How Much Money Rock Bands Spent To Record A New Album In The ’80s

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Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo has compared the modern rock and the classic rock bands of the 1980s in an interview by the Ultimate Guitar. In the interview, he also claimed that back in the 1980s, the rock bands spent around $100,000 to record a new album.

In the 1980s, the use of digital recording and synthesizers became more widespread. Also, during this decade, other electronic genres which featured non-traditional instruments were popular. Rock music, on the other hand, had split up into multiple subgenres. Both hard rock and heavy metal were quite popular, and various older rock bands made a comeback in the ’80s while others had difficulty adapting to current trends.

The albums’ recording process was quite different from what it is now than how it was in the 1980s. The differences are mainly due to technological advancements, as technology now makes it easier to record a song. Speaking in an interview, Rudy Sarzo, who played with Ozzy Osbourne in the 1980s, claimed that one can release singles, EPs, or an album quite easily now. Therefore, that effortlessness has affected the marketing, promotion, and the band’s creativity while recording new music.

In the interview, Rudy Sarzo claimed that in the 1980s, making a record cost around $100,000. The bassist then added that today you could make an album even at home. According to the musician, the sound and emotion of the songs are now different, though. He claimed that now, one can make a Zoom call to record a song, while back then, everyone needed to be in the same room to communicate better.

Speaking to Ultimate Guitar for the interview, Rudy Sarzo talked about modern times and the 1980s:

“There have been huge changes, mostly because of technology. The Beatles were able to get away with it because they did so much overdubbing – if they only had four tracks, they would start bouncing. The technology made it easier for frequencies to go lower and higher, but mainly lower. As we get older, the higher frequencies don’t affect us as much, emotionally, as the lows can. That’s why musicians typically tune lower rather than higher. You don’t hear anybody out there saying, ‘I’m going to tune to F.’ Everybody wants to go lower.

40 years ago, when ‘Metal Health’ came out, that was only available on vinyl, and with vinyl, you have certain mastering rules where you can only go down to certain frequencies, otherwise, the needle starts skipping. Each side could only go up to 22 minutes or so, I believe it was. Van Halen was famous for having 18-minute sides so they could get the full range during the mastering. So that changed, there’s more content on a release nowadays. With mp3 now, you can release singles, EPs, or an album. So a lot has changed in marketing, promotion, and creativity.

Back in the ’80s, the standard cost to make a record was about $100,000. Now you can make them at home. The sound is going to be different, and the emotion will be different. You don’t have as many magical moments and musical epiphanies when people are sending tracks back and forth. We were always in the same room so there was that communication. Although right now, we’re on Zoom and I can look at you and I can get a vibe off you, I can read your face and your expressions. So there’s a certain intimacy there, but I can’t feel your energy and you can’t feel mine. So that’s a big difference compared to when we’re in the same room.”

Although it is quite delightful to listen to a nostalgic record, today it takes much less effort to make a new album. Due to that, the bands suffer less from financial troubles during the recording process and produce new musical efforts in less time.