10 Things Every Artist Should Do to have a GREAT Recording Studio Experience!
If you've ever felt anxious heading into a recording studio, don't fret you're in good company. Recording sessions can bring about all kinds of negative emotions from slight anxiety to crippling fear (trust me, I've been there). But your recording studio experience doesn't have to
end in disaster! In fact, your recording studio experience can be a fun, creative and thoroughly enjoyable experience. I've compiled a list of the most important things to keep in mind before heading into a recording studio so you can get the most out of your experience and have a great time making music!
1. Be rehearsed!
The number one thing you can do to be prepared is to PRACTICE! Nothing can bring your stress level from 0 to 100 faster than struggling to track your parts under the pressure a studio brings because you don't know them. Save yourself the embarrassment and fury of your band-mates and know your songs intimately well before heading into the studio.
2. Practice with a Metronome
If you've never tracked with a metronome before, start practicing now! The difference between a clean, tight and punchy recording and an unclear, muddy mess is all in how well your band's sense of time is. Being able to play in time with a click is vital to getting a final product that sounds great!
3. Do some or all of your Pre-Production before arriving at the studio
What better way to prepare for a recording studio than recording demos of your songs beforehand. Recording your songs before heading into the studio not only can help give you a clearer picture of how your songs will sound to a listener, but will greatly improve the efficiency of any arrangement or composition changes you might want to make once you get into the studio.
4. Pick an engineer you know and TRUST
Don't just assume that because a producer's work sounds great that they will give you a product that you will love. Music production has as much to do with taste, passion and personality as it does to do with the technical prowess. If you're a country artist, going to a metal producer might not turn out the way you imagined, especially if they've never had experience with your genre of music. Most importantly though, pick a producer that is excited about you as an artist and wants to work with you because they like you and your music. A producer that likes your music is going to put their heart into the production and isn't "the heart" what making music is all about anyway?
5. Talk to Your Engineer Before Showing Up at the Studio
Communication is key and the same goes for your recording engineer. By talking with your engineer beforehand you'll get a good feel for their personality and what to expect when coming into their studio. Ask them good question like what to expect and how they run their recording sessions. It will make both of you feel more at ease come tracking day.
6. Fine-tune your instruments, bring new strings, sticks and drum heads.
Don't be a cheapskate! A live show or practice is only momentary, but a recording is FOREVER! It will make all the difference if you do professional setups of your guitars and invest in brand new heads and strings when you record. Talk to your engineer though, because they might have factored into their budget drum heads and/or strings.
7. Vocalists, take care of your voice
Having a good warm-up routine will help you sing better while helping prevent you from blowing out your voice by preparing your vocal chords to the stresses of singing. If you deal with acid reflux (nearly 50% of singers do), talk to your PCP about treatments because that will greatly help to improve your vocal performance. Invest in a vaporizer to use in the studio to help keep the your vocal chords moist. Bring along an anti-inflammatory drink or supplement to keep any inflammation down in your voice. Finally, remember to rest your voice, especially if you're tracking a full album. If you're doing a lot of vocal tracking on a particular day, it's a good idea to keep talking to a minimum earlier in the day and more importantly, after your vocal tracking.
I know... taking care of your voice is inconvenient, but you'll be happy that you took the extra effort to do so.
8. Figure Out Who You Want to be Involved in the Writing Process
If you want to keep your relationship with your band-mates and producer on good terms then you should figure out how you want to divvy up writing credit for your songs before heading into the studio. With the hectic, fast-paced nature of recording studio environment it can get hard to remember who wrote what part of a song. If you want your producer's help in the writing process, then you should talk to them and figure out those details beforehand.
9. Bring References
It's a good idea to bring examples of mixes you like to help give your engineer an idea of what you are going for. While it is okay to bring song that you really like as examples, try to focus more on songs that have great tonal balance, in a genre that's similar to what you're going for.
10. Stay Positive and Have Fun!
Keeping a good attitude in the studio will go a long way with your final product. With the scrutiny that you will be putting your songs under while in the studio, it is only natural for it to become a roller coaster of emotions. Do your best not to freak out if your voice doesn't sound like you
imagined it would or your guitar playing sounds weak or your drums sound out of time, especially if this is your first time in the studio, Trust your engineer that he will tell you if a take is good. Remember why you went into the studio in the first place; to share your music with the world! Make the most of it and have a blast!