Whether recording an album or simply putting together a demo to shop songs around, entering the recording studio is a quintessential step for any professional songwriter. But studio time can be expensive. Without a plan, your limited time in the studio will very quickly slip away from you with little to show for it. Thankfully, there are simple measures that can be taken to help you make the most of every minute you have in the studio.
The following are 5 easy ways to turn your recording sessions from a nightmare to one of the most beneficial events in your songwriting career:
1. Prepare studio versions of your songs
There is a big difference between the studio version of a song and the version of that same song you use to perform live. Before you enter the studio, you should sketch out the songs and arrangements, making sure each is a tight and succinct representation of the song you've written. Not only will this save you time in the studio, but this is especially important if you are attempting to write music to be shopped for licensing and/or sync opportunities.
Believe it or not, someone has to listen to all of the music they are sent to determine if it is right for their project. If you record some open ended, 7-minute sloppy mess, you can be sure your song will be looked over.
2. Set goals for studio time
We've already determined that it is to your benefit to make sure you're optimizing the precious little amount of time you've got within the studio, and setting goals for your studio time is quite possibly the most important way to do this.
This will help you to take a step back and forget about trying to shoot for recording everything in your repetuiar in a single day's session. Pick one or two tracks to work on for a day (or 2 days) and then make a 'what if' plan should you actually get both songs done with extra time. It is amazing how many artists think they'll be able to pull off 10 songs in a day - even though a song may only be three minutes only, it could take three hours (or far more) to record.
3. Take your tracks to a professional for the mastering process
Although mixing may be able to be done within a recording studio, mastering is a very specialized skill and should be approached separately from the recording process. The idea here is that by taking the mastering out of the equation for your limited studio time, even if you are offered mastering by the studio or engineer, you are focusing in one what is important - achieving your goals in the recording process.
This may not be the most inexpensive option, but you will see far better results for the investment you put in than you would trying to get everything done at one time.
4. Don't forget to eat!
This one isn't a glamorous suggestion, but it is one of the most critical steps to success. Maintaining a healthy diet is an incredibly important part of a good performance and a high-quality recording. Eat a solid breakfast before you begin and your final product will shine because of it.
5. Choose the right studio
Studios and their engineers typically work with a certain style or selection of styles of music, which will greatly influence the ultimate sound style and direction of the recordings. This is something you need to greatly consider before picking a studio, as a studio known for classical work won't do you any good when recording a hip-hop song. Likewise, a studio that mainly works with electronic productions will be a poor environment to record a selection of acoustic-folk songs.
What tips do you suggest for songwriters trying to make the most of their next recording session?
Please leave us any and all suggestions in the form of a comment below so that we can all be sure to make the most of our next recording project.