If you have stumbled across this blog post, you more than likely have never been in a recording studio. Before you get all jittery and make a mountain out of a mole hill, fret not and read this informative thread I have compiled for you. This is your ultimate crash course for a really great studio experience for newbies.
Assuming you have not found where you are wanting to track your music and you want to showcase your material at the best quality possible without breaking the bank, here are a few steps and things to do before you lock down who you want to record with and have a successful result.
Do a few keyword searches for “recording studios in my area”. One key thing to look for is reviews. If there are more negative comments than positive or no reviews at all, try to avoid these studios. Also expand your search if you need to. Don’t be afraid to travel 30 minutes to an hour for the best possible experience.
This step is probably the most important step of them all. First let’s look at price. If a recording studio is asking for 80+ dollars an hour not including mixing or mastering, avoid this as a first timer. On the other end of the spectrum, if a studio is at your friend’s uncle’s bedroom at $15 dollars an hour, avoid this as well. You are looking for someone who has years of experience but isn’t so large that you are just in and out like a Walmart customer with no chemistry between you and your engineer. When you speak to these engineers, it’s ok to inform them that you are new to recording. This leads to my next key step in choosing a studio.
Yes! It is okay to ask for a free consultation! If the studio you call doesn’t accept consultations…run far away! So what happens in a consultation? This is where you get to visit the studio, get to know the engineer, and hear their work. You will get to absorb valuable information and be prepared for what could potentially be a long lasting relationship and a great professional experience time after time.
Aside from finding an engineer that has valuable experience, make sure the engineer knows what you are trying to accomplish. Are you an independent artist? Are you a band? How many instruments/vocals tracks are needed to be laid out? Ask your engineer how he records and his process. If you have a drummer in your group, have him practice with a metronome. This is crucial folks! If you are a rap artist, have your beats already emailed to the engineer or on a flash drive before you arrive. Another valuable approach to clicking with your engineer is to provide him with music material you are striving to sound like.
If you are looking to really impress your recording engineer, pre-record your track(s) with your phone at your desired beats per minute with a metronome. Send the engineer your rough track as a .wav or .mp3 and provide the “bpm” you used. You could go an extra step further and write up the skeleton of your track(s) by i.e.: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus and how many measures are in each section of your song(s). If you do all of these steps prior to coming in to record, not only will you impress the engineer, you will shave a ton of time spent in the studio.
Follows these steps to the best of your ability and you will ensure a great experience in the studio for your first time and will pave a bright future for many more recordings to come!