not only commonplace, but charged premium rates to cover the costs of expertly trained technicians and specialty studio equipment. It’s becoming increasingly common for small project studios to house simple equipment to cut costs for high-volume content creators. Some of the equipment can be operated without the help of a technician, reducing rental costs even further.
Likewise, postproduction can be performed with few resources and little training. A recent college graduate with headphones and a laptop is perfectly capable of delivering quality results for most audio applications. When looking to outsource, look for those willing to work cheaply who can deliver reliable, quality results when needed. Services like Fiverr connect users with people all over the world, offering worldwide competition in the audio postproduction marketplace. Expect audio production and postproduction services to increase in popularity in the coming years, while substantially decreasing in cost.
Audio files are small
Even high-quality lossless audio codecs like .WAV and .AIFF files are relatively small, and therefore can be sent easily over the web. High-quality lossless compressed versions can be made and used in production to shrink files sizes even further (see our post on saving disk space with lossless compressed audio). Consider using a cloud service like Adobe Creative Cloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, or Hightail to send files back and other between you and your audio technician. You should be able to upload and download audio files over a broadband connection with relative ease. For reference, one hour of compressed CD-quality audio is approximately 350 MB, whereas one hour of Blu-Ray quality video would be roughly 16.4 GB or 54 times the size.
Production still needs your attention
Even with AI massively improving software and workflow, the biggest technological limitations stem from recording hardware. Consumer-grade electronics often have a high noise floor that becomes audible when audio gets recorded too quietly. Likewise, noisy audio cannot be truly recovered with any piece of software or technology. Using inexpensive equipment offers flexibility and convenience, but does require some planning and technical skill to optimize for professional recording. If you’re recording with the intention of outsourcing your postproduction, be vigilant about setting levels that aren’t too quiet or too loud, and maintain consistent levels using proper monitoring and good mic technique. Not only will this provide a superior end product for the listener, but will also increase postproduction efficiency, while possibly lowering costs and increasing throughput as a result. Postproduction works wonders to improve audio quality, but it must be paired with well-recorded audio to extract its maximum potential.
Expect a learning curve
Being an early adopter to any new workflow will create some challenges. There are no standard practices or dedicated consumer-grade software for collaborating on media projects. As a result, you’ll have to do your own research and rely on the advice of others to see your project through from start to finish. You may encounter difficulties with unreliable technology and have to experiment with finding the right technicians. There may come a time when audio production and postproduction services become more common and streamlined, but for the time being consider it a cutting-edge approach to audio production.
We hope this has you thinking differently about your audio production workflow, and even considering outsourcing your work to a company or outside audio technician. It’s likely that outsourcing this type of work will become a common practice several years from now, with companies like Fiverr connecting users to specialists and technicians from around the world. Global competition should drive down costs, and standard processes will soon emerge to send projects between technicians and content creators.
If you’re experienced in audio production, you’ll have an even easier time outsourcing audio postproduction since you know what the process entails. For newcomers to audio, consult with a specialist for the best practices to transfer files back and forth between you and your technician. We recommend staying focused on the needs of the end consumer and your time, rather than the use of technology for its own sake.