Finally reaching that moment when it’s time to do some recording is priceless. All those hours spent on making and practicing songs paying out as you go and materialize all your hard work.
However, if it’s your first time recording, you might find yourself not knowing how to prepare, or what exactly to do once you enter the studio.
With an experience of playing in 4 bands over the last 8 years, as well as working in a recording studio, I’ve decided to list 6 of the most important things to have on your mind when going into the studio the first time.
The whole process of recording and working with a producer will have much more sense and will be much easier once you’ve read this article. In summary:
- Do your research
- No rehearsing during studio time
- Set goals
- Check your gear
- Listen to the engineer and producer
- Have fun!
1. Do some basic research on the studio
Chances are that a friend recommended a studio to you. Sure, he is your friend, and you trust him, but you should do some research on the people working in the studio, their previous work, and the equipment they use.
Knowing which DAW the engineer and producer are using makes the whole process of recording way easier. If you had the chance to play around in the same DAW, maybe you already have some recordings that may prove useful in explaining what kind of sound you want.
Ask the people working in the studio about some of their earlier work. That way you’ll have a better image of what their style of recording and producing is. It’s important to know what to expect, so you can come up with some suggestions before it’s too late.
2. The studio is no place for rehearsing your song
Have all of your songs well prepared and rehearsed before going into the studio. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be open for minor adjustments, whether in riffs or drum patterns, but it’s crucial that you come with a finished song/album.
Think of it this way, wouldn’t it be annoying if you went to see a movie in the cinema, only to see the actors on the screen forgetting their lines?
Most engineers and producers have a limited amount of patience and will tell you openly to go home and come back once you’ve rehearsed the song enough.
By coming prepared, you will not just save money, which, if you’re paying by the hour can be a lot, but you will also have more time for other things, like mixing and production.
3. Set a clear goal for yourself and your band
As someone who has no previous experience with recording, you might not know how much time each part of the recording process takes.
After your first day or session, summarize your experience. How much time did tracking the guitars take? What about bass or vocals? This way, you’ll have a rough picture of how much you can get done in one session.
Always have in mind that tracking the drums can easily be the longest part of any recording session.
Try to focus on one or two things at per session, and get things done. By doing so, chances are that you will move along with your recording relatively quickly, while still maintaining quality.
4. Check your gear, and bring some snacks
As important as knowing to play your own songs, don’t forget to check your gear.
I’ve seen many bands coming without drumsticks, picks, or even missing a string or two!
Sure, there are always some spare drumsticks and strings laying around in the studio, but the fact that you didn’t even check, or didn’t care about your gear just shows how unprofessional you are.
Just as you would get angry if the technician forgot a piece of his equipment, or forgot to update windows before you showed up, think about how you look coming to a recording studio without the necessary gear.
So, pack your instruments and accessories, but also, don’t forget about some snacks!
Chances are you’ll be spending the better half of a day in the studio, and the whole process can get pretty exhausting. Get something to drink and a chocolate bar or something similar to keep that metal pumping in your veins!
5. Listen to the sound engineer and producer
As we’ve already said, setting up a goal for yourself and your band is pretty important. However, listen carefully what the people working in the studio have to say.
They have worked with many different people and had probably just every single request regarding their songs not sounding “metal enough” or the sound being too “muddy” and whatnot.
Listen to them, and listen carefully. Not only is that going to speed up the whole process, and result with your songs sounding much better in the end than you previously imagined, but you will also learn something new.
It’s funny how I was convinced that I knew best about everything the first time I entered a studio. It was only when I started working in one when I realized how stupid I had looked! Don’t make the same mistake.
6. Don’t forget to have fun!
I know, I know, it sounds cliché. But really, never forget that you’re doing this because you want to.
Just think about how great the record will turn out in the end. All those riffs, sick beats and vocals finally in a format available for the world to hear!
As hard as the whole process can be, with countless hours of repetitive metronome sounds, playing the same part over and over, try to look on the bright side.
Stay focused, but at the same time be relaxed. Crack some jokes with the folks at the studio, get to know them, and show them that you’re ready for complete cooperation.
That pretty much rounds up the most important things you should do before going into the studio. If I had this knowledge the first time I entered one, I’d probably have numerous albums recorded by now. But hey, there’s a first time for everything, and by reading this article, I truly hope you found it helpful.