This article is basically for those who have not been in the studio but aspire to. That being said, some others besides the novice may still gain some useful insight from this. So, you're encouraged to read on. In this article, I'm here to help out by providing some of the necessary pieces of information just to help you in making out the best that you can as you make your first trip to a recording studio for your musical track recording.
In the music recording studio, you have your music producer, the audio engineer, and the session men which may include the hired instrumentalists and vocalists depending on the very production that you are into. You may still come around with some dudes to contribute their own inputs into your new songs. All these sum up to a number of head counts, whose time value may be considered more precious than just yours alone. To waste this moment then means more than wasting just the duration of the studio session instead, that of the studio multiplied by the number of people in there for the recording. To help maximize your time utility in the studio, here are some tips.
Have a basic knowledge of music
By basic knowledge about music, I don't mean that you should enroll in a music school for definitions and rudiments of music. But if you have a lot of time at your disposal, with no other commitment, going for such is not bad but it's not encouraged as a requirement for a successful studio session. On the other hand, if singing is your profession and you hope to take it higher, such enrollment is a nice option but that is not the purpose of this write up.
Most of the things needed are natural instincts and they are readily available to those that really understand music. The extent to which it can be interpreted and expressed is what makes a good music. An understanding of rhythm will not only help to save you time in the studio but also helps you get the best out of your song.
Rhythm is an element of music that sees to the actual synchronization of both the instrumental arrangements and the vocal renditions in time-based patterns that define your song. Understand this and you will be able to flow in line with your song even when, in your song, the producer changes the pattern which you may have practiced with (for better output).
Pitch is another necessity. This deals with the frequency at which a unit of sound vibrates or the height or depth of a given sound unit. When you understand pitches as they relate to songs, you stand a better chance of improving your song. Your producer invariably directs you on how to render your song but if you are not pitch conscious, you may find it difficult to get what he wants in that regard and he'll lose patience. This in turn may limit your outcome.
Pitch having been discussed, another is harmony. This is no other thing rather than the togetherness of sounds that occur at the same time. The knowledge of harmony helps you to colour your songs properly but without that, you may end up rendering the melodic line of your song in another key when there is need for harmony. It then makes a mess of your song.
Melody can not be left out. Melody seems to have been the first thing to consider but then it is taken for granted that any person that sings has the melodic understanding of songs. Good sense of melody will not only help you make a good composition but above all, it will inspire your producer and induce others to contribute positively to your music. It's therefore beneficial to develop thorough melodic sense before going for recording.
There are a lot that a singer should consider like musical expressions using ornaments that help to convey moods, but for the purpose of this write up, I won't be going further.
Get prepared before going to studio for the session
Studio recording session is not actually a time to compose and arrange your songs rather, a time to render what had been composed, arranged and thoroughly rehearsed over time. Doing the composition right in the recording session will not only waste your time, but it may also make your composition less than ideal as you rush it. It doesn't provide you with relaxed mind set for composition. You won't like to go back from the studio without a copy of your recorded material either on CD or mp3. As such, you may rush the composition so as to make the recording (for which you are there) and probably go with a copy even when it's not yet properly mixed.
Know exactly how the studio operates (different studios operate differently)
While making the choice of which studio to spend your session in, it is very important to find out exactly how that your prospective studio operates. You may have asked around. You may have also formed certain inclination over how a studio should operate based on the answers you got. But then, remember that every studio must not do what you expect. Besides, there's no general constitution that defines how each business unit must run. There are different standards to which each company and or business outfit tries to maintain.
You may enquire about their strictness to time, as it regards the session duration. While some studios run session booking, others prefer contract-based operation and some still combine the two. It then comes down to the choice of the client. While some studios may offer to work on your song after you are gone (outside the session paid for), I bet you, other studios will be very strict and won't even allow you to burn out a disk outside your paid session.
The knowledge of how the studio operates will eventually help you to achieve the best in your recording. Take for instance that one of your new songs is required to go on air by 10 AM tomorrow and you are in the studio this day to make the song. To maximize your time utility, you decide to record two songs within the session bearing in mind that the studio will edit the work and get it ready while you are at home. You can then come back and pick it up around 8.AM for submission. At the end of the session, you find out that you've eventually succeeded in recording two songs but they are not yet mixed. You ask the producer to get it ready, that you'll like to collect it around 8AM next day. He then replies that your session is over and can't just work on your song outside your paid session. There's no other budget for further spending on this recording. You might have spent first half of the session to record the very song needed on air and left the second half of the session for the producer with the audio engineer to get your work ready. You now lose the airing opportunity because of lack of understanding of the studio's mode of operation. Plan your self especially with enough information and you make out the best for yourself.
Choose the right people to work with
Studio is a unit, set of producers is another unit and audio engineers yet another. The studio's mode of operation, to an extent, determines how your work may be handled but you can make a better choice if you are informed. In a typical commercial studio, there may be different producers with varying levels of production skills. Some may as well be equiped with audio engineering skills. Some may be better at certain types of music than other types of music. Some may as well have some genres of interest. Understanding the diversity of options you have can help you to make a better choice. If you care, it is a good practice to make inquiries about the producer who can give you a better service. Once you get one, either you contract the producer or you contract the studio with the agreement that your song will be handled by the said producer. A producer that has passion for your type of music, with higher level of production and audio engineering skills may (if not certainly) help you get a better output. Contracting the studio without defining who handles the job on the other hand gives the studio the right to choose a producer for you and the studio may not choose the right one for you. You may not like a situation where the studio assigns a novice producer to handle your work but this is possible if you allow the studio to make the choice for you.
Be ready to pay the price
Having been preparing for your studio session, it is the time to consider the studio budget to make for the success of your recording session but I must state it clearly here; to a great extent, the price you pay, determines what you get. A high end studio session price won't be the same with that of the mid-range studio. A studio may pride herself on the amount of gears and equipments available in there, as well as the studio's acoustic treatments. The studio's location and environment still add to her worth. Her connections (links to celebrities and big names of the industries both artists and producers) and fame cannot be left out. All these, and many more, add up to define the expected output as well as the session price of the studio.
Still talking about price, remember that studio is a workshop for your recording task while the producer and the audio engineer are the workers to do your work. Even with a high end studio, an inexperienced producer or novice audio engineer may make a mess of your song. But I bet you; the novice will ever place a smile on your face when it come to price.
Never make the mistake of asking a pro to reduce his price without inquiring from him whether the price is fixed or not. Here is why; when a pro tells you his (fixed) price, you price down, (being in the need of that your money,) he accepts the new price tag and attaches value to it (a value which is less than his ideal value). He'll render his service in accordance to the value attached to the new price tag which is ever less than his ideal service. He won't tell you this because he really needs that your money, and he won't like the work not to hold. While doing your work, I bet you, he'll certainly leave some stones unturned with a mindset that goes thus "why should I even disturb myself when he/she didn't pay what he/she's supposed to pay? Mehn! I won't overwork myself"
Moreover, if the price is not fixed, you may then bargain but
please don't over do. This is to avoid that same kind of problem.
please don't over do. This is to avoid that same kind of problem.
Having said that, if you don't have enough money, there are still some less experienced producers who may give you a nice service with excellent output at a lower price range. All you've got to do is make enquiries. Be informed.