Being in a recording studio is such a therapeutic experience, most artists would live in it if they had the chance. The energy you find in a good recording studio with a professional team, a warm environment and a creative atmosphere is definitely unmatched. Even non-artists can find joy in being in the studio and watching creativity come to life. (Checklist for all First timers)
That being said, there are some unwritten rules and some etiquette that must be followed to ensure that the studio experience is enjoyable for all involved. However, this is your first time in the studio, so who can expect you to know these rules? Fear not, because in this guide we have prepared for you the first experience of a professional recording studio!
Booking a session is often your first impression with an engineer or studio manager. It’s important to make sure they hate you before you even show up. When you call or email the studio, keep a few date/time options in mind in case your first choice is already booked. Talk to the engineer about what you plan to do and explain that this is your first time.
Most engineers are very understanding and work with newbies every day. Explain to her what you plan to do in the studio, whether you want to record just one song, just some guitar parts or a whole project. The studio may have some booking options you didn’t know about or some form of bulk purchase discount. (Checklist for all First timers)
Prepare your payment
Most studios are non-profit and need money to keep the lights on and pay the engineers. You should be prepared to pay at least 1000rs/hour for a quality recording. You might get lucky and find a really good studio that charges less, but most professional studios start around that figure.
Come With a Purpose
You ordered a studio to do some work. The studio should be a fun place, but at the end of the day you have to do your job. Your job is to make music. It’s easy to get distracted by all the cool gadgets and plaques on the wall, or playing the drums for 45 minutes, even if you’re not a drummer. Focus on your goals.
If you’ve booked a session to get a reference or demo, don’t deal with things you plan to replace later anyway.(Checklist for all First timers)
Sometimes you go into the studio not knowing what you plan to create. This is a strategy for you after you have been in the studio multiple times and are comfortable in the space. Don’t do it for the first time. You already have your song written or at least mostly done.(Checklist for all First timers)
Usually, when you book a recording studio, you have all the studio equipment at your disposal. This means you can have as many sessions as you want within reason. If you want to record in a control room (the room the engineer sits in) instead of a live room or vocal booth, the studio will be happy to accommodate that if you ask. If you can’t perform well because your throat is dry, ask if you have any water to drink.
The studios are equipped for maximum comfort in most situations. Studio owners know that in order for artists to get the best recordings, they need to be as comfortable as possible. That’s why studios usually offer water and snacks, different lighting options, thermostat control, and smoking areas. Usually studios have a lot of session musicians and producers so if you think you need a specific instrument or style on your track, and played by a professional then you can ask the studio to source a musician or producer. (Checklist for all First timers)
Most songs today are around 3 minutes. That doesn’t mean it takes 3 minutes to record a song. On average, it takes 2-3 hours to record songs that are not too complex. Most artists don’t record their songs all at once, some claim they do (and are probably lying) and a very select few actually do. Even those who record for one shot will not get the footage they want on the FIRST shot.
Plus, it can take weeks to mix tracks. Mixing is basically the process of making all the parts of a song sound right together. The technician will likely send you home with a “rough mix”, which is basically something you should refer to before the mixing process begins. You shouldn’t expect to have a radio mix ready in an hour or two. (Checklist for all First timers)
Don't force it
Sometimes things sound perfect in your head and you put together a plan to record everything and when it all comes together it doesn’t sound nearly as good as it does in your head. This happens to most artists all the time. It’s important to know when to move on from a bad idea. Also related to that…
Chill - The thing will go wrong
Things usually don’t go exactly as you expect. You might not be able to hit that one note, or it might take 15 to get a guitar solo you like. It is important to anticipate that things will go wrong and have methods in place to avoid frustration. Allow enough time to allow for imperfections, sanity pauses, and vocal rests. It’s alright! Each of your favorite artists had a bad day in the studio for their own performance. That’s just part of being an artist!
Prepare a reference
Even if it’s just a voice memo on your phone, have something ready to refer to when you can’t remember exactly what the text you wrote sounds like. This can save you HOURS in the studio. Practice your songs before you record them! Hearing them out loud can help identify potential problems or ways to improve them. (Checklist for all First timers)
Know your limits
I’m not here to judge. Some people say they produce their best material when they’re on alcohol or drugs. If that’s the case for you, that’s okay. What is wrong is to do too much of your vice and stop being productive. If you’re too drunk to speak your lyrics or too high to stay on the beat, you’re just sabotaging yourself and wasting money.
The technician gets paid no matter how much you do so they won’t stop you from wasting time because it means you have to book again and waste even more time. Like I said before, it’s not a party, it’s work.
Speaking of not being a party person, don’t overdo it. If someone isn’t contributing in some way to the creation of the song, they shouldn’t be in the studio when it’s time to create. Recording a song is a very vulnerable, intimate situation. Some people prefer to have no one in the studio but themselves and the engineer. Others, on the other hand, need confirmation or rejection of trusted opinions in the room. If someone is supposed to be in the room, make sure they are supposed to be there otherwise they are just wasting money! To join a Sound engineering course in India join Gray Spark Audio Academy- colleges that offer sound engineering and music production.
(Checklist for all First timers)