Before You Come to the Studio to Record an Album…

Many potential clients ask me the same questions before they come into the studio to work on their albums or EPs:

What should I do to prepare myself to make a great recording?

Should I record a demo myself first?

I almost always answer the questions with more questions:

1.  Why do you want to make a recording?

Is it to get gigs?  Sell at gigs?  Try to get licensing for TV or movies? Is it to finally hear the music the way that you hear it in your head? Is it to document your songs accurately to the way you play them or is it to fully realize the full arrangements with drum, bass, strings, urdu?

2.  Who is the audience of the recording?

Record label executives  or your friends and fans?  Are you the audience for your own music or are you trying to sell this stuff?  Are you planning on giving it away as a promotional tool to help build your following?

3.  Are you ready to record in a studio now or do you want to demo the songs to figure out how they should be arranged and performed?

Usually demoing the songs yourself will help you figure out what you haven’t practiced enough, and force you to think about the dynamics and the tempos and the form in a way that you haven’t already.  I always want artists to know the tempos of the songs before they come to the studio.  If they can bring lyric sheet with chord changes that also really helpful as well.

If you have a way to record yourself, I would always do at least some recording yourself to help you figure out what you are trying to do.  The recording equipment can be very simple, like GarageBand, a 4-Track or 8-Track cassette or digital recorder, or something a little more sophisticated like a full-blown DAW like Sonar, Logic,  Cubase or ProTools.

After you have had a chance to record simple versions of the tunes with piano or guitar and voice, then you can think about adding other instruments in a much more concrete way.  Some music might start with a drum pattern or loop and build from there.

After you you have done all this pre-production, it will be time to start talking to a good producer or engineer to help really get the recording process planned and started.  As a engineer, it’s much easier for me to do my job when the music is more fully formed before I start my work.  As a producer, I like to be involved in the music process as early as possible so I can help to shape the form, dynamics and feel of the song while the song writing is in process.

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