"Musician's Compass"

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10 Secrets Every Recording Artist "MUST KNOW" Before Heading Into the Studio

Secret #1- Prepare Well!!

The recording studio environment can be a very rewarding and memorable experience. I still remember my first recording experience as a lead guitarist in a country band 30 years ago!

First impressions stay with an artist for many years, and may actually last a life-time.

There are two types of studio experiences:

1/ Amazing, life changing moments shared with the producer/engineer and musician friends.

2/ Nightmares that will haunt you for life.

 What make the difference between the two?   Preparation!!

Being well prepared for your studio experience can make all the difference in the world. All it takes is common sense and a few guidelines. The problem lies in the fact that the studio environment can be a little nerve-racking to say the least. It doesn’t matter if an artist has been recording for decades, or if it’s a first time experience. EVERYONE is nervous at various levels when they are in the studio environment. 

What can you do to make the session run smooth?

1/ Get plenty of rest before the session begins. 

A clear head, and focused mind will go a long way to achieving a great musical or vocal take. For vocalists, the throat must be relaxed and well lubed. Drink gallons of water before and during the session. Save the wild partying for the CD release!

2/ Rehearse the material.

If the songs are going to be self-produced (not recommended, but we’ll get into that later) they must be arranged with pre-determined key signatures and tempos. The intro, verse, chorus, solo etc should be decided upon before entering the studio.

Musicians that will be on the session should be included in the rehearsals.

3/ Prepare the instruments.

It amazes me how many guitarists start playing with bad intonation. The reason? They’re playing on strings that are old and rusty! Make sure you’ve had a tech look at the neck, and set the intonation and action properly. If this is not done correctly, the guitar may be out of tune in certain fret positions which will eat up time like you wouldn’t believe. Bring your capos and picks.

Drummers; make sure you have great heads, and tune them!! Oh, and don’t forget duct tape and your sticks… (and a reserve pair.)

4/ Get familiar with the studio.

Find out who the studio owner is and get to know him. This will help you to communicate the idea of what you expect as the end result of the project. Don’t make your demands unrealistic, especially if this is the first time in the studio.

Check out the rooms and picture yourself in them. This will help alleviate some of the nervousness when it comes your time to set up and perform.

Check out the gear and ask the engineer to explain some of the stuff to you! Let him know what kind of sound you guys are looking for by bringing in an MP3 or CD of some bands you really dig!

5/ Make sure your budget has a buffer.

Imagine being so close to the end of a great studio project that you can taste it…only to find out that you’ve blown all your money and don’t have enough to properly mix and master it.

There are times when the sessions go longer than anticipated. Perhaps the band were not getting in the groove quick enough, or you may have changed lyrics, or arrangements of the songs. (see tip #2).

You need to carefully calculate the cost of the entire session, including tracking, overdubs, mixing, mastering and CD printing/duplication.

ALWAYS build a buffer in your budget. Allow a few hundred bucks to be in your bank account in case you need extra funds.

I’ve seen projects die just before the final mix- down because the band ran out of money and had to borrow. Don’t let this happen to you… it’s the quickest vibe killer in the industry.

Use this secret #1 before you get in the studio and I guarantee you’ll have a smooth, productive and killer session!

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A no-nonsense, real world, industry insiders’ perspective for recording artists who seriously want to maximize their creative time in the recording studio.

These articles are designed for both novice and experienced recording artists alike.

This is the 1st of 10 secrets that will be published free to subscribers

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