Time is money. And when it comes to recording in a professional recording studio, this applies in full force. In order to have a pleasant time in the studio and to be able to use your creative energy properly, it is good to keep in mind some basic recommendations.
- Make a plan together with your producer
It’s good to have a clear idea of exactly what you expect the recording to sound like. Sometimes the recording is so routine that it is written down by sheet music and the musician’s participation in the recording is reduced to professional skills and qualities. In other cases, a more emotional approach is suggested. Then of course the mood that is captured and recorded is the most important factor. In such situations, all or several performers may be recorded live.
In order to properly and effectively distribute the time spent in the studio, it is good to plan these opportunities. Also, if musicians have a specific “own” sound for which they use effects, instruments, etc., it’s good to anticipate that and bring them along. It is normal to need more time if a certain sound is “searched” in the studio when unfamiliar instruments, effects and equipment are used. It’s another matter when experimenting. Then the recording studio becomes a creative zone and everything is allowed. Of course, everything is a matter of desire and means. So discuss very carefully what variant entry will be yours.
- Prepare as best you can for the recording
Getting into a recording studio is almost always about time and money. If you don’t have an unlimited budget and you don’t go in with the idea of experimenting completely in the studio, it’s good to prepare in advance. This basically includes the song or songs you will be recording in the first place. Visually describe them as a complex of modules. This will make it easier for you to navigate what is coming up and what has been recorded. Describe the instruments involved in the recording. Each of the performers should approach individually and “clean” their parts to perfection. It’s also a good idea to check your tools and equipment. If strings need to be changed and instruments tuned, do so before going to the studio. You can list effects settings and other such specific things that would take up unnecessary time in the studio. Also see 5 tips every musician should know before a recording session.
- Plan your recording budget.
This is extremely important. Everyone probably does, but we have to mention it anyway. Despite the “shrinking” of the recording business for a number of reasons, it is still being recorded and will continue to be recorded in professional recording studios. We will open another thread about the benefits soon. So discuss your budget with your producer (this is also a very interesting and important topic, namely who is the art producer, who is the executive producer, manager and impresario, etc.) and colleagues in the recording studio. Various compromises may have to be made on both sides. For example, to record all night or to give up some unnecessary parties, but in any case you must be fully aware of this and agree to the conditions. Also, if every musician shows up with good timing and doesn’t get too wasted on spontaneous ideas, you’d be surprised how stretchy a recording budget is.
- Feel free to bring your other records.
If you’ve experimented at home or recorded demos beforehand, be sure to bring them. They can be used in many ways. For example, as a reference audio material, as an addition to the album, as a background texture, or just to borrow an idea that has been done great there. Especially with digital recording, some passages, elements of the recording that you recorded at home can be used and take place in the piece in a unique way. This will also save studio time. Sometimes some takes are so unique in sound, mood and performance that they really must be used in the final recording. So don’t worry about bringing all the materials you have on the particular song. It’s a good idea to listen to them beforehand with your producer to flag any such elements.
- Bring reference records.
Whether you’re looking for a certain mood or sound, words are unlikely to describe it more accurately than the recordings you can bring. Discuss your concept with the producer and other musicians in advance. Get as close as you can in idea to what you envision your recording to sound like. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to borrow something from other records. An idea for a sound, for a break… there might be something that turns out to stop the process because it’s not fully thought out. It happens to everyone. And great artists borrow too. So take it easy. This is normal and would only be beneficial. Your music is hardly that original, and there’s nothing to point to in terms of sound or mood. Still as the poets said it “sad but true” …. everything is made up 🙂 But you never know ….
- No bullshit!!!
Are you in a rock band? Everyone knows that sometimes a musician turns to stimulants (or whatever we call them) to relax and rock big. No! Don’t do it to yourself. You are here to do work. Not someone serving you and making sure you don’t break anything. As some other poets had said, “99% labor…”. This may sound like a cliché, but don’t do it to yourself. Being completely useless to both your gang and yourself. Waste of time and unnecessary unpleasant situations. You are in the studio to work! Once you’re done, throw the coolest party ever for the super records you’ve made. But make them first!!!
- Don’t allow too many people to attend your session!
It’s not about the live sessions, where fans sat in the room with the musicians and listened with them on headphones. This is another thing. It is about all those relatives and friends who take the session as a party, make noise and go here and there. Sometimes it’s great to have loved ones around for support and reassurance. They are not professionals and do not know what it is about. For them, the session is something fun. The truth is that for musicians it is distracting and thus they lose more concentration and focus. So be careful who you allow to attend the recording sessions. Not just for you, but for everyone involved in the recordings. Also, don’t forget about the people who work in the studio. They work together with you and in your benefit and interest. So it’s not appropriate to do this to them, to put up with your rowdy friends and cater to this diverse crowd in different ways. As mentioned above, let the party be afterwards. Another very important and really problematic situation can be expressing an opinion. The location is perhaps a separate point in these recommendations, but here too it is worth mentioning what a problem this can be. For example, in situations where you’re not too sure about the end result of the recording, or you can’t decide how to play it, or exactly which amp to use for that solo. We are used, when we cannot make a decision in certain situations, to consult and listen to the opinions of others around us. If you don’t have a producer to guide the process, there’s a kind of chaos in these situations. Then the rule “as many people, as many opinions” comes into play. This does not help a constructive work process, on the contrary, it is unnecessarily nerve-wracking and makes the decision even more difficult. This leads to waste of time, money and most of all nerve cells 🙂 So don’t let many people attend your session!
- Advising on alternative strategies.
If you lack inspiration, then maybe it’s time to resort to this method. Created and used by legendary producer Brian Eno (U2, Talking Heads, David Bowie) and Peter Schmidt. When things hit a dead end, they have applied this method as a way of working through various creative dilemmas. In short, someone draws a card or series of cards and the others watch and give advice on whether or not it makes sense. This way you manage to look at the problem in a completely different way. Some maxims describing such states are “Look at mistakes as hidden opportunities”, “Highlight the differences”, “Fill every beat with something”, “Go outside and close the door”. Of course you can try your own way of dealing with such situations. They are there anyway, and that’s completely normal. There is a simple and nice sentence that reads “From defect – effect”. Maybe that’s how you’ll create something that, no matter how hard you try, you couldn’t get there otherwise. The most important thing is in such moments … see item 10 🙂
- Last but not least.
The best performance is when everyone plays live. This also applies when recording. Even if it were possible to do this and record the performances of all the musicians at the same time, things are quite different when recording. This means that in order to record the sound of all the multitracks, there are many devices involved, microphones, cables, software, etc. With that in mind, don’t get caught up in any principles of exactly how the recording should be done. Use your time in the studio and be unique. Look for emotion by being able to discover a new sound or add to an idea with something in this studio. Make effective use of all opportunities. The studio probably has tools and equipment that will spark your creativity and make you want to incorporate these new sounds into the recording. Your rehearsal sound might be great live, but in the studio the possibilities are so many and one of them could be the hit element in your song. Do not limit yourself, but give freedom to your emotions and moods. Well, that’s exactly what music is. If you’re short on time, don’t rush into a decision just to move on. Better take a break or move on to recording another part or another song. Or another alternative strategy item 8.
- Stay positive!
Things can go wrong. You may have broken a string during the greatest solo you’ve ever played. You might have a problem with the weather or something else playing a bad trick on you. These things are unpleasant, but try not to be influenced by them. Some records have the chance and luxury to be made and polished to perfection. However, most do not have this luxury. And who cares. Perfection is boring. Emotion comes from people’s feelings. And people make mistakes. Use the chaos as energy to fuel the session. Listen to your colleagues. Encourage them. Sound recording is a team effort. Be open to opinions, experiences and ideas from colleagues, producers and tone directors in the studio. They also have a wealth of experience that can benefit you. Making and recording music can be much easier than ever before. And one last recommendation … log in to record a song that is finished. Don’t leave adding lyrics or changing the song structure on location in the studio. This may not work for various reasons. Prepare as best you can. And have fun!