When I was recording guitar recently I reflected on how recording has changed so much in the last 30 years however, the fundamentals have remained the same.
The technology is vastly different and the tools are so much less expensive. 30 years ago I was using 2 four-track cassette recorders so that I could bounce and get 7 tracks. I would record 4 tracks to one machine and then play along as I bounced the first four tracks to the second machine where I would record 2 more. I would then do a final mix back to the first machine.
Today a person in their bedroom can record on unlimited tracks with great gear for about $1000.00
The Fundamentals Have Not Changed
When I was recording 30 years ago I was worried about being good enough to get my lines recorded, I worried about getting good sounds and I worried if the song was good enough. Those same things are the heart of what is always important and will never change.
The next thing that hasn't changed is that my first 4 track demos sounded about the same quality as most of the first time recordings of bedroom studios today. This is because the fundamentals of recording haven't changed. The skill of the engineer is the most important variable in good recordings.
What has changed
Today, it is much harder to make your first recordings because the technology has a much steeper learning curve. With the 4 track cassette recorder, I could use it without reading the manual. Most people that start recording today spend a few days learning how their software works and troubleshoot getting the equipment to work.
The second thing that has changed today is there is a better chance a musician can get make a career based on their music. If a young person has a bedroom studio and works extremely hard to develop their writing, engineering and marketing skills they have a real shot. This combination of skills in one person is very, very rare. With software instruments, the internet and iPhones people do have access to the tools. 30 years ago the record companies were the only ones with access to the tools.
Setting up a killer home studio for next to no dollars has been drawing musicians in for nearly 20 years. For most musicians, the best option is to make a great home demo studio for about $1000 dollars and use it to record their songs. My advice is to save the money you would spend trying to endlessly upgrade your studio and buy recording time with a skilled engineer(It's cheaper than you think). You can spend your time becoming a skilled songwriter and spend your money buying a superior reproduction of your songs. Sadly many people stop working on their songwriting and go down the rabbit hole of trying to record only to emerge a decade later with marginal recordings of mediocre songs. If you want an edge in the music business choose what you want to become good at and go all in.