You have a great song (or several) and now you're ready to record, either on your own or at a studio. It's time to decide who will play which parts. Budget, location, and project goals may all influence these decisions. You have several options for filling personnel needs and you can mix and match different options.Have a Band
If you can find good players, being a member of a band can be a very cost-effective way to do a recording project. A dedicated band can put in the kind of rehearsal time that would cost a fortune with studio musicians. If the band writes together or wants to release a CD, get everybody to chip in.
Of course, this means that more people will be part of the decision-making process. The drummer will probably want the drums way too loud, the guitar player will want a solo, and eventually you're dealing with tension among band members; as a result, you've got nothing but bad tracks and an ugly project.
Recording projects have been the end of many good bands, so it's a good idea to clearly delineate who will make which decisions before you go into the studio. If you can't afford a producer, bribe the engineer with beer or donuts for some opinions (he's been put in this position before and still has drumstick fragments in his skull from the experience).
Remember this: No matter how many rehearsals you've had or how many gigs you've played, recording is a different process. People will get nervous and their brains will lock up, parts that worked great at the gig will suddenly have glaring flaws, and all singers will hate the sound of their own voices on a recording. Some of the best live players are awful in the studio and vice versa. The recording studio is a different environment and requires a different approach. The main rules for recording your band are these: Before recording, practice until you're sick of the songs, then practice for three more weeks, and, when in doubt, simplify.Be a Band
Maybe you're one of those guys who can play everything well. Prince is famous for being able to play virtually any instrument found on any of his records. If you fit this description, great!
But even if you can't play everything, you can still do most of the tracks yourself: These days, a good sequencer and synthesizer combination can cover drums, keyboard parts, and bass. All you have to do is program the tracks instead of playing them. Some instruments are notoriously hard to replicate with a synthesizer, but you can sequence whatever works and hire out what's left.Hire a Band
Most studios have connections with studio musicians, and some studios even have a “house band” on call. In any case, the studio can probably recommend players. Get players who read charts and a bandleader who can write them. That way, you can communicate ideas precisely and quickly.
Studio musicians are usually hired by the session rather than by the song. Make sure that you have several songs charted, but don't be disappointed if you only get a few songs recorded. Most union musicians also have a cartage service deliver and set up their equipment. You are expected to pay for this service.
In music hubs, most of these players are members of the Musicians Union, which means they may cost a little more than the guys down at the Antler Club back home, but union session players can be pretty amazing. With a good bandleader and charts, a lot of these cats nail it on the first take, which can save you money on studio time and rehearsals. Also, professional session players know how to set their equipment for the right sound in the studio. This saves time and money as well.