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What you need to record music in a studio Print E-mail

Sunday, 03 June 2012 00:00

Written by David Samuel

The recording studio is not the place to hammer out your song. So let us start there. Before entering the recording studio you should understand how to chart out your song.    

Bringing charts to the studio will help out the producer and any musicians performing in the studio. You should also grasp the importance of playing to a click track. Being able to perform to a click track allows you to utilize the day and age of cutting and pasting in the studio. This can be very helpful and cut down time in the studio.

For example, let's just say you killed the first chorus with the most magical guitar part equally matched by a stellar vocal, but could not find it on the remainder of the song's chorus sections. No worries, mate, we will take the magic and spread it over the whole song, fitting it in perfectly because you just played to a click track. Saving you time and money with countless takes trying to capture the same mojo you had on the first take.

After you have charted out all your songs and figured out what tempo they are all at for the click, you are now ready to venture on to find yourself a studio to capture this masterpiece. Just remember these little tips and you should be just fine.

1. Find the experienced engineer and producer who is willing to work with your budget. Do not look for the studio that has pro tools! I have heard demos that have come out of million dollar studios that did not sound as good as a home studio. Why is this? Most likely they could not afford the engineer that knew how to work the million dollar studio is the reason why. You are better off looking for a guy who has a reputation of making artist sound great instead of looking for a pro tools studio. A good engineer/producer is able to make a decent home studio sound closer to an L.A. recording than an L.A. studio with a bad engineer.

2. Make sure you listen to other recordings the studio engineer has released. It seems simple enough, but how many bands forget to do this? They get all caught up with what equipment the studio has and what it looks like when they should be more concerned with how good is the guy that is running the show. I mean, you are trusting your baby with this guy or girl.

3. Is he personable? The engineer should be knowledgeable but he should also be very personable. You don't want to be spending 8 hours a day in a studio with a guy who is a tool to work with. Find a good balance of character. This is your baby you are investing in.

4. Bring your favorite albums to reference sounds with. This will help out tremendously in your communication efforts with your engineer. For example, if you love the way the drum kit sounds in U2's Joshua tree album, bring it so he can have an idea of how they are tracking the kit. He should be able to get a good idea on what kind of reverb they are using, did they use close miking techniques and how they mixed it all from taking a quick listen to your CD that you brought in. You can use this same idea to tell him about guitars, vocals production etc.

5. Do not bring your pride. Be ready to be under the microscope. Prepare yourself to be humbled through the studio experience. If you have never done any recording before this can be a horrifying experience. The truth is you are never as good as you think you are and in the studio there is a saying, "The tape never lies." I have had clients swear they did not sound like that. There must be something wrong with the recording. It is quite embarrassing for me and them. As harsh as this sounds, it is a great growing experience and you will become a better musician/artist through it all.

6. If you are a band make a pact, a signed contract if you have to, saying that you will not break up after the recording project! There is nothing more strenuous on a band than the recording process. You are totally naked before one another, not to mention a stranger (the engineer) who is in the room with you at all times poking and prodding at you to help you grow as musicians. The experience can be too much for a young band that was not ready for it all. Be prepared.

7. With all this being said one of the most important things to remember in my opinion is this: Don't be married to the song when you go in the recording studio. The music is the master, not yourself. We are only servants to the music. What do I mean? You really never know what the song will truly sound like until you start to record it. It is so hard to listen to your music with critical ears while we are playing the song. Only until you have laid down some tracks can you sit back and truly listen to your song and the arrangement and listen, not as an artist, but as a music lover. You may find the chorus is a tad too long, perhaps the song is just a little too slow or maybe it's too fast?

Don't be afraid to make changes to the song if it will make the song better. Be open to what others are saying about the song as well. We, the original writers, can get a little too attached to the project sometimes not being open to helpful tips to create a better song. I am speaking from experience on this one.

Woo Hoo! You now have finished this incredible masterpiece and it is time to print this sucker. How many should you print? It is the day of independent musicians my friend. There are printers out there for $150.00 that will print on your CD for you. If you don't have a CD burner yet, I am sure someone you know has one. Get some kind of Photoshop program and design your own cover and make it happen yourself. Print 25 at first and sign up for and get your CD out there to sell online and on itunes. Set up some gigs and sell them at your live shows. Use the money to cover your cost of making them and after you sold 25 print 50 more and sell those. Once you sell a hundred or two, then think about mass producing it through disc makers. No point of making 1000 CD's and being stuck with 999 after you gave one to your mom. Just kidding; hope this helps out in some way. Take care.


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