If you're an indie artist I'm sure there is a part of you that can't wait to get into the studio, right? Here are a few tips for you to be able to slay your session!
My first time in the studio was terrifying and it took me almost three hours to sing a five minute song. My second time in the studio, I was so nervous that I cried and my teary voice could be heard on the recording...so I had to do the same song again, lol.
1. Practice and Master Your Song
Practice really does make perfect...or more efficient. The studio is not the time to actually practice how you want to record a song. Walk into the studio ready. Keep in mind that time is money. You will be paying for every hour you are in the studio. I made the mistake of thinking that my paid time did not begin until I was actually in front of the microphone, and that wasn't the case. We do this for ministry, but there is always business side.
Have a plan of how you would like for your song to go. After wasting a lot of money and time, I now have rehearsals with my producer and vocal coach way before I ever go into the studio. For me, I like to have a general idea of everything I want to do in the studio from the main vocals to adlibs...you name it. Sometimes, I will even write this down so I don't forget. There isn't a rule that says you can't take paper with you - do what makes you feel comfortable.
If you have folks singing background make sure they are well rehearsed as well. Depending on your engineer, your background will be, "stacking," or singing each line several times. The engineer and/or producer will generally want them to sing their parts exactly the same.
If you have musicians, they too will need to be well rehearsed. Sure, your producer may ask them to do different things when they get to the studio, but should not be learning your song at the studio.
2. Be Prepared
I know that being prepared sounds the same as being practiced, but they are different in this situation. Make sure that you walk into the studio prepared for what is going to take place. In a studio situation there may be a number of people. Two of the most important people are the Engineer, the person who is actually recording the session, and the Producer, the person who cultivates the sound. Sometimes, they are the same person, sometimes there is more than one person, but this gives you an idea.
Be prepared in knowing what you need to bring with you to the studio. Make sure you have already paid for your session or you have your money ready to hand to them ( it depends on their payment policy). If you will be using musicians to create your music, a conversation needs to be had with the engineer prior to your session. The Engineer will need to know the instruments that will need to be recorded. Sometimes studios are equipped for a full band to record, other times a separate location will be used for live instruments.
If you are using a track, send that to the Engineer in the requested format before your studio session so they know what they are working with. They usually want it in a WAV file, but find out.
3. Take Your Best Into the Studio
This could have been listed under number one, but I felt it should be highlighted. When I say to take your best into the studio, I'm talking about those that are supporting the project. Your background vocalists and musicians. You may have a group of people that sing and play for you on ministry engagements - but this doesn't mean that that should go into the studio with you. You will need to determine if they are ready to be in the studio. Remember, that every minute in the studio is costing your pockets money, so take your best.
This is the time when you will need to wear both your ministry and business hat. If your best friend sings back up for you on engagements but they are not great with being able to hold their note they probably aren't who you need to take into the studio.
If you find yourself in the situation where you don't feel like your support staff is ready, consider hiring professional singers and musicians who are used to being in the studio. It actually may save you money in the long run.
4. Be Prompt
Your session begins at the time you schedule. If you arrive late, it doesn't matter, you have paid for that time. Make sure that you and everyone that is supposed to be recording arrives on time. Better yet, arrive EARLY.
5. Be Rested
Believe it or not, rest will affect your sound. When I recorded my first single, "Here I Am," my grandmother had unexpectedly passed away. So, I arrived at my studio session three hours after spending nearly eleven hours in a car driving from Ohio. I was tired, emotionally drained, and my voice literally quivered during much of my session. My poor engineer had to work overtime to try and fix my vocal mistakes.
6. Be Flexible
I know you're thinking, "Girl, you just said practice, how am I supposed to be flexible too?" Easy, sometimes magic happens when you let yourself go in the studio. Walk in with a plan, but don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone too. One of my favorite recording experiences so far was recording, "Hallelujah." Because I walked into the studio ultra prepared I was able to do that song in almost one take and it left a bunch of time for my producer and I to create some magic and help add some ,"stank," on the song with spontaneous changes.
7. Leave Your Ego At the Door
Leave your ego at the door. The worst thing an artist can do is be disrepectful in the studio. The Engineer and Producer are best friends. There is so much that happens after the session that can literally make or break your song. You want people be on your side and create a masterpiece.
Trust me, you don't know everything and you won't always hear what will be magic. So, check your ego. You will love yourself for it later
8. Surround Yourself with Those You Are Comfortable With
If you don't have a problem with a lot of people being in the studio with you, then this won't be a problem for you. I learned early on that I only want a small number of people with me. The studio setting can be a vulnerable place...you will hear your voice in a way that you never have before and you will only want people in there that will champion your efforts while coaching you to greatness.
This doesn't mean that EVERYONE has a say. I am one of those people who only allows my producer, engineer, and vocal coach (if he is there) to really coach me through a session. If there are others in the room (usually there are not), I don't look to them to give me guidance. That's just me.
9. Sing Out During Sound Check
Sing out during the sound check. The Engineer will be checking for many things that I don't even understand yet, but definitely for the high points of your voice. I have found that because my voice is so high, certain notes may make the microphones peak. Basically, that's taking the microphone to it's highest point, where the sound becomes distorted. That isn't a pleasant sound, it doesn't matter how beautiful your voice is, lol.
If your engineer asks for you do a sound check then sing the highest and sometimes loudest moment of your song. This will save you time in needing to re-record.
10. Minister While You Record
Even the studio session is a produced sound, keep in mind that you are ministering through your music. Don't be so caught up that you forget that. After all, that is what is all about.
Sound Off! I'm sure there is more that can be on this list. Do you have any additional tips?
l am a little nerdy, a little quirky, a little glam, with a whole lot of personality! A wife with four children and a furry puppy, there is never a dull moment.