Studio Recording Tips for Musicians
Few aspects of the music industry are more mysterious and intimidating than studio recording. We've all heard the stories of famous engineers using ridiculously complex techniques and millions of dollars worth of vintage equipment to make professional sounding records. It doesn't take forty years of experience and an extremely expensive facility to achieve great sounding results, however. Whether you're a hobbyist recording in your bedroom or a member of a band that's about to head into the studio, there are a few important tips you should take to heart before you start the recording process to make sure the end result is a recording you're proud of.
Prepare Your Tunes
A studio recording is, quite simply, an attempt to capture a specific song or performance. It would stand to reason that the most important aspect of a studio recording, then, is the songs themselves! It is absolutely crucial to work on your own or with your band to get the songs ready BEFORE you head into the studio.
First, make a list of the songs you are considering recording. Go through this list with the most critical mindset you can muster up and cross off any songs that aren't finished or just plain aren't your strongest efforts. Also note the songs that you consider the best; these should be the ones you focus on. Consulting with friends, family, and fans during this process can be very helpful in making these difficult decisions.
Next, you'll need to take the individual songs you've chosen and prepare them as completely as possible. Write out the lyrics, chord changes, melody, and arrangement details of the song. Rehearse these songs as much as you possibly can until you know every detail and nuance intimately. That way when you're in the studio and the clock is ticking, you'll be free to focus on your individual performance rather than focusing on whether or not you're playing the right chords or singing the right words.
Prepare Your Gear
Though the songs themselves are undoubtedly the most important part of a recording, the tools used in the process are quite important as well, so you should make sure they're ready for the task! If you're a guitarist or bassist, make sure to check the intonation of your instrument and have a fresh set of strings ready to go for your studio session. Drummers should carefully tune their drums and make sure to have plenty of sticks available. Even singers should focus on preparing their "instrument" too. If you're a vocalist, it's a great idea to make sure that in the days leading up to the recording you rest your vocal cords, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep so that your voice is sounding its very best when you get in front of the microphone.
The recording process can be quite arduous and stressful. Sessions in a recording studio often consist of very long hours of frustration with a deadline always looming right on the horizon. Prepare yourself to deal with the physical and mental demands of the recording process beforehand, and it will be much easier to stay calm and focused when it counts.
Expect the Unexpected
No matter how prepared you are for a studio recording session, unexpected things are bound to come up. From broken strings and computer crashes to a vocalist catching a cold, unforeseen events can always crop up. However, if you follow the tips above you will be giving yourself the best possible chance at coming out of your recording session with a great sounding product.