Recording Community Choirs on location

Recording Community Choirs on location

Professional Recording services for Community Choirs in the UK

Over the past few years in the UK we have experienced something of a revolution in the sphere of choral singing.   Not too long ago if you wanted to be in a choir the options were usually the church choir, a large choral society or perhaps a Male Voice choir.  By definition the latter option was only available to approximately 50 percent of the population.

The rise of Community Choirs

Then back in 2007, the now legendary Gareth Malone burst onto our television sets.   His first series named simple ‘The Choir’ focused on teaching choral singing to teenagers with no such experience.   Series 1 of the choir was set in Northolt High School, a comprehensive school in the west London suburbs. Subsequent programmes continued the theme by taking choral music to ever more challenging situations.

This seemed to be the catapult which started the Community Choir revolution all across the UK.   Everyone admired the way Gareth could get people off the streets and into community halls to sing in a choir.  Suddenly, instead of staring at their television sets, people were going out in the evening to sing in their local community choir.

Rumour has it that rolls forward to 2018 and there are currently around 25,000 choirs in the UK.  This figure is not just community choirs and encompasses chamber choirs, school choirs, choral societies and a whole host of others.  Nevertheless community choirs are now so prevalent, it won’t be long before every village and town in the UK has it’s own choir.  Some even have more than one!

What is a Community Choir?

A recent article in the Guardian sited singing as the UK’s most popular activity after sport:

“there are more than 25,000 choirs and over half a million singers in the UK*. They get some of the health benefits of the sporty types — increased lung capacity, better posture and so on. But they also get the sheer joy of singing in a group with friends.”

*These figures are supplied by TONSIL (The Ongoing Singing Liaison Group) which

“represents 14 organisations promoting choral singing across a wide variety of genres, supporting over 25,000 members choirs and over 500,000 singers, who each year perform to audiences totalling nearly 3 million.”

Looking at established choir types, most tend to relate either to a particular genre or are only open to a particular sex.   Chamber Choirs, Choral Societies and Church Choirs all focus towards particular repertoire and are often auditioned.   A lot of Male Voice choirs, particularly in Wales have been established since the early to mid twentieth century.  But curiously Ladies Choirs are a much more recent phenomenon.

A community choir is usually a mixed choir and the key element is that members can join without audition.  The choir belongs to the community and is therefore open to all.

A choir open to all

A choir which is truly open to all needs to have several key attributes to qualify:

  • No auditions
  • No requirement to read music or have any prior training in music theory
  • No one is excluded on the basis of gender, race, disability etc
Choirs based on Gender

With Male Choirs already well established and new ones springing up all the time, there are now almost as many Female Choirs around.  A lot of these choirs fit the ‘community choir’ model despite the third point made above.  Increasingly nowadays, with the possible exception of Wales, most communities which have a Male Voice choir now also have a Female upper voices choir (SSA or SSAA).

In a lot of cases nowadays these choirs can therefore still be classed as community choirs.  They are open to all usually without audition and certainly very much a community organisation.

Choirs in the Community

Community choirs draw their members from around the local community, but also exist within that community.  These choirs can become a focus in their community by putting on fundraising concerts to raise money for local charities as well as setting up events with schools and care homes.  Often concerts and events will be put on to support local charities as well as bringing together the wider community at a fundraising event.

Charity Events

Choirs will often be found performing at local events which will generally be in some way charity related.  There aren’t currently figures to suggest how much choirs around the UK have raised for charities, but it is likely to be well into the millions when put together.

If you are putting on an event with your community choir, it’s often the case that concerts which are fundraising for a particular charity, especially one with local benefits, will be much better supported.

Funding your Community Choir

Most community choirs exist for the benefit of charitable giving as outlined above.  However, in the majority of cases there will be some expense incurred in the running of the group.   The Musical Director will typically be paid as well any accompanist if needed.   Most community choirs will meet in a local church or community centre.  These are usually keen to welcome local groups but nevertheless will charge a small weekly or monthly fee for the use of a hall.

Generally speaking, choirs raise this money by charging their members a small monthly or annual subscription.  This will cover the basic running costs of the choir which in the majority of cases will be sufficient to allow them to put on charitable concerts and give something back to the community.

However, memberships will fluctuate and as your choir develops you may need funds to put on larger scale events, and maybe bring in extra musicians to attract bigger audiences.    A lot of choirs will boost their funds by holding social events – afternoon teas are a typical example where members invite families and friends.  This is all well and good but still puts the onus of funding the choir onto those who are in it.

Alternative Funding ideas – Record a CD of your Community Choir

There are many ways in which choirs can boost their funds, but one of the most effective is to record a CD.  Here at Recordings 4 Choirs we understand community choirs.   All our staff either direct a choir or sing in at least one.  Consequently we produced a business model which enables choirs to firstly afford a professional recording and more importantly fundraise as a result of recording a CD.

A lot of community choirs still believe that recording a professional CD is an expensive business.  Historically this has been the case. If you want to take your choir to Abbey Road Studios in London for example, then you will need a healthy bank balance with at least 5 figures.  Realistically there are very few community choirs with this sort of money available.

Recording on location

Recordings 4 Choirs do things differently.  For a start we come to you and record on location, anywhere in the UK.  Usually we spend a weekend recording with your choir and generally speaking we do not charge for the recording session.   Our pricing model is such that you only pay for the CDs you order.  The price per disc is fully inclusive of:

  • 1 day recording with your choir on location at a venue of your choice
  • 1 day post production in our studios to make your choir sound amazing
  • CD artwork design
  • Printing and Production

Choirs who record a CD with Recordings 4 Choirs will often make anything from a few hundred pounds profit up to many thousands of pounds depending on how many CDs they are able to sell.

Further benefits of recording a CD

Recording a CD is not just about achieving a financial benefit for your choir, although this is definitely one of the key priorities.  A professional recording can bring other benefits which could well generate new members and bigger audiences for your choir.

A CD should be seen as a form of free advertising for your choir.  Once you have sold that CD, firstly you have made some money for your choir.  But who’s going to listen to it?  With a few hundred CDs in circulation then suddenly your audience and membership has new possibilities.    You have the chance to showcase your choir to people who might not otherwise hear you.

Online promotion

As well as selling CDs, a lot of choirs record tracks to promote themselves via their website.  We offer digital only recordings which give you the opportunity to put up some professionally recorded tracks on your website to attract both new choristers and audience members.  However good your choir might be, and there are some excellent community choirs out there, it does no harm to showcase the choir and what better way than via a professional recording.

For a few hundred pounds we can record a number of tracks on location with you which are then yours to use as you wish to promote your choir.   All you need is a few new members and a handful of extra people coming to a concert as a result and you have more than got your money back.

If you would like to find out more about our professional recording services for Community Choirs in the UK then please get in touch:

Telephone01225 302143

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