Making a recording is a necessary part of a musician’s career. If you want to book a gig, a promoter will want to hear a recording. If you’re going to get press or if you’re going to get signed to a record label, the powers that be will want to hear a recording. But what are some excellent recording studio tips before going into a recording studio for the first time?
First, know that going to a studio can be pretty stressful. Getting those parts down perfectly is not easy, and you will want good preparation. Know what you are going to play and how you are going to play them. You should also know how a little about how the recording process works for working efficiently with the engineer and producer.
This article will give you a rundown of what you need to know before going to a recording studio for the first time.
Why is Recording Important?
You really can’t be considered a serious musician unless you have a recording of your music. Every time you try to move your career forward, such as getting a gig, getting press, or submitting to a record label, you will need to have a recording ready.
In this world of online music, a recording can also be a valuable commodity. Many musicians post their music online to make money. By cutting out the middleman, some can make a more significant profit than they would with a record label.
Making a recording also helps validate a band. If you don’t have music online, some people might think you’re not dedicated to your project and aren’t a “real band.”
A recording is one of the most important ways to represent your band. Any mistakes made on the recording and any elements you are not happy with will be there forever. That’s why it’s essential to have your preparations ready before entering the studio.
Recording Studio Tips: How Does the Recording Process Work?
Knowing a bit about the recording process will help you get prepared for your recording. You don’t have to know everything. The engineer or producer will help walk you through most issues. But knowing some essentials will help the process run smoothly.
Here are some things you should know:
- Be Quiet!! Probably the essential thing to be aware of is that sound leaks. If you’re anywhere near someone that’s recording and you make a noise, it can leak into the recording. That means you can ruin a potentially great recording with the sounds you make. It would be best if you also waited a few seconds before talking after a recording finishes, as anything you say may end up in a spot where sound engineers can not delete it.
- Stop if You Make a Mistake: The idea of a recording is to get a perfect take. With new technology, you may likely be able to punch over small mistakes. However, if your recording is going badly or you did something that is throwing you off track, stop playing and ask the engineer to stop recording. Forcing with the process will be a waste of time.
- Live Recording vs. Each Instrument Separately: Some bands like to do live recordings while others want to record separately. A live recording requires the entire crew to play together, and each one’s track has a separate recording. Sound engineers overdub later to accommodate extra tracks and fix mistakes, but overall, each member’s performance must be pretty good. While this can be nerve-wracking, it can be a time saver in the long run. Some bands also prefer it because it captures live energy.
- Mixing is Done Later: After recording all the tracks, they will go through mixing and mastering. Generally, the processes involve the engineer and producer getting the levels right and making sure everything sounds cohesive. However, with new technology, they may also be able to play with sounds to get tones that the musicians could not achieve during the recording process.
Recording Studio Tips: Know Your Parts
Some musicians love the recording process, and some hate it. As a musician, I can tell you I hate it.
It’s very stressful to play your parts flawlessly. Knowing that you are running on a clock and others are counting on you makes it even more frustrating.
In all my years as a musician, I have still never found a solution for this problem unless I want to take the route that many musicians have taken and have other people play my parts.
That is very tempting.
But one thing I can recommend is being prepared. The best way to do this is to know what you’re going to play and how you will play it.
It’s a good idea for bands to have a few pre-production rehearsals to figure out exactly how you will play everything. They might talk about what songs they will record first, whether they will be doing a live or musician by musician performance, etc.
They may also discuss effects and parts they will add to the song during recording that they may not have achieved live.
Whether practicing on your own or as a band to get ready for a recording, it’s important to picture yourself in the studio as if you were getting ready to record the parts. This visualization will allow your brain to go through the process and develop useful tips to make things easier for everyone.
Recording Studio Tips: Warm Up
It’s a good idea to warm up before you go into the studio, but not to the point where you are too tired to do your recording.
Guitarists and bassists should do a few scales and exercises, so their fingers won’t feel stiff. Here are some recording studio tips you can use when warming up:
- Always start at a slow tempo and build up. Starting too fast will cause you to strain your fingers.
- Alternate picking (going up and down repeatedly) is crucial.
- You should literally “warm-up” your hands before you start to play. Don’t play when you feel cold, or you might get a cramp.
- Know your scales so you can play up and down.
Drummers may do a couple of paradiddles, and singers may do some vocal scales.
However, no one should play to the point where they are too tired to get a good performance recorded. Vocalists and drummers must be especially careful not to wear themselves out.
The recording process is not easy, but these tips and tricks will help you get a finished product that makes you happy. What do you recommend for getting the best recording possible? Tell us in the comments.
What should I wear to a recording studio?
The recording process can take the better part of the day. Therefore, you will want to wear clothing that is as comfortable as possible.
You will also want to make sure not to wear anything that gets in the way of your playing. For example, bell sleeves or heavy jewelry can obstruct your fingers if you play guitar and drums.
It’s also a good idea to wear layers. That way, you can remove clothing if you get too hot or add layers if you get too cold.
How much does it cost to record an album?
Recording studios usually charge by the hour. Rates vary but are generally in the range of $50 to $500 an hour.
You may get lucky and find a studio that will record your album for a flat rate. A flat rate will help musicians feel less stressed to complete the recording quickly.
The total amount you spend will also depend on your album’s length and how crazy you want to go with it.
Although all these factors make it impossible to put a definite number on what it will cost to record an album, you can generally expect to pay anywhere from $1000 to $4000 in total.
How do you release your first song?
Once you have your recording completed, you may be wondering what to do with it. There are many ways to handle the release of your recording.
Most bands release their music on digital platforms. Many platforms accept digital music, including Spotify, Bandcamp, Reverb Nation, SoundCloud, and more. If you sign up with TuneCore, they will distribute your music to most platforms for a low fee.
Once your music is online, you can sell it to make some of your recording costs back and possibly earn a profit. You can also have people listen to your music just by sending them a link. Sending a link is a convenient way to promote your band.
It’s also a good idea to have your music available in CD form. Even though digital is widespread, there is no substitute for a product you can hold in your hand.
A third option is to shop your music around and see any labels interested in releasing it. While some feel this is the best route, if you don’t have reliable connections, you should be aware that music is a very competitive business, and it could take some time before your piece is just as competitive.