Being ready for the studio/recording

Throughout the years I have been in many different studio environments, both as an artist/performer and as an engineer. From experience, I can tell you that being prepared for a home studio project or a big production can make all the difference.
What follows may seem like common sense pointers, but I have witnessed both beginners and pros alike miss these essential steps:

· First, there are the instruments you are using. Be prepared - do not wait until you are at the studio and the record button is being pressed to start preparation.
Make sure that guitars/basses or anything with strings has new strings, is setup, and intonated properly. Tune between every take using the same tuner for everything.
If your instrument is electric, make sure nothing is buzzing, If the output jack cuts out, and or any other issue get it fixed before going to the studio.
With drums, make sure everything has new heads and is tuned. Even more importantly, make sure nothing is rattling on the kit. If your kick pedal squeaks, fix it before you begin.
Vocalists should bring either honey or throat spray.
For keyboards/synths and computers, make sure all cables are functioning and nothing is humming or cutting out.

· Second is practice and being prepared as an artist/performer and as a collective band. Have all parts down and practice everything to a metronome. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Lyrics should be written down to prevent the occurrence of a lyric being said one way (not the right way), and the entire band debating this while the clock is running. The tighter you are the tighter the recording will be. My mantra is that a good musician, good instrument, good song and a good engineer that can capture the magic and will always make an awesome recording.”

· Third are good and bad habits. If some tracks have already been recorded or you have done pre-production, make sure you are bringing it on a few different forms of media. Bring your tracks on a flash drive and also have a DVD backup too. Also, discuss with the studio beforehand what format is needed for what you are bringing, and never forget you can’t go wrong with a High Res Wav format.
Never assume the studio will be able to open your Logic/FL/Mixcraft or any other session files - there are too many software options these days for any studio to be able to have everything.

· Before you invite your friends and/or significant other, remember that the studio can be rather boring and even more so for a non-musician. The more people you bring, will mean the more distractions for both you and the studio staff. Don’t forget the old saying of too many hands in the pot. Instead of bringing everyone, why not take pictures and video and use this as promo material to help build some hype for the new recording being released?

· Last but not least, everyone wants to party like a rockstar. Before you bring endless booze or any other mind-altering substance, remember those famous bands that have stories about this, also had very big budgets. If they lost a few days to being messed up, it was not the end of the world. However, you are spending your hard-earned money and time for this and at the average rate of $50 to $100 an hour, I am going to guess you would not want to waste a day or two. Also be aware that some things like alcohol will actually affect your hearing and take away a lot of your higher-end hearing. So if you drink and play sloppy, and then tell the engineer that your amp sounds muddy and to turn all the highs up, now you have sloppy and thin sounding tracks. Maybe just hold off on the partying until all your parts are done.

The bottom line is the more prepared you are and the more confident you are in your ability the more laid back you will be and the better performance you will give.
Being comfortable with the whole process and also picking a studio and engineer you trust well help with all of this. Remember you are going to be spending a lot of time bringing a project from the start to the final product. Never overlook the small details - it’s those details that will make your recording and performance stand out from the rest.

Please feel free to forward this to anyone that it may help.
And if you have any points to add or any questions, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,
Michael J Friedman

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