when you record in the studio, make things simple. easy and fast. most of all, don’t waste your money on studio time! here are 10 simple tricks to avoid high costs, nerve wrecking sessions and mediocre final recordings.
1. rehearse the shit out of your material. play it in front of live audiences, tweak, make it perfect, then play it again live as often as possible. tweak some more. then, after hours, days, weeks on tour, months, go and book studio time.
2. don’t book more time than you need. there should be no “we’ll play until it’s good, then go on to the next track”. instead, count on playing no more than 3 takes per song. after that they’re not going to get any better. choose the best version and move on. saves money, lots of money.
3. no “we’ll fix it in the mix”. there’s no such thing. bad quality on the tape is going to be the bad spot of the final mix. fix it right away. play it again! done. next! (this saves not only your nerves, but also the nerves of your engineer. you want to keep them happy, because they are a key factor of the recording quality!) it also keeps momentum in the recording process, which again makes the whole recording, sound and quality more energetic. it will show in the final product!
4. repeat the first recorded song again towards the end of the session. this way you can warm up while already recording when you play the track the first time. you repeat the song when you’re warmed up later in the session and get a more relaxed and energetic atmosphere in the music!
5. 2 days before the studio session, check all your equipment, batteries ok? all cables ok? sound ok? strings good? (don’t start to change strings in the studio! wastes everybody’s time and money!). I say 2 days before, because this gives you another day to fix things, buy batteries etc.
6. day before recording: (my favourite routine) go get some really nice light food to eat in the studio. I prefer italian antipasti, get drinks, some sweets etc. to bring to the studio. don’t forget your engineer! they’re very happy when they get a treat (often even ends in a little discount at the end!). it’s also a nice gesture. you’re invading their workspace for the day, treat them and yourself right. makes all the difference. also, this saves studio time because you don’t overeat on junkfood, which makes you tired and slow.
7. recording day: get up in time (go to sleep in time to be fit!). light breakfast, relax! grab coffee or tee, enjoy the morning, don’t do anything music related. just breathe.
8. make quick decicions in the studio. don’t rush it, of course, but make quick decicions following your instinct. choose the right version fairly quickly and build on it. don’t listen to every track 100 times before making the choice. trust your gut feeling.
9. delete all versions you didn’t choose! why keep tracks you chose not to use? you want to build on the strong tracks, kick the week ones out. they only take up space on tape or harddrives, and they make it really complicated to keep track of what’s what, especially in larger productions.
10. plan the recording process. who’s going to record when? don’t record the saxophone for an hour when the backing singer is already waiting outside for their turn. having to wait around turns people off and takes the edge out of their performance.
bottom line: have your shit together before recording. don’t rush to have a cd in your hands. build your art in front of live audiences and then, when you’re really ready, hit the studio like a thunderstorm. burn down the house. done. next.