Preparing for a Studio Recording Session can be an overwhelming task. Recording your music can be expensive and time consuming but it can also be a rewarding experience leaving you with a product you can be proud of for years to come; with careful and considered pre-planning you can put yourself in the best possible position to make the most of the opportunity.
Efficient Time Management
Getting ready for the studio session can be chaotic, especially if you’ve not organised things beforehand.
Have all of the songs written prior to recording. If you play in a band, allocate roles to all of the members so that people know what they are doing. Rehearsing at home will save you a lot of time and money.
Practicing will also improve your performance, which will affect the quality of the record. You should also be certain of the quality of the equipment. Guitar strings should be changed in advance. Waiting for something to go wrong at the studio in order to fix it will interfere with the session and is a classic case of “planning to fail”.
Have a Budget
Decide on a specific amount that you are willing to spend on the recording session and the production of your album.
Many performers and bands believe that they will be done with the recording session quickly. Quite often, the process is lengthier than initially planned. If you require more hours for studio recording than initially planned, then expect this to naturally inflate the initial cost as well.
Estimate the number of hours you will need and add a few more incase you run over. Make your budget calculations on the basis of these hours. It’s always best to have an idea of how much you “may” end up spending, rather than getting an unpleasant surprise at the end.
Be Mentally Prepared
Have enough hours of sleep before going to the studio. Recording your music can be a physically challenging task, especially if you need many hours. Being in the right state of mind will make things easier.
Drinking and recreational activities the night before may sound cool but they are usually a bad idea. Work on your focus and your commitment. Refrain from paying attention to distractions and try to play your music or to sing as naturally, as possible.
Always listen to the outcome before moving on. You may think that it sounds great while recording it but things may sound a little different when examining it much later on. It’s normal to feel that a certain take you’ve done isn’t good enough. It’s OK to do re-takes until you feel you’ve nailed it but try to agree a cut-off point. It’s easy to lose track of time obsessing over every little bit of detail, especially when you’re aiming for perfection.
A Few Additional Tips and Ideas
If you have a drummer, make sure that the person arrives at the studio a couple of hours before the rest of the band. The extra time would be wisely spent setting up the instruments up consulting the sound engineer.
All band members should go through a sound check before recording starts. Keep noise to a minimum and allow the engineer to focus on the task at hand.
Your producer should have a demo of the songs that you are planning to record at the studio. All of the production ideas and your specialised requirements are best discussed and agreed ahead of time. Leaving creative ideas and other aspects of the recording process to the last minute could be a source of disagreement and frustration and could just eat up precious studio time.
Being prepared, rehearsing and making sure that the instruments are in top condition will only help to ensure the quality of the recording session and give you the best possible opportunity to cut that killer track.
Eva Brandt is a trained sound engineer with experience in both studio and live recording. She is a panel member of Rock School and has over 20 years’ experience as a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer.