5 Things to Prepare Before Going to a Recording Studio
Whether you’re an up and coming artist or a bedroom dreamer, stepping into a recording studio for the first time is a one-of-a-kind experience. Most people don’t realize this, but the magic actually happens before the artist comes to record and today we are going to cover the 5 things to prepare before going to a recording studio for the first time. These are things I have learned for personal experience both as a recording artist and as a studio engineer.
Lots of engineers have a particular work flow, and adhering to this work flow saves you time and money, especially if you’re hiring studio time at an hourly rate. If you can come into the recording work space having your songs practiced, that might not always be enough. Practicing your original material to a metronome or a click track will go a long way once you get in to track. There are plenty of easily accessible apps out there to help you with just that, such as Metronome - Perfect Tempo and BPM by Gismart.
#2: Finish writing your material.
Chances are, you’ve just finished saving to record your debut single or album. Studio time can become expensive, so don’t plan to start the creating process on that time unless you are prepared to empty your pockets. There’s always room for improvement in performances and little parts can be changed on the fly, but don’t try and rewrite a symphony on a shoestring budget.
#3: Respect the environment you are in.
The trust between the client and the engineer/producer is something that should be put above everything else. Always be kind, courteous, and respectful to those around you. The session will always go easier and you’ll find if you are polite, a camaraderie will eventually form - you'll find the work becomes easier as you gain more trust in the person working on your music.
It’s perfectly understandable to be nervous in the studio - especially if you don't know what to expect. Performing for one person, usually the engineer or producer, can be very intimidating, especially if you have to sing. If music is a hidden passion of yours and you haven’t played out or let really anyone hear you play/sing before, you have to release the nerves and trust the engineer will be non-biased but encouraging. As an engineer who has recorded and worked with plenty of artists, I will always try and push for the best performance, but you have to be willing to relax and let it happen naturally.
#5. Be patient.
As soon as you hit record, you plan to give a great performance. But it may not always sound so great when you play it back. Half of the battle is performing your heart out - the second half is bringing it together in the mix. The important thing to remember is that the songs will always only sound as good as you are. Like I said in #4, I will always push the artist to give me the best performance possible; the pitch can always be corrected in post-production but a solid performance is the backbone. As long as I know the artist is singing their heart out, any listener will easily be able to tell this and feel more connected to the song.
In short, be prepared. The more prepared you are, the easier your session will be for you and the engineer or producer working with you. Watch your timing, make sure your songs are finished, respect the studio, be relaxed and be patient. The sooner that happens, the sooner you’ll have the perfect result. Hopefully this helps give you some ideas for things to prepare before going to a recording studio for the first time. Happy tracking!
Audio Engineer + Session Musician