How does an artist decide when their songs are ready for the studio? If you have taken the time to hone your material, perhaps as part of a band or perhaps as a solo artist, you may be wondering how you can tell when you are ready to lay them down.
Read on for the common paths artists take when they decide to make recordings, as well as some tips on how to make the most of your studio time.
Generally, newer artists wait until they have a substantial collection of material to record before booking studio space wanting to make the most of what historically has been a pricey investment. However, it can take a lot longer than expected to get everything done to the standard it needs to be at. It also doesn’t have to be that expensive anymore to rent studio time. More companies are offering professional studio settings to emerging artists. For example, Pirate has Queens recording studios with discounted day rates meaning that it doesn’t have to be such a substantial investment, and artists can book bigger slots for the same price they would have paid traditionally.
A studio is different to a live performance as you can hear every detail on a microscopic level. This is because it is a controlled environment, and it can actually be helpful as artists can hear where their music is working and where it needs tweaking. As the microphones pick up more, it can be an especially testing experience for bands who may only discover what their bandmates truly sound like in the studio.
The arrangement is vital; it can make or break a song’s potential. A worse arrangement will distract the listener and draw them into the issues like tonal slashes. Sometimes a cluttered arrangement needs stripping back. Don’t overthink it initially; that is what playback is for. Sometimes emerging artists aren’t skilled in presenting their music in a way that compliments it the best, and that’s okay. That is what producers are for. Enlist help when you need it.
Most Artists have some rudimentary recording equipment at home, even if it is just a smartphone. Run through some of the songs you plan to record and watch or listen to them back to try and identify areas that need work to get the song tight; this will also help you be better prepared for the studio. If you plan to work with a producer, send them your home recordings and ask their opinions.
A well-thought-out pre-production experience can ultimately save you time and money. Whether you work through it at home or consult a professional is all about making the best music. It gives you the best chance at making the record that you want to make.
Before stepping foot into a studio, you need to ask yourself a series of questions to make sure you will make the most out of your time. For many emerging artists, this money can come out of your own pocket, so it is important not to waste your time there.
● Firstly, it may seem obvious, but you need to ask yourself if you are ready to record your music on a personal level. Songwriting can be deeply personal, and if you have any doubts about your ability to lay down any of your tracks, you are not ready.
● Next, do you have a clear vision for the song or songs in mind? This is usually where pre-production comes in. All aspects of pre-production can help this vision but especially recording yourself at home and listening back. Live recordings from gigs can be helpful, but there is usually more going on, and it is hard to really listen to the music in detail.
● Do you have any references to help you communicate the vibe or feel you are going for? Sometimes, having a reference can help give a better idea to those you work with, like a producer or a sound engineer.
● Are you organised enough? Try to schedule your time, loosely of course, as there can be unforeseen delays. Organise the structure of your songs and jot them down to help you keep track of what needs recording and any changes that are made throughout the process.
● Lastly, how well do you know the material that you plan on recording? Can you play your part without any mistakes? Can you sing all the lyrics without a lyric sheet? Can you pick up the song from any section and play it through? Knowing the song inside and out can help save time, although mistakes will still likely happen, especially if you are nervous.
Making a demo or a record really is a collaborative effort. It requires teamwork. Whilst you are focused on making the music, you really need someone else who is focused on making the experience of the music the best it can be for listeners.