So you’ve booked your recording session, now’s time to get ready so you can make your most of the time in the studio.
Here’s a list of things you can do to get the best results. It is by no means a full list and everyone is different so not every aspect will apply to every artist. Some of the tips I’m offering here may seem basic but if you get the basics right everything else will follow.
1. Pick Your Beats
There are times in a recording studio where inspiration will hit you and finding a random beat online and writing something off the top of your head will deliver something truly special however I’ve sat in the studio for hours and hours with rappers and singers while they sift through hundreds of beats online and never find one that gets them going enough to write.
Finding your beats in advance and writing something extraordinary will make the session run much more smoothly and you’ll be more likely to take home something ready to release!
Read my guide to buying beats online here.
2. Work Out The Tempo (And Key)
This is easily done (in the studio or before your session) so if you don’t get round to it it won’t be the end of the world, but as they say time is money and the more you can do to prepare and save time in the studio will help.
Download VirtualDJ and drag and drop your beats onto one of the turntables and the software will give you the BPM (or tempo – this is the ‘speed’ of the beat). Knowing the tempo is really helpful when it comes to using recording studio software (DAWs) such as Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton or FL Studio. It makes editing the beat or copying and pasting vocal sections without everything falling out of time much simpler and guarantees that any time-based effects (delays/echos/choruses/phasers) stay on beat.
The key of the song only really matters if you plan on using Auto-Tune but its useful to know anyway.
3. Rehearse (OUT LOUD)
It can be hard to practise music with your full force when you have to consider housemates or neighbours but ti really does make all the difference – I’ve worked with a number of people who spit their bars for the first time during the recording session – having written them down but only practised then on their phones before coming to the studio. The main problem with this is you haven’t worked out when you need to make time to breathe, wether the flow really works taught yourself the muscle-memory needed to get that double-time tongue-twister section down.
If you really feel like you can’t rehearse out loud at home, get to a rehearsal studio like Pirate (cheap, open 24/7 and self-service!) and nail your bars.
If you can afford to set up a home studio it will be invaluable to be able to record a bunch of rough versions of the track that you’re working on and finesse it so that when you go to a professional studio to record the full version of your tracks you know exactly what you need to do. Its better to experiment with ideas for free at home (or cheap somewhere like Pirate – you won’t get an engineer with these sessions) rather than paying full price for studio time to mess around with different ideas. Then, come in for your session and save yourself some money by dedicating 100% of your time to recording what you know will make it to the record.
5. Be Professional
Some people perform better in the studio if they’ve had a little something to smoke or drink. Most people don’t. But one thing is certain – NOBODY performs better when they’ve been out late the night before and are hungover. If you’ve booked a studio session try to treat your body well in the days before, don’t drink too much, eat healthily and stay hydrated. Rapping and singing rely on a well-functioning body, vocal cords are muscles, you need capable lungs to get everything out without losing breath. Do everything you can to make sure your session goes as smoothly as possible.
Oh, and try to be on time…