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I wanted to go over a few tips that I feel the artists need to know before entering the recording studio. There are two sides of recording music, the performance and the engineering.
That being said, and myself having played both roles, I am confident that if you take these suggestions into consideration the next time that you record, it will go much smoother for everyone involved.
Recording studios have changed so rapidly in the last several years. What used to be limited to large commercial operations can now be achieved in smaller studios, with even the most modest budgets.
No matter the type of music you record, or how simple or complex the studio is, there are a few tips to keep in mind when you're starting your recording project. These aren't just beginner's tips, I know many recording engineers with myself included, who has been doing this for years who live by these same rules.
It's easy to get caught unprepared, here's a few tips to help you avoid it.
Show Up Rested
If you were going to give a public speech, you would make sure you were rested and prepared for your big day. The same goes for the recording studio session.
Just because Jim Morrison made it through his recording sessions in a drunken ‘rock and roll’ state, doesn’t mean you can. Many of you will be on your own budget, not the seemingly endless budget of a major record label, time is money and that money is YOUR money. Be sure to show up relaxed and focused.
A healthy and conscious mind can make a big difference while in the studio. Everything from what you eat to the amount of sleep can affect your performance and stamina. So get some rest and leave the celebration till after the session is completed.
Make the studio comfortable. Bring some snacks if you like. The vocalist should drink plenty of water, but not very cold. Ice water restricts the vocal cords and makes it more difficult to hit those high notes. Consider drinking hot tea with maybe some lemon and honey.
Be Prompt For The Recording Session
In our studio, every minute that your late is on your dime. If we agree to begin recording at 2pm until 6pm, and you show up an hour late, you will only have 3 hours to record and we may not be able to extend the time if needed as we have other recording sessions scheduled.
Master Your Material
That is to say, know your music. Practice until it is perfect and only then is it time for you to try and record it. You would be surprised how many peoples show up to record and don't know their material. I recommend anyone coming into record to spend a couple days rehearsing the material.
The last thing a person needs to do is enter a recording studio unprepared and spend lots of time and money recording take after take. The goal is to give the best performance, so time is not wasted in editing. that is when it can become very time consuming and expensive.
If you take my advice and ‘master your music’, ‘practice for a couple of days before the recording session’, when you step into the studio, you should be able to knock it out.
Last minute lyric changes are acceptable and sometimes they work right and sometimes they don't, but keep this to a minimum. Consider bringing the lyric sheet for the engineer, sometimes that can be very helpful.
Avoid over-producing the song. Often a clean recording with minimal intervention will showcase your song in its best possible light. Remember, if someone likes your song it will be reworked many times before it is released on the charts.
What Do I Do Now
Have an idea of how you want to go about doing the recording session. Do you want to record all the parts simultaneously? Do you want to record a track and then go back and record each part individually? There are many different ways to approach this process. If you are not sure, call us ahead of time so we can discuss your project.
Who’s In Charge Of The Project
Someone has to be in charge of the overall project or you’ll have chaos. You need to decide who’s going to make the tough calls and final decisions. One person needs be appointed the decision maker. A democratic approach does not work well in the recording studio.
Take A Break
Take occasional breaks of 10 to 15 minutes to relieve ear fatigue. After a little quiet time, you may pick up things you weren't able to hear before.
What About Effects
Don't use a lot of effects while recording. It is better to record the tracks dry and add the effects later. Effects are easy to add, but nearly impossible to remove.
Relax And Have Fun
After all these ‘rules’ it might seem like recording isn’t any fun at all. Quit the contrary, when all parties involved are aware and comfortable with these ‘rules’, the recording process becomes a very special time.
Without having to worry about being in tune, people chatting away or being distracting in the background, rushed for time, etc., you are allowing yourself to let loose. This gives you the opportunity to really let this music you have been working so hard on, really shine.
The most important things are to know your tunes inside and out and know what you want the recordings to sound like when they’re done. Remember to avoid over-producing the song. If you’ve got that covered, your session should be a piece of cake!
Remember, it's emotion and feeling that make the best song, not necessarily the best technical rendition.
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