8 TIPS TO GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR RECORDING SESSION
BEFORE THE DAY
So you’re about to have a recording session? This can be both exciting and daunting at the same time (especially if this your first time in the studio or with a new studio/producer). To help you better prepare for your day in the spotlight and to get the results you want, we’ve prepared a series of pro tips from preparing for the recording session to what to look for in a good studio/producer. Part One is how to prepare for a recording session. Here we’ve listed the top 8 things we've found sabotage a good recording session.
1. Have Your Songs/Tracks Finished
This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people show up to a recording session unprepared or with half written notes that are still sitting on their phones. Unless you have specifically arranged for a songwriting session or jam session with a producer in a studio, assume that the producer is there just to record you and what you have prepared. If you are the type of person who tends to write and record at the same time, or there’s an idea you want to trial in the studio, make sure you’ve communicated this with the studio or producer you’re going to be working with, to make sure you’re on the same page AND and to make sure that you’re working with the right person (a lot of producers are audio engineers and aren’t musicians). Their job is to make you sound the best that you possibly can based on the performance you give on the day. It is not the producer’s job to write your songs for you.
2. Do Your Practice
Before you turn up to your recording session, make sure you’ve done your due diligence and have spent adequate time practising your performance. If you’re an instrumentalist, practising to a click track to keep you in time is invaluable and your producer will thank you for it. If you’re a vocalist, being sure of how you want to execute the lyrics and any improvisations (even having a few options ready) before you go in will also make the process smoother. If there are difficult passages in the song that can be a hit and miss scenario, then practise practise practise! until it becomes second nature to enter and exit that passage. Time is money and the last thing you want to be doing is wasting your hard earned cash because you didn’t take the time to practise. There is nothing more frustrating for a producer than feeling like their time is being wasted, but you also want to be feeling confident going into your session.
3. Have A Plan
Before you go into a studio, have a goal or an idea of what you want achieved by the time you leave your session. After a full day in the studio, we’ve had artists get through as little as a single top line for a single track versus three songs completely recorded in three hours (stacked harmonies and all). The difference? Being prepared. Songwriting is finished and adequate practice done before going into the studio. If you’re in a situation where you don’t write your own songs, ask for a copy of the guide track, backing track and lyrics with enough lead time so that you can practice and get your own ideas about how to make the song your own before turning up to your recording session.
4. Do Your Research
When it comes to working with a new producer/studio its pays to do your research. Again, if you’re going to be spending your hard earned cash you want to ensure that you’re going to be happy with the end result. You don’t always have to go with the big names to get a great result (there are some amazing up and coming producers who will do just as good of a job as a world class producer, they just haven’t built up their name yet) but make sure you’ve at least heard examples of their work and that you’re a fan of it. Each producer has their own quirks (trademark) that makes them unique. If you’re a vocalist, make sure you’ve heard and like examples of their work that includes vocals.
Tip: Editing and treating vocals is another beast within itself and there are plenty of brilliant producers out there who’s forte isn’t working with vocals so it pays to do your homework.
5. Work With People You Like
Business is business and everyone has their role to play, but at the end of the day, you’re always going to have a smoother process when you respect and enjoy the company of the people you work with. Not only will you enjoy the experience more, it’ll also help you to relax and get the best performance as well as keeping the creative juices flowing. You should feel like you can openly discuss ideas and and have fun!
6. Get A Good Night Sleep And Leave The Stress Behind
Ensuring that you’re well rested is important for a good performance on the day. Not having to spend hours and hours re-doing takes will not only save you time during your session (so you can get through more) but it will also save time in post production. The better the takes are during a recording session, the less time and effort the producer has to spend comping and editing your takes which (if you’re paying by the hour for their services) is a big advantage! Also note that being overly stressed can have the same effect on your performance, so leave your stresses at the door.
7. Don’t Drink Alcohol
Don’t drink alcohol or take any substances that can effect your performance the week of (and especially the night before) your recording session. This is particularly important for singers and vocalists. Drinking alcohol upsets the mucus membranes within the vocal chords causing them to feel dry and constrict, making it difficult or uncomfortable to give a good performance. Not only will you sound tired and flat, but you’re increasing the risk of permanent vocal damage if you’re pushing to get the sound out.
Tip: While there are some nifty tools that producers can use to edit a vocal like Auto-Tune and Melodyne, there isn’t really much that can be done to improve the overall “vibe” of a tired vocal that lacks lustre and vibrance. Save yourself (and everyone else) the disappointment of hating what you hear back in the recording by not drinking. Save that for after the recording session to celebrate a job well done.
8. Know Your Studio Location
If you have to travel to your studio, make sure you know in advance where the studio is located in relation to where you live or where you will be staying. Take a few minutes to enter the address information into google maps to find out how long it should take you to get there. Depending on where the studio is located and the time of day you have booked, you may need to allow additional time to compensate for traffic (peak times), find a car park, or to walk from the nearest public transport stop. If you’re unsure of the best way to get there, call the studio for directions. They should be more than happy to give you some inside tips on where to park and what transport to take.
Follow these steps and you’re sure to have a great time in the studio. Stay tuned for Part 2 - How To Get The Best Out Of Your Recording Session (On The Day)
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