You’ve compiled a list of songs, and you’re ready to head into the studio. Whether you’re recording at home or in a professional studio there are ways in which to make your time spent more efficient and worthwhile. By speeding up the process you not only rid yourself of excess expenditures, but also effort, time and frustration.
1. Get Prepared
Before heading into the studio rehearse the tracks you’re going to record with your band for a few days. Practice the full songs with solos, intros and any other extras you think you’d like on the track. This way there are no big surprises once you begin recording and less screw-ups due to people not knowing their parts well enough.
If you’re the vocalist, know your lyrics. Practice them, memorize them and even experiment with different keys to see what sounds best to you.
This also includes preparing your instruments. Change strings or replace drum skins if you need to. Make sure everything is in good working order.
2. Be Healthy
While many artists claim that the use of drugs and alcohol help their creative process or sound, it’s likely you can find that space without them, and end up saving a ton of time. One tip for vocalists—avoid dairy products like milkshakes as they’re not good for vocal chords. Drink water instead. Make sure everyone is feeling good, no broken fingers or tennis elbow. Get a good sleep before recording, and don’t over exert your vocals. Everyone should be at their top performance level.
3. Get into the Right Headspace
Come together as a team. Prepare yourself mentally for recording. Remove distractions, even if this includes friends or family members, from the studio. While it’s nice to have them there, you’ll only be wasting more of your time. Concentrate on the music and your job.
4. Inform Your Engineer and Producer
Have a chat with your engineer and producers about what sound you’re looking for. If there are any other tracks or performers out there who have a sound you’re looking for let them know, as it will help them in the long run to get you exactly what you’re looking for. Play around with mic settings, amps and other equipment before recording to test the sound, instead of fooling around with it after every take—you may be doing this anyway, though.
Be sure to let them know if you’re unhappy with a sound. Don’t be too nice, this is your album we’re talking about. On the other hand, be respectful to your engineers and producers so that they have the enthusiasm to put into helping you make your album.
5. Make Clean Takes and Don’t Fool Around Between Recordings
Wait until the tape is rolling before you turn your volume up and wait for all the sounds to fade out before you turn it back down. Between takes don’t jam or fool around. This just wastes time and often frustrates everyone around you.
6. Take Breaks
If you need one, take one. Make sure the recording process is comfortable for you so that you can put forth your best work. Drink water, go for a walk or whatever you need to get back into that headspace.
7. Don’t Over Listen
Once you’ve got the tracks down, avoid listening to them over and over again. Take a break if you feel tired of the song, or move on to the next one. You’ll find your mind playing tricks on you if you listen to the same music over and over again.
Once you have the rough mix, this tip also applies. Listen to it a couple times and take notes, then put it away for a few days and take your mind off of it. Even though this is hard, you’ll find you’ll be able to come back to it with a fresh perspective. Take notes on each track so that you know exactly what you want to get out of the sound.
8. Stay Calm
The recording process can be both frustrating and stressful. Don’t freak out if at first you don’t succeed. You have the opportunity to take multiple takes if you need to. Don’t be in a rush either, and if you’re not hitting something perfectly consider coming back to that song later. An agitated artist will only upset everyone else in the room, and will not help your endeavor whatsoever.
Now that you’re prepared and ready to head into the studio, use these tips as a guideline on how to get the most out of your time and effort there. By being mentally, physically and creatively ready for your sessions, you’ll find that recording becomes less stressful and more fun.