A professional recording studio can be intimidating for a newbie. The huge $1000 microphone, the flashing lights on the compressors and pre-amps, the moving faders and the wave lengths magically appearing on screen, all there to turn the songs you sang in the shower or spit in front of a sparse open mic crowd, into mass media platinum selling sensation.
You are there spending $40, $50, $60 up to $150 an hour, so you’ve got on eye on your lyric sheet and one eye on the clock that is ticking way to fast. Make sure you’re hitting the right pitch, make sure your hitting each word on the right rhythym. No one should go into this situation unprepared. So what do you do?
1st things 1st. Go buy a home recording studio setup! That’s right. I know it might sound odd coming from someone who makes his living selling studio time, but I am more interested in making quality projects then I am in taking money from people who are not fully prepared for what they are getting into, and most rookie recording artists are not ready for their first session. You can get a beginner program pretty inexpensively, I’d suggest garage band or logic express if you are using macs, and reason, cool edit or cue base if you are using windows. At the least you can buy an old school four track recorder at a pawn shop that will allow you to edit and layer vocals. You can buy a usb microphone, or just simply use the microphone embedded into your computer.
One of the first things you’ll learn is that your voice does not sound the same to everyone else as it does in your head. Learn how to manipulate your voice, play characters vocally, to fully express the emotion of the song. This is best figured out in the comfort of your living room. Your best vocal performances also happen when you have your songs completely memorized. One of my most frequent criticisms of artists in the recording booth is that “I can hear you thinking”. There is a comfortability with material that comes across when you know exactly how the song goes and can perform it on the microphone as a reflex reaction instead of like a 12 year old reciting an Easter poem at the school assembly. what better way to memorize your new song then the way you’ve memorized all of your favorite artists, listening over and over until you memorize. Make a recording and put the mp3 on your ipod or burn it to a cd. Ride around with it, take notes, play it for your artist friends who can understand it’s a rough draft and can critique it for the writing and not the recording quality.
Familiarize yourself with the vocal fx like reverb and delay (which are not the same thing!). nothing helps your session go smoother than being able to speak the same language as the engineer who is working your session. Find out if this is the type of songs that needs multiple layered vocals, ad libs.
The point now isn’t to get great audio quality, but instead to work on the kinks on your new hit song. In the end, you are a recording artist and not an engineer, you don’t want to split your attention amongst the two different disciplines. Bottom line, the engineer and the studio is worried about getting the recording right, it’s your job to get the song right! Take your time and experiment at home!
Make sure to check out our website for more information on our boutique studios, and feel free to check out notarapper.com for more blogs and updates about the recording and performing process.