Making The Best Of Your Studio Time
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OUT OF YOUR RECORDING TIME
Many of the artists we work with ask us a lot of the same questions, typically involving ways to make the process easier, faster, and/or cheaper. There are tons of ways to accomplish all three of these things. So in this post, we will go over some ways to make your experience at Blue Light Digital Sound as great as it can possibly be.
Let’s start with some of the big money savers because at the end of the day, who doesn’t like saving a few bucks?
1: Punctuality is key
First up, be on time. The clock starts at the time your session is booked for, not when you walk in, being late only means paying for time that could be used for tracking. It is important to remember that being on time and being early are two different things. Arriving early (unless otherwise told by the engineer) will not necessarily mean extra time for your session. All sessions are made by appointment, and showing up early may disrupt someone else’s session or mean you’re stuck waiting outside. There are some exceptions to this rule: sometimes your engineer will ask you to come early so we can get everything set up and begin working immediately at the start of your booked time.
2: Have Mastery of the Material
Make sure everyone in the band knows the material like the back of their wonderful hands. Spending time reviewing the sequence of chords or the rhythm of a section is the fastest way to burn 30 minutes. Even if a quick review is all that is needed, the act of review negatively impacts your confidence in your playing, which means we will most likely need several takes of the section. The best way to avoid a situation like this and reduce the time needed to record is to make sure each band member is capable of playing their respective part completely on their own.
3: Practicing as a Band to a Click
Everyone in the band should be practicing together and everyone should be playing together to a click (metronome). This is the part when someone says, “Well our material is really feel-based with a lot of tempo changes we don’t really do clicks.” There is nothing wrong with this but many times, outside of Jazz and Jam bands, a simple tempo map programmed with tempo changes can do wonders. We are happy to help your band with these if you are unsure on how to make them, all you have to do is ask. Everyone wants their music to sound as tight as possible, and being able to utilize a click is the best way to make sure this goal is accomplished.
3.5: How To Play To A Click
Never played to a click? That’s fine! it’s very easy to learn. Spend the weeks leading up to your studio time playing to a click. If you have a smart phone there are tons of great free apps if not there are tons of them online for free (my favorite is http://www.metronomeonline.com, and in case you’re unsure about a song’s tempo, here is a tap tempo: http://www.all8.com/tools/bpm.htm. The internet sure is wonderful!). It may not be easy at first but stick with it. After about two weeks of practice everyday for at least 20 mins you’ll be a pro and you will have improved your playing dramatically!
4: Come With Completed Material
Have the material completed! Writing in the studio can be fun, in fact we encourage experimentation, however the song itself should at the very least be finished. Confusing? What I mean by this is have all your lyrics, parts, and arrangement completed before you walk through the door. Then, if while tracking, you see a pedal you like or have an idea you want to try, you can experiment. It’s okay to experiment when you have your original part to fall back on if this spur of the moment idea does not work out.
5: If You Hear Something, Say Something (It can save lives)
Not only was number 5 my favorite Kid Next Door, but it is also my favorite tip. It is our goal to capture your vision and make it as great as possible. If you hear something you do not like, please tell us immediately. If you wait until later it may be too late to fix it or result in costly re-dos.
Tips for a Smoother Session
Now that all the money saving tips are out of the way, let’s talk about ways to make the session run smoothly and easily. In addition to this list, there are many ways to make things go smoothly but we are going to cover the basics(I need to save material for other blog posts).
1: Eh I’m just doing this for fun it, doesn’t matter
This first tip and possibly most important is to take your project seriously! You’re spending money on this. The more pride you take in it the better it will come out, even if it is just for fun.
2: Can I Bring My Friends?
Yes, definitely! However, try to limit the number people you bring to your session. If they do not have anything constructive to add then they do not need to be there. Often times extra people end up distracting you from what you are there to do.
Clearly communicate your project goals to the engineer before you book your session. There is a significant difference between recording a demo to give out to a few friends and something you intend on selling for profit. Discuss your goals and budget so everyone is on the same page.
4: Proper Instrument Maintenance
I can not stress this one enough! Make sure your instrument is set up properly. Whether it be a guitar, drum set, your voice, or that random “whatcha-ma-call-it that’s been sitting in your basement for the past few years that might just sound cool in this one part.” For the guitar players make sure you get your guitar set up and intonated by a professional the week of your session. Drummers, if you are not using our house kit, make sure you not only have new heads on your shells but that they are also the correct heads tuned properly. Singers/Rappers/Screamers, your voice is your instrument if you are sick or lost your voice reschedule your session, you won’t be happy with your takes and neither will we. As for the random instruments, if it doesn’t sound great why would you want it in your recording?
5: Does This Sound Out To You?
When in doubt tune…that’s it for this one.
6: One Take Wonders
Don’t be afraid to punch in or use something that you don’t own. No one needs to know you punched in your verse every few bars or used a different guitar than the one you own, and frankly NO ONE CARES! The guy listening to your CD and coming to your show is not going to notice the differences in your amp and the one you used here. No one will notice you cut out a word to take a breath live. Getting the best take possible needs to be the priority.
7: Trust is the most important part of any relationship
Trust your engineer. If they ask you to try something or use a different piece of gear it is not based on some irrational bias or hatred we have towards whatever it is we want you to change. We ask you to change things from a professional standpoint. It’s our goal to achieve the best sound possible and sometimes we know the best way to get there.
8: Have Fun