If you’re preparing to record your first studio album, you’re probably dealing with a mix of emotions that range from excitement to pure fear. You’re wondering how the final product will turn out and whether people will actually like it.
To ensure the recording process goes smoothly, though, you need to put these feelings on the back burner and prepare yourself in the following ways.
1. Listen to some field recordings of your music.
Sometimes what sounds great live doesn’t work well in the studio. New bands often rehearse in cramped quarters and play in small venues, so chances are band members might have different opinions about how well their parts fit with others. Make some live demo recordings so you can work out the kinks before you get in the studio. You don’t want to waste time and money by changing your parts in the studio.
Recording yourselves will also help you get used to playing when the “record” button is pushed. People tend to tense up with they know they’re being recorded because they know there’s little room for error.
Finally, be sure to give these recordings to your engineer ahead of time. This will provide them with point of reference to follow when working on your album.
2. Answer the following questions.
- Do you want live recordings? If so, you should be prepared to play each song multiple times in a row without tiring or getting burnt out. Practice this in your rehearsal space beforehand.
- Do you expect the recordings to be overdubbed with multiple layers? If so, you should be prepared to record with a click track. You’ll want to practice with a metronome to ensure consistency in pace. This will make editing, overdubbing and punching in-and-out easier for your engineer and better for your overall sound quality.
- Do you fully understand the studio’s policies? Failing to understand the studio’s policies could produce problems later on. For example, some studios allow a free grace period to set up and break down equipment while others start charging right when you get there. Without knowing the rules upfront, you and your engineer could have different budgets in mind.
- How much time and money can you afford to spend? Set a budget for time and monetary expenditures — then multiply both numbers by 1.5. It’s better to overestimate how much time and money you expect to invest in your recording than underestimate it.
3. Elect a project manager.
Although you should always make group decisions to avoid any conflict among band members, when it comes to recording you’ll probably find it beneficial to have a tie breaker vote when you face indecision and other lukewarm feelings. The point isn’t to have somebody be the boss of everyone else but to keep the band focused and on task. The levelheaded person you defer to in these situations should be able to understand how the details you’re working out now will fit into the big picture later on.
4. Make sure all equipment is in perfect working condition.
About a week before you’re set to record, change all strings and drum heads. This will give you enough time to break them in while still ensuring they don’t sound worn. Check amps and pedals for hums because they’ll be much more noticeable in a recording. Be prepared for minor bumps in the road; bring extra strings, batteries and other supplies as necessary to avoid wasting time.
5. Remember to keep an open mind throughout the process.
Not every band is the same, nor every recording studio, nor every project. What works for one band might not work for another. At times you might have to just go with the flow and make quick decisions. However, the better you prepare yourself now, the more confident you’ll feel when you’re in the studio recording your first studio album.
Danielle Rodabaugh is an online marketing specialist for SuretyBonds.com, a surety bond insurance company. She also manages online branding and PR for We Live In Public (an electrified folk/pop/rock band based out of Columbia, Missouri). Check out more articles on the Dotted Music website.