Things to expect when you go to the music studios
As a singer, it’s important to make the most of any time in the music studios. It’s the place to finally record that well-rehearsed music you’ve perfected. Therefore taking control, communicating and preparing ahead of the day will give you the best chance of preparing yourself efficiently and will increase the chance of getting the recording you desire. Below are some more hints on how to prepare and what to expect from the music studios.
What to expect from the music studios
Speak to someone before attending the music studios and establish whether your session comes with an engineer or not. Some big studios will just rent out the music studios and you will have to arrange an engineer in addition. The vast majority of the music studios will be run by the producer but it’s always worth double-checking. Establish rates, times, availability and whether the equipment is supplied or not. If possible pop in for a quick visit and chat with the producer and ask for samples of their sound. Doing this will help you to know what to expect in the music studios.
You must be organised and know what you want to achieve in your studio session and then translate that to the engineer otherwise you will leave the producer guessing and the end product may not sound how you wanted it to.
Make sure you have rehearsed your songs to perfection. The music studios are not the place to rehearse as you’ll eat into valuable studio time!
Practice singing your song with a metronome to avoid timing issues, especially if you are used to singing along live with instruments.
Rehearse your techniques! Vocalists should practice warm-up and breathing techniques as studio microphones will pick up all nuances no matter how subtle. Guitarists should practice avoiding finger sliding squeak noises.
The night before recording, you need to make sure all of your equipment is set up properly and you have spares if you need them. Ahead of the day and on the day be prepared to tell the music studios exactly what you want from them, you’re paying for their time so make sure you make the most of it. It’s potentially going to be a long day, so make sure you’re ready to work hard and focus on what you’re doing.
The music studios
Let the engineer direct
Of course, it’s your recording session and it’s your money that’s being spent, so you want it to sound exactly like you imagined. However, it’s also wise to let the engineer direct the music too as they are likely to have ideas and experience in the music studios that will help improve the songs, which you might have not considered.
Prepare your song
Have a clear idea of what you want the end product to sound like. Perhaps prepare a mood board to take with you that includes genre/similar artists etc. to give the producer a firm idea of your vision.
Do you want the song to have backing vocals or any additional instruments? Deciding this before you visit recording studios will make life easier for the producer if he knows everything in advance.
Try to keep the song length to no more than 3.5 minutes (the length of a standard pop song). Make sure in rehearsals you tighten the song to the length required for the recorded version.
Make sure the song grabs you straight away with a catchy hook line (this can be an instrumental or vocal line). Most people will decide if they like a song or not within 30 seconds, so ask yourself questions like ‘is the intro too long?’ and ‘does the song show off my sound and abilities best?’
Once you’ve got all of your music recorded in the music studios, it then goes through editing. This can be a tedious process, and since you’re probably paying by the hour it’s best to make sure it’s done quickly. Many people like to ‘fix’ parts of the music after they’ve happened; sometimes it’s quicker just to sing it again, which will save you money.
Rehearsing and preparing will help you save money because if you’ve perfected the song it reduces the need for lots of edits!
Mixing is when the song is tested through different outputs to see whether it has a good quality sound no matter what it’s played through. It’s sometimes wise to take the finished product home and see how you feel about it outside of the music studios, then bring it back if there’s anything you want to change.
Once your music has been edited and mixed, it then gets mastered; this is one of the most important processes. This is where the CD and its tracks come together and are working on as a whole. The order of songs will be thought-out and audio levels, EQ and compression will be worked on.
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself! It’s still a day at the studio and by the end of it, you’ll have something you can give to fans and record labels etc.