Are you heading to the studio to record a song, an EP or even an album some time soon?
Is this your first time recording your songs in a professional surrounding and working with a producer ?
Then this is your checklist to help you best prepare!
Let us dive right in! Before actually planning your recording session, you should really take the time to reflect on the questions below, as the answers you will find might be crucial for you and your producer to know! Let´s go!
1) What is the general sound of the song?
Are there tracks by other artists you could use as a reference? Do you have some specific ideas that you need to fill your producer in on? E.g. instruments you want to use, or certain sounds you like in other songs? Do you want your recording to sound like a live recording or a polished studio production? Do you prefer very clean sounds or more edgy, distorted sounds. Try to really “picture” what your song should sound like! People underestimate how important it is to pre-define the overall sound image.
2) What is your goal with the song or say the purpose of recording it?
Do you want to land a hit on the radio? Do you want your song placed in a movie? Do you want to send it in as a demo, to be re-recorded by an established artist? Do you want to use it as a reference to pitch to publishers? Depending on what the answer is, there are certain things you want to focus more on during recording and mixing! It is essential to define your purpose and the sound before recording! The reason for this might be as simple as fining the right microphones to pick up drums and guitars, so they can be mixed according to your taste! For example, depending on where you place a microphone to pick up a bass drum, you can get a very punchy or less powerful tone out of it!
When recording for sync (sync or synch, both spellings seem to be correct, refers to synchronizing video and audio, so we are talking music that is placed in movies, TV series and ads etc.), you may want to make sure not to include long instrumental sections, or fade outs at the end of the song. You also want the songlyrics to be rather “universal”, or say “relatable” and “not too specific”, so they fit for many options.
If you plan to pitch your song for a major artist to cut it, you will want to present a very commercial sound and make sure your song sounds “ready to market”. Your producer will have to focus on creating the right arrangements and energy throughout the song! If you are interested in how to produce popular music, check out the book “the Addiction Formula”, which I reviewed here.
Bottom line: Recording an indie album with an indie sound works completely different from a commercial pop album! So, know what you want!
3) Be overprepared!
Instead of going in, like you would playing a live show with regard to your songs, make sure to invest as much time as needed to try out different keys, different bpms and different chord voicings before deciding on a final version! Do record at least 5 different rough demos (e.g. piano or guitar with vocals), to find out what suits the song best! Play around until you are absolutely sure, that the song could work its magic!
Let me tell you, even just 2 bpm can make a huge difference and nothing worse than spending a huge production budget only to regret not having it recorded slightly faster or slower!
Every song has a sweet spot in terms of tempo, juts like a voice has a sweet spot in terms of the key you chose to sing in! Make sure to serve your song´s purpose!
4) Send out a briefing to the session musicians and producers
Putting down the most relevant info to send it to your recording team is a great move to make sure everyone has the same vision as you and everyone being on the same page! That is YOUR page!
The briefing should include the basic information, such as style of the song, bpm, key, instrumentation, arrangement cues, reference tracks in terms of sounds and song section ideas and any other inputs you might want to share! Make sure to send those around before the actual recording session, so everyone can come in well prepared!
5) On the day of the recording, be well rested
Bring water, bring your instruments, bring a tuner!! Yes, people underestimate how important tuning your instrument is! Remember, if you are recoding “full band”, all instruments need to fit together precisely and be harmonic.
Bring your lyric/chord sheets, and most of all, bring a positive attitude! This is something dear to you, right? Then don´t take anything for granted! Be respectful and appreciative of the musicians on the project, make sure to communicate evrything that crosses your mind with the producer and the team! Be collaborative! Do not bitch around! 😉
6) Take care of your rights
Before recording, make sure to check the studio contract with regards to your songwriting / publishing rights! Check if there are any clauses in there, that ask you to give away a percentage of your shares. If so, don´t sign blindly. You should at least talk it through with the other party, understand where they are coming from and ask yourself, whether their offer is fair! If your producer or another musician really co-wrote a song with you, bring a split sheet so you can both write down the percentages of shares each of you gets and have it signed!
Note: I will send out a spilt sheet Sample in our next newsletter! So if you haven´t signed up for our monthly news, do so at the bottom of this post!
7) last not least: Have fun!
This is exciting! This is your big day! Go and bring alive your song!
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