#1. UNDERSTAND THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
If it’s your first time in the studio, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of what goes into making a recording sound amazing.
When producing a single, album, or EP, there are 4 main stages you go through:
Pre-production – Pre-production is the stage where you make demos of your song and figure out the details. This is where musicians and producers work together to refine their ideas. If you have a friend with some recording equipment, you can do this with them, since none of the demo material will be on the final track.
Tracking – This is the stage where you get your instruments and vocals onto a recording for editing and mixing. It’s important that your recordings are as clean as possible.
Editing – This is the stage where your recording engineer will make sure the instruments are aligned in perfect time and will add any necessary auto-tune to your vocal tracks.
Mixing and Mastering – This is the stage that takes a great recording and makes it sound polished and professional. Sometimes, you can have your recording engineer mix and master the tracks, but it might be good to consider hiring for these tasks separately depending on your engineers' skill set.
#2. PRACTICE WITH A CLICK TRACK
If you’re not used to being in a pro studio environment then it’s time to start practicing to a click track. It’s easy to think you know a song perfectly, but then suddenly you have to play it with headphones and an annoying click track the whole thing can start to fall apart. During a pro studio session, more than likely you won’t be playing in the same room due to sound separation, so it’s important to know your parts without looking at each other.
If your songs have any tempo changes be sure to let the engineer know so that he can change the click tempo at the appropriate part of the song. Most songs are recorded to a click track, but there are no rules or laws in the recording studio. If you’re confident that you and your other musicians don’t need a click track then feel free to do it without.
#3. FINISH WRITING YOUR MATERIAL.
Chances are, you’ve just finished saving to record your debut single or album. Studio time can become expensive, so don’t plan to start the creating process on that time unless you are prepared to empty your pockets. There’s always room for improvement in performances and little parts can be changed on the fly, but don’t try and rewrite a symphony on a shoestring budget.
#4. RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT YOU ARE IN.
The trust between the client and the engineer/producer is something that should be put above everything else. Always be kind, courteous, and respectful to those around you. The session will always go easier and you’ll find if you are polite, a camaraderie will eventually form - you'll find the work becomes easier as you gain more trust in the person working on your music.
#5. DON'T LET YOUR SESSIONS GET TOO CROWDED
Sometimes it's great to have friends and loved ones around to bolster feelings, give support, and act as cheerleaders. And the recording studio is a mythic place – lots of civilians have never been to one, so they're naturally curious to see what goes on, which usually dovetails into people thinking it's an excuse to party. The reality is that making a record takes concentration and focus, and a bunch of people making a racket takes away from that experience. So be mindful of whom you allow to hang out – and not just for your sake, but for the other people involved in making the record, too. If someone's having a hard time nailing his or her part or is shy, then visitors might impede progress.
It’s perfectly understandable to be nervous in the studio - especially if you don't know what to expect. Performing for one person, usually, the engineer or producer can be very intimidating, especially if you have to sing. If music is a hidden passion of yours and you haven’t played out or let really anyone hear you play/sing before, you have to release the nerves and trust the engineer will be non-biased but encouraging. As an engineer who has recorded and worked with plenty of artists, I will always try and push for the best performance, but you have to be willing to relax and let it happen naturally.
#7. BE PATIENT AND HAVE FUN
As soon as you hit record, you plan to give a great performance. But it may not always sound so great when you play it back. Half of the battle is performing your heart out - the second half is bringing it together in the mix. The important thing to remember is that the songs will always only sound as good as you are. Like I said in #6, I will always push the artist to give me the best performance possible; the pitch can always be corrected in post-production but a solid performance is the backbone. As long as I know the artist is singing their heart out, any listener will easily be able to tell this and feel more connected to the song.
Hope to see you in the studio soon!