If you have never recorded at a studio before it can be a little daunting and confusing as to what goes down and what is expected of you. Here is a list of tips that will help make your transition into the studio environment a little smoother and at the very least ensure that your sessions don’t implode.
Preparation is key
Recording sessions aren’t particularly cheap, so it’s important to be thoroughly prepared in order to maximise the bang for your buck. Have the songs well-rehearsed, 100% written, the tempo ready for each song and for the love of god please get your drummer to practice to a click. The drums are generally recorded first and lay the foundation of the song so if your drummer is fast and loose with the timing, you will end up wasting a lot more time trying to fix his takes or re-record the parts. The tighter you are as a band, the smoother the session will go.
Have a clear idea of how many songs you want to record and in what time frame. It’s important to discuss with the engineer beforehand so that you both have an idea of how long things should be taking. This will help give structure to the sessions and help with productivity. Focus on nailing the important parts first and save experimentation and improvisation until the end.
Bring Food, Not Friends
If you are tracking for an entire day, you may or may not stop for lunch/dinner depending on your workflow. Bringing a care package of food with you ensures you won’t burn out halfway through the session and get stuck with lethargic drum takes or hangry guitar tracks. Another burden on a productive recording session is when too many non-band members show up. It can definitely be fun to have some friends come through the studio and enjoy in the experience but it’s important to ensure you are focussing on the recording and not socializing. You may end up with a tighter relationship with your buddy but a sub-par song.
Choose the right studio
Recording studio engineers have their own proclivities so you have to be sure of a few things before committing to a studio:
- Do you get along with the engineer? Having to spend hours upon hours with them it will certainly help if you do.
- What genre to they specialize in? A lot of studios specialize in different genres and some have specialized equipment. If you are recording a jazz piano piece, look for a place with a good upright piano and a good acoustic space etc.
Find all the info you can on a studio before you commit. Listen to their previous recordings, read testimonials and talk to the engineer about your project.
Understand the cost
It is important that before you enter the studio, you are crystal clear on how much you are willing to spend. Recording sessions are fickle and often the time allocated for recording isn’t sufficient. There are also variable costs when it comes to mixing and mastering depending on the complexity of the song and the mix. Discuss cost in detail with your engineer and be sure that you are aware of what the bill could be at the end of the day.