Producing an album costs a lot of money, time and talent — let alone producing a successful one. Record labels spend big for artists in the hope that they will create hit songs and albums. For such companies, this is an investment that can lead to millions in earnings.
Did you know that many labels spend thousands in order to create a chart-topping song? From songwriting and vocal producing to mixing and mastering, one song can definitely cost a lot. Now, think about how many songs are in an album and you will realize how one album can end up costing millions of dollars.
Wondering what albums cost the most to produce? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of 10 albums that racked up millions in production costs.
10. The Darkness – One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back (2005)
Cost: $1.3 million
Today: $1.71 million
First on our list is The Darkness’ sophomore album One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back. It was the band’s follow up to their successful debut record Permission to Land in 2003. However, many consider this album the opposite of success as it only ranked 11th in UK charts.
This was such a shame because the bank worked with Queen’s producer Roy Thomas Baker to finish this album. They used various experimental techniques in the hopes of bringing in an explorative sound, which resulted in the large production cost.
9. Metallica – Black Album (1991)
Cost: $1 million
Today: $1.89 million
Next on our list is rock legend Metallica with their 1991 album Black Album. The reason for the high price tag could be the fact that the band and producer Bob Rock recorded and re-recorded the songs in order to release perfect songs.
As you may notice, this record cost less than One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back at the time of its release. However, considering the 88.9% inflation, you will see that this actually costs more than the 2005 album.
8. Tears for Fears – Seeds of Love (1989)
Cost: $1.5 million
Today: $3.11 million
This album’s cost can be attributed to the fact that this album took years to produce. It was released four years after the release of Songs from the Big Chair which contained successful songs such as ‘Shout’ and ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World.’
The best thing about this record is that members of Tears for Fears themselves produced it. However, the members went into debt just to create this masterpiece and they are lucky the album became a worldwide success.
7. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Cost: $3 million
Today: $3.5 million
Rapper Kanye West chose to record the majority of this record at a seaside studio in Honolulu. What drove the cost this high? West rented a glass mansion in Honolulu and three recoding session rooms all at the same time. He also hired two private chefs to feed him and his producers.
As the dedicated musician he is, West reportedly opted not to get proper sleep when creating this album. Instead, he took power naps and worked almost 24 hours going between the three session rooms. This kind of dedication was also observed during the production of his latest album Jesus is King.
6. Fleetwood Mac – Tusk (1979)
Cost: $1.4 million
Today: $4.96 million
This album is considered to be the band’s most ambitious album as it came right after the super successful record Rumours. It was produced in a premium studio, compared to the band’s previous albums. However, it performed disappointingly in the charts.
According to reports, its lack of success can be attributed to the exorbitant price tag, which people frowned upon in 1979. Well, people in 1979 should know that with 245.5% inflation, this album actually cost almost nearly five million today to produce!
5. Korn – Untouchables (2002)
Cost: $4 million
Today: $5.72 million
After the massive success of their 1999 album Issues, Korn followed up with Untouchables. To produce this record, the band moved to Phoenix with its 15-man crew. The majority of the expenses went to the crew and housing with only $700,000 going to the music itself.
Unlike Fleetwood Mac’s album, Untouchables performed brilliantly in terms of charts and sales. In fact, more than five million copies were sold worldwide. However, this is only a fraction of what Issues sold, which was 13 million copies.
4. Garth Brooks – The Life of Chris Gaines (1999)
Cost: $5 million
Today: $7.72 million
An experimental album, The Life of Chris Gaines is Garth Brooks’ attempt to create an alter ego named Chris Gaines. This is much like what Slim Shady is to Eminem. However, there is a reason why you know who Slim Shady is and not Chris Gaines.
The five million dollar album was a flop and sold only two million copies, as opposed to Brooks’ six to seven million copies in the past. Some say that many people were confused about the artist. Nonetheless, the president of the record label was fired from his job for letting this project push through.
3. Def Leppard - Hysteria (1988)
Cost: $4.5 million
Today: $10.19 million
Taking three years before it was finished, Hysteria encountered a lot of issues during production, leading to a high cost. One unfortunate incident is when drummer Rick Allen lost an arm. Moreover, producer Mutt Lange left the team before completion.
The band did attempt to replace Lange but they found the new producer lacking. So, when the band got Lange back onboard a year later, they agreed to scrap all work done in the past year (as demanded by Lange).
2. Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (2008)
Cost: $13 million
Today: $15.54 million
Frontman Axl Rose took a long time to finish this project which he wanted to be the “best record that had ever been made.” It took a whopping 14 years before the album was finished. During this time, the label spent millions on salaries for production team members.
There are reports that around three years into production, Rose was offered one million dollars just to deliver the finished output within a deadline. Well, you can say that he did not make the deadline. In fact, the record was released 10 years after the deadline.
1. Michael Jackson – Invincible (2001)
Cost: $30 million
Today: $43.62 million
The King of Pop tops this list with Invincible, which cost more than $43M to produce. Released in 2001, Sony marketed this record as the most expensive album ever made with much success. This is a far cry from what Fleetwood Mac experienced.
So why did the album cost $30 Million? The legendary artist recorded 50 to 87 songs over five years. He worked with several co-writers and producers in three studios which he rented simultaneously.
Artistic and cultural products such as music are valuable, especially in today’s world where media content has become one of the staples in people’s lives. With the exorbitant price tag of these records, do you think they are worth the cost?
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