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Recording Your Music: 'Be Prepared'

"Recording Your Music"  Part 2 'Be Prepared!'

By Eric Tunison, Owner of Groove Tunes Studios www.groovtunes.com

This is the second of five articles in the series “Recording Your Music!”.  In this installment we will discuss how to prepare for your recording session. –ET

Selecting a studio that’s right for you.  (They’re not all the same.)  

Now that you’ve decided to have a professional recording made you will need to decide where to go to get it done.  Most musicians choose studios located close to their homes.  Atlanta residents have a multitude of choices.  A recent search of “Recording Studios” for the greater Atlanta area on www.kudzu.com brought up 298 hits!  You can enter your zip code on this site and then search “by distance” from your home.  Better yet, sort the list “by rating”, find the highest rated studios close to your home, and go from there.  Call a few studios and talk to their owner or chief engineer about your project and try to get a feel for whether you think there’s a fit.  Ask what types of music the studio specializes in.  The engineer should know music just as much as he understands how his studio works.

These days 99% of all music is recorded digitally – gone are the days of reel-to-reel analog tape decks.  You should ask the studio if they use the digital ProTools HD recording system, which is the industry standard.  Avoid falling into the trap of asking about costs until after you have visited with your prospective engineer and toured the facility in person.  You should have an overall budget in mind but try to remain flexible on pricing as each project is different.  Your engineer should be able to provide an overall cost estimate after you’ve met with him.  Be prepared to answer basic questions that your engineer may have to help him estimate the costs, including:  What Genre Is Your Music, How Many Songs Will You Be Recording, How Many Band Members Are There, What Instruments Will Be Recorded, Approximately How Many Tracks per Song are Expected, How Many Vocals and Backup Vocals per Song, and Will You Need the Studio to Provide Any Session Musicians?  Groove Tunes Studios is one studio that many local musicians in the greater Atlanta area have come to know and trust.  Find out more at www.groovetunes.com or call Eric Tunison at 770-842-5511.

Be Prepared, all Boy Scouts and Recording Musicians!

Once you’ve selected your studio and have scheduled a recording date you will need to prepare for your session.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Before you arrive at the studio:

  • If possible, record your songs during live gigs or at rehearsals, and then listen to them.  This is where those Open Mic live performance CDs come in handy!  Determine whether there are weak spots in the song or performance and fix those before your session date.
  • Have all the instrumental and vocal parts worked out, and rehearse your guitar solos!
  • Check with the studio in advance for equipment compatibility when in doubt.
  • Practice to a click track or metronome during pre-production rehearsals!  Each musician should practice alone to the click, and then together as a group.  Most rock and pop music is recorded one track at a time, one instrument at a time, so know how to play your parts to the click track.  Being able to do just this much well will save a ton of time and money on your project.  You should be able to play your part exactly the same way, every time.  
  • Rehearse more songs than you plan to record.  There might be a technical or performance problem with a particular song when you arrive at the studio, so it’s always a good idea to have a backup song or two.
  • Change your guitar strings two or three days before the session.  It’s best if they are just a few days old and not so new that they are still stretching out.
  • Know your lead guitar solos!  I know this is a repeat.  It’s important.
  • Prepare lead sheets for the songs you plan to record.  Lead sheets are helpful to the engineer and musicians and they make your sessions go smoother.  Lead sheets are typed pages containing all the song lyrics with the chords typed or written above the words where each chord changes.  Lead sheets should also notate the number of measures and chords for intros, instrumental solos, and other instrumental portions.  The lead sheet is the road map for the recording session.
  • Take care of your body before your recording sessions.  Eat well, get enough sleep, and keep your ears rested.

 

In the next article we will discuss what to do and what to expect the day of your recording session. – ET