Get Ready for the Recording Studio!
When you’ve made (or are about to make) the decision to book time at a professional recording studio to start recording there are a few things you should be thinking about. We often find that even though our clients are determined to get the best out of their time at the recording studio it can sometimes feel like harder work than they’d expected. Usually its because they’ve missed a few steps that could have made the difference before they set foot through the door.
If you have a look around the internet you’ll quickly find there is quite a lot of information and opinion with discussion forums, blog posts, videos and document downloads dedicated to the subject of how to prepare for recording. But since you’re here lets add to that list with our headlines of things you should think about before you get on the phone to make your booking.
ARE YOU REALLY READY?
Which is not to put you off, but honestly ask yourself if your sure that there aren’t a few things you could tighten up before find that you’re spending studio time trying to fix things. Do you really know what you sound like? How do the individual sections and instruments go together? Have you been avoiding sorting out those ‘iffy’ bits because, in the moment, it doesn’t really matter? If you start listening to instruments in isolation and find that there are notes that clash or harmonies that don’t quite work, remember that once you’ve recorded it you’re going to have to live with it. Do you play as a band – with consistent tempo and accents on the same beats – or are you playing as a group of individuals? Maybe just a couple of dedicated rehearsals could make a huge difference.
WHAT’S YOUR OBJECTIVE?
Often this will be influenced by your budget, but try not to let that get in too much in the way of knowing what your goals are. Do you want to have a CD that you can sell at shows or do you want to have a recording ready to release for radio, streaming and downloads in competition with the current crop of top selling artists? Knowing the answer to this will help you determine how much time and money you need to put into your project.
WHO’S THE SPOKESMAN?
Who is the person in your band that has the best ear for your overall sound? The one that can see (or hear) the big picture of your music as a whole made of many pieces and not just the bit they played – badly or brilliantly. This might be one or two people, but it’s good to have someone who you all agree will speak for the band and work closely with the engineer to make sure your concept is getting across. That will make it easier to decide if you need to do more, and how to know when you’re done.
HOW MANY SONGS SHOULD YOU RECORD?
Here’s the really contentious bit… if you really want to make an impression and make best use of your money you should record as few songs as is necessary to meet your objective. This will give you the time to aim for as high a quality as possible in the recording studio, rather then devoting time and attention to songs that don’t work or won’t get you anywhere. The more songs you record the less time you will have to make each one perfect. Less songs means you’ve got more time to make a really great version of them.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST MATERIAL?
And now contentious point number 2… you are probably the worst people to decide on what songs you should record. Seriously. That’s not to say you won’t get it right, but there’s every chance you’ll want to go for the one with your favourite bit in it, or ignore the one you’ve gotten bored of playing at every rehearsal for 6 months – even though its the one everyone else will want to hear. To get a great perspective on which songs you should be promoting, get on to Facebook, Twitter etc (you have got those, right?) and get some feedback. Find out which songs are the one that your fans want to hear, and you’ve got a much better chance of finding that other people will want to hear it too.
DO YOU WANT A PRODUCER?
Actually, that’s probably best left for a future post!
That’s it for now, just a few suggestions to help you get set for a brilliant recording studio session. We’ll be posting more on this topic regularly but we’d also love to hear from you. If you’ve got questions, or a recording studio experience you’d like to share then please add them in the comments section below.