I’ve been fortunate enough to spend part of my life operating a project studios recording everything from demos to fully produced albums. I’ve also been an artist in someone else’s studio to record. After seeing both sides of this fence between artist and studio, I’ve decided to share with you what I consider to be the most important things to know as an artist, or band, preparing to record in a studio.
Here’s the scenario I’ve seen repeat itself consistently. A band comes in to the studio to record, and they can’t agree on the tempo of a song. One person swears they play it faster, and no one can agree on a tempo. Or worse, a song is fully recorded and later the band realizes they played it too fast due to the excitement of being in the studio.
If you practice with a metronome, you will either be able to either record to a click for consistent tempo or at least start a song at the right tempo. You’ll avoid spending studio time dollars trying to figure out the right tempo for your song.
I’m sure everyone in the band thinks they know the song structure, but would you put money on it? When you walk into the studio, you are. So sit down with everyone and write out the structure of each song. Then practice the songs following the structure you’ve written down to ensure you got it right.
This written structure can range in varying degrees from song section names and bar counts to full notation. What’s important here is that you avoid moments where you are disagreeing with each other over the length of a solo or where the drum breakdown was supposed to be. You get the picture!
Believe it or not, there are different ways to maximize your studio time that will benefit you financially. If you plan on recording multiple tracks over an extended period of time, it may be more beneficial for you to focus on tracking drums to guitar scratch tracks first to avoid repeatedly paying for drum setups and tear-downs.
When creating your recording plan, it’s also important to determine the order of the songs you are going to record. If you have a song that your vocalist will blow his vocal chords out on, have him do it last. If you have a song that is particularly challenging for someone, you will need to ensure that you don’t tackle it last. It will add extra stress as he or she is looking at the clock.
Open ended projects are notorious for two things: not finishing and going over budget! So set a release date for your album and tell people about it. This will force you to work within the allotted time and budget (since time = money in a studio). Will your album be perfect? No. Will an extra month or two make it perfect? Nope. Perfect is the enemy of good, and will prevent you from ever releasing your music.