The weeks before recording are almost always stressful, but they don’t have to be. Here are some tips to help you have a great time in the studio!
1. Have IN TEMPO scratch tracks – The tracks will benefit you in more than one way. It will help your producer understand where you’re trying to take your song. It will also solidify your parts as sometimes an idea will sound better in your head than on a track. The studio should also be a place for creating, so don’t over do it with the scratch track and be willing to change things when you are sitting in front of the big board.
2. Write out your music – This doesn’t mean you have to write it out in notation. I mean, if you can read sheet music, then sure, write it out that way. If you like to read chords or tabs, then write it out as chords or tablature. Write your lyrics out with plenty of space to make notes. I recently recorded with someone who liked us to write every breath out as it’s own individual line. This reckless abandon for trees is actually now my favorite way to do it. It makes it really easy to review the vocals and get the best take.
3. Band meetings – You can’t do this all on your own! Every band member should establish what they are going bring to the studio or any prep work that needs to be done beforehand.
4. Have open communication with your sound engineer/producer – Don’t’ be afraid to send an email asking what they need to help keep the recording process on track.
5. Have realistic expectations – In my experience, even if you have everything planned and you’re armed to the teeth with everything you’ll need, it takes about 10 hours per song you’re working on. Let me put it down simply… DO NOT TRY TO FIT FIVE SONGS IN A TWO DAY SLOT. You’re spending your time and your hard earned money here. This should be a fun process, that kind of stuff bleeds through the recording. Just don’t rush it, you have your whole life to record thousands of songs. You don’t need to fit all of the songs you have in one recording session.
As an idea of how it usually goes. First, you will lay down the drums. You can have the drummer play live the with the band and just have only the drummer being recorded (just in case that confused you) and have him play to the scratch track. There are benefits to both paths. After that you’ll have the bass track, then the guitars or keyboards. After all of the instrumentation, you will lay the vocals over the top. Now, obviously you don’t have to do it this way, It’s just comforting to know the way most people do this.