Sunday, June 19, 2011

Preparing For The Studio

So you’ve finally saved up the money to record your masterpiece. You’ve found the perfect producer that “gets you” and you’ve set the date to start recording. Life is good! Now what?  You know there is more to it. But what is it that you should be doing from now until your project starts? Do the people who make amazing albums just get lucky? No they don’t.  Being prepared means everything. Football player and Super Bowl champion Ronde Barber has this to say, 

"There is no such thing as luck. Bounces go either way.  Every day you have to take advantage of those situations. You call it luck and I call it being prepared”.

Here is a quick list of things that you need to be doing.

Make sure that your band is rehearsing like crazy
It’s simple.  The more time you spend on your songs the more you will know your parts and the tighter they will be.  As a producer, if I have a band that knows their parts and can play their instruments I can move on to helping them make the song better instead of being bogged down by sorting through a jumbled mess.

Pre-production is key
Keeping in touch with your producer and making sure that all agree on the album game plan will be huge in helping you make the most of your time. Elements like song structure, tempo, song key and song selection can and should be worked out before hand.  Every album and every situation is different, but this should be kept as a general rule.

Keep writing songs
Just because you’ve set a recording date doesn’t mean you should stop writing. Matter of fact, it means just the opposite! Great albums have great songs, so try to beat out what you already have.

Attention guitar players
Change your strings a week before you come to the studio.  New strings stretch and can cause some serious tuning issues, plus the tone isn’t the greatest right out of the package. If you forget and its last minute yank on the strings (Within reason.  Don’t break anything) to stretch them out.  Wipe your hands up and down the strings (get some of the oil off your hands on it) and leave it out of the case overnight.This will help speed up the pace of wearing in your strings.  Drummers should also change their drum heads well before its time to record.

Do you have an “oh no bag”?
This is the bag that saves your life.  The contents should include a tuner, extra stings, cables, picks of all sizes, tools, and amp tubes. Drummers should have an extra snare, sticks, heads, etc.

Squeaks and squawks
There have been many a session delayed by a squeaky kick pedal or a rattle in the back of a guitar amp. Go through your gear and if you find something let the producer know ahead of time. That way if a new amp or pedal needs to be found there is time to beg, steal or borrow another one.

Girlfriends and friends are not invited
Be a professional. If your not serious about what you’re doing then nobody else will be either. Keep the hang outs outside of the studio. If people want to drop in with lunch and chat for a second then fine, but anything more than that is counter productive.

Sometimes what we all need to do is nothing! Give yourself some time to recharge before you hit the studio. Fresh ears and a clear head are priceless.
I know musicians and football players don’t usually mix but I think Ronde is right on with this one. It is all about being prepared!

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