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Billie Eilish singing into microphone (above head)

How Can Billie Eilish Really Create Records and Movie Soundtracks in Her Bedroom?

By Robert Safir

Many people were shocked to discover that Billie Eilish had been creating hit records out of her bedroom studio instead of a professional recording studio (as most artists do). Some people are still skeptical that this is even possible. But it is not only possible, it is something most artists, believe it or not, have been doing for many years. How is this technically possible? How has this affected the recording studio budgets of the major record labels? And what does this mean for the future of creating soundtracks for major motion pictures?

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Recording Studios in the 60's

Old fashioned recording studio control room - 1960's
Gettyimages | INA

Sprawling Los Angeles was once the location of most professional recording studios from the 1960s on. They were once much less sophisticated than today's studios such as Village Recorders, The Record Plant, and others - but nevertheless, they had a control room with a tape recorder (from one track to four tracks) and a separate, live studio room where musicians would play. Each musician had one or more microphones that were assigned to separate tracks, depending on the multitrack capability of the recorder. Once the recording was completed, it was usually mastered on a machine which could later produce vinyl records.

The DAW - Digital Audio Workstation

Digital workstation with computer, monitors, and screen
Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrew_Pilling%27s_2011_Recording_Equipment.jpg

Many professional recording studios of the past have since gone out of business due to the incredible recording technology available to anyone at a low cost. Using a computer such as a Mac or PC as the center point, musicians and singers can use DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software at home to record multiple tracks, replacing the recording hardware of old. Completed tracks are then mixed down to a stereo file in WAV or AIF format, instead of a stereo tape recorder. As long as the recording environment is relatively quiet (such as a bedroom), the rest is up to the talent of the songwriter and engineer.

Everybody's Doing It

Billie Eilish holding four Grammys
Gettyimages | Rachel Luna

So who creates the musical magic in a home studio? Well, in the case of Billie Eilish, it's her brother, [Finneas O'Connell]https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/why-is-everyone-creeped-out-by-billie-eilishs-brother.html/). The two of them comprise the team that yielded four Grammy awards for their work. But they're not the only stars doing it this way. There's Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and hundreds - if not thousands - more. This makes recording studio budgets into a mere pittance for the labels. And referencing video or film from a motion picture, songwriters and composers can create a finished film score, as Billie Eilish did in the new James Bond film, "No Time to Die." Check out the "No Time to Die" link to hear the actual song by Billie Eilish.

Technology Rocks

Giphy

Today's technology rocks - literally. You see it everywhere in the creative arts - film, photography, video, book publishing, and of course, music. And while artists are creating new music, they're also using new tools - AutoTune comes to mind. It can correct a vocalist's pitch and a whole lot more. That's where the "robot-like" sound comes from. The more you turn up the AutoTune dial, the more "electronic" is sounds. Is this cheating? Well, a lot of recording artists are doing it - depending on the type of music they're creating. Rap artists certainly do it. Does Billie do it? Take a close listen to her tracks and just for yourself.

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