First time in the studio? Here are 8 pre-production tips to help get you ready.
Updated: Jul 1, 2018
So what is pre-production? Well, pre-production is everything you want to plan out and have done before you head into the studio. It is also a very important part in making sure the arrangement of the song is correct.
For me, I find the studio is such a magical place! Whether it is recording my own music or I am working on a clients project. I find it fascinating watching the creative process of musical dreams coming to life.
However, for some people, coming into the studio for the first time can feel a little intimidating or uncomfortable. Sitting in a room with an engineer/producer that you hardly know, going over and over parts in a song that could take hours on end to get right, can be quite daunting.
Not only are you wasting time by doing this, you are wasting money, which will most likely be coming from your pocket.
So here are some simple steps that should help you better prepare yourself for your first time recording in a studio.
1. Hi there!
One of the first things you should be thinking about before heading into the studio, is communicating with your engineer/producer. Start a discussion with them and try to give them a clear understanding what it is you are trying to achieve with your music. Depending on what type of music you are playing and what style you are going for, will affect the way in which the engineer/producer will approach it. So well before you head into the studio, start thinking about making contact with the engineer/producer and making some sort of plan.
2. Be over rehearsed
The last thing you want in the studio is to be wasting hours at a time going over parts of a song that you should know. You want to get in and get the job done with as little takes as possible. By doing this you will save yourself time and money. So be well rehearsed and well prepared before you head into the studio. Practice, practice, practice!!
3. The Gear
Now when I say gear, I'm not talking about expensive instruments and amps, although these are nice it is not a necessity to making a great album. I'm talking about the little things, like making sure your instruments are set up correctly, in tune and have fresh strings. For drummers, put new drum heads on and making sure they are tuned well. Some studios will have their own kit and suggest using theirs if your own kit is not up to scratch. Most studios these days will have some selection of good guitar amps or an array of amp plugins and simulators.
4. Listen to your demos
Record some demos well before you hit the studio. It may be as simple as a recording done on your phone or a single microphone in the room while you or your band plays. Then go and listen. The idea here is that after a while of you listening back to these demos you may come up with some more creative ideas about the song. It may be that you want to change the arrangement slightly, change the tempo or completely sing the chorus differently, you get the idea. The main thing is that you want to have all of these parts of your songs sorted out well before you head into the studio.
If you are going for a particular style or sound and you have some reference material similar, bring it along for the engineer/producer to listen to. It will help them understand what you are going for and it will be a much quicker process than you trying to explain to them in person.
6. Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll
Ahh, the glitz and glamor of being a rock star! Sorry kids but times have changed! Gone are the days when labels were paying you big bucks for to sit around in the studio for weeks or months on end getting wasted and recording hit albums. These days time is money and you want to be making the most of your time in the studio making music. I'm not saying you cant have a drink but you never going to perform at you best if you are wasted. So save the good times for after.
7. Money, money, money
It is also a good idea to to start talking to the engineer/producer about payment. let them know what your budget is and find out how they charge. Will it by the hour? By the day? Or by per song? You will most likely find that they will be needing a deposit before you start as well and then the remainder to be paid before you finish or the project is released.
8. Be humble
This one is not specifically aimed at pre-production but for life in general. It should go without saying but being humble will go a long way. Spending time in a confined environment for days on end with different personalities can be testing. But if you can put your differences aside and learn to all work together it will make the project run so much more smoothly.